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WSOP November Nine Profile -- Phil Ivey
Despite Entering in Seventh Place, Many Expect Him to Win
Will he do it?
Since the poker boom, there has never been so much anticipation regarding one player and one final table. But as Phil Ivey looks to complete an incredible World Series, the poker community will eagerly watch to see if he will add the finishing touches to a magical WSOP run.
Although he enters the World Series of Poker main-event final table just seventh in chips, Ivey is the overwhelming favorite in the fans’ minds. A WSOP poll showed that 78 percent of fans expected him to come back and win. Some bookmakers only give two players better odds — chip leader Darvin Moon and Eric Buchman, who is second in chips — despite the fact that six people come into the final table with bigger stacks than him.
Of course, all of that may just be fans’ wishful thinking, but the fact remains that the pressure will be on Ivey. This is the first time he has ever made the WSOP main-event final table, and he knows how huge that is.
“So far, I’ve just made the final table, which is a pretty big accomplishment. Winning it would be the top of the line for me,” said Ivey. “I can taste it now … I’m right in the hunt.”
Although the pressure will be intense, it seems doubtful it will affect one of the most feared men in poker. He has played in some of the biggest cash games on the planet, and has publicly said that “there is no amount of money that makes me sweat.”
Coming into the 2009 WSOP, Ivey hadn’t won a bracelet since 2005. Now, that may not seem like that long of a cold stretch for the common man, but for Ivey it was an eternity. Since he won his first bracelet in 2000, never before had three World Series passed without Ivey taking home one of the events. Many people blamed Ivey’s lack of success on the emphasis he placed on the much more lucrative cash games.
But entering 2009, with a fervent buzz about the number of prop bets that Ivey had made on his ability to win a bracelet, all eyes were on the former New Jersey native to see if he could make good on his bets. The answer came fairly quickly, as Ivey won a $2,500 deuce-to-seven event in early June.
But before the “congratulations” even seemed to subside, Ivey did it again — winning an Omaha eight-or-better/seven card stud eight-or-better mixed event for his second bracelet of the summer.
Watch Card Player TV’s interview with Ivey after his second win of the summer:
With Ville Wahlbeck and Jeffrey Lisandro having such incredible summers, Ivey was just third on that list for his two wins in relatively small fields. And then came the main event. Ivey proceeded to storm through a 6,494-player field to reach poker’s promised land.
“This is his year,” said Mel Humphrey, who has been traveling with his wife Pat to Las Vegas every year from the East Coast to root on their friend. “He just keeps on getting better.”
The Humphreys first met Ivey when he was just 17 years old, as he made his way through Atlantic City cardrooms with a fake ID and a deep desire to improve. The couple has been featured on ESPN for their loyalty to their friend, with huge buttons and T-shirts adorned with Ivey’s face.
“We look forward to this every year, and we make it to Las Vegas for it every year,” said Pat Humphrey. “Phil is the same guy we met years ago. He’s not flashy, he’s not showy. He really is quite shy.”
Despite his alleged “shyness,” ESPN couldn’t be happier at Ivey’s appearance in this year’s November Nine.
“This is the most excited I’ve ever been for a season of the World Series of Poker,” said Jamie Horowitz, the coordinating producer for ESPN told media on a conference call last week. “It’s long been discussed in poker — could a pro ever win the main event [again]? Having Phil Ivey as part of our November Nine has just added a new level of interest in poker, not just on the blogs but even within ESPN … There is just an elevated sense of excitement for this season.”
ESPN color commentator Norman Chad agreed, saying, “There’s some mystical, magical quality to Phil Ivey that elevates him above the rest … He just has an amazing table presence that’s unequaled in the game.”
After receiving $1.26 million for making the final table (equivalent to the ninth-place payout), Ivey has moved into third on the all-time lifetime winnings list with $11.47 million, behind only Daniel Negreanu and Jamie Gold. Negreanu overtook Gold for the all-time lead with his second-place finish at the WSOPE main event. If Ivey were to go the distance and win the main event, he’d be No. 1 on that list by more than $6 million.
Even with the last level of blinds at 120,000-240,000, Ivey still holds more than 40 big blinds. Although this is the first time Ivey has ever reached the main-event final table, he’s done very will in the tournament in the past few years. Since 2002, he’s finished in the top 30 a record four times — including a 10th-place finish in 2003.
Far from guaranteeing victory with his limited chips, Ivey has just said that he will “perform the best he can.”
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in July, but updated in preparation for next week’s final table.
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