Ivey Dominant, But Aloof Toward Poker Community
Close To Fifth WSOP Final Table In Two Weeks
Phil Ivey is widely considered the game’s best player, but he’s also oblivious to the poker world.
On Tuesday evening, the eight-time WSOP bracelet winner was closing in on his fifth final table since June 8. He’s cashed for more than $500,000 and currently sits in seventh in the 2012 Player of the Year race.
Despite being one of the most recognizable faces in the gambling world, he doesn’t know the faces, or even names, of his peers. On Tuesday, Ivey met Vanessa Selbst for the first time. It was also the first time he had heard of her, according to Ivey’s long-time friend Daniel Negreanu, who introduced the two.
One may wonder if Ivey’s lack of enthusiasm for the poker community is a giant level — meaning an elaborate prank designed to accomplish some purpose — but it isn’t, Negreanu said.
“He doesn’t have many friends in poker,” Negreanu added. “He tries to stay away from all the gossip. He just wants to win.” Ivey’s career goal is 30 bracelets.
In the Omaha eight-or-better event a week ago, Ivey was seated next to high-stakes cash game pro Brian Hastings. Hastings said that Ivey thought his name was “Brian Madsen” — a blending of his first name and the last name of 2006 WSOP Player of the Year Jeff Madsen.
Hastings said he wasn’t offended by the confusion. Hastings thought it was “hilarious.” Both men had logged many hours together on Full Tilt Poker, the defunct site Ivey once worked for, as well as competed in person on the TV show Poker After Dark.
“I don’t think he cares at all about his public image,” Hastings said. He also called it “questionable” that Ivey remembered that they had played together even after he corrected him on the “Brian Madsen” mistake.
Rumor is that Ivey, at one time, didn’t know that Joe Cada won the 2009 main event. Ivey finished seventh that year in the no-limit hold’em championship.
Ivey’s self-immersion makes sense in that he doesn’t need the help of other players. Thomas Marchese Tweeted on June 8: “Asked phil Ivey if he wanted to swap for one drop and he didn’t know what swapping was. Guess when your the best you don’t swap to often [sic].” Marchese was referring to the $1 million buy-in event starting July 1.
The 36-year-old has so far declined to give interviews this summer. When there is a break in play, he quickly leaves for his trailer parked outside the Rio. He hasn’t publicly discussed Full Tilt Poker, although it seems the high-stakes community isn’t yet bothered by his silence. He’s never been accused of a crime in the alleged Full Tilt Poker fraud.
At around 9 p.m. local time in Las Vegas, Nevada, Ivey was third in chips with 22 left in Event No. 35 ($2,500 mixed hold’em).
Update: Ivey made the final table early Wednesday morning.
Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus
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