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November Nine Q and A -- Phil Ivey

Ivey Talks About His Mindest Heading into the Main Event Final Table


Phil IveyThe poker world knew that Phil Ivey was going to take the 2009 World Series of Poker very seriously, thanks to a number of side-bets he made on that were dependent upon his success during the summer. He proved to everyone that he is the most dominant player in the game today by winning not one, but two gold bracelets to give him seven for his career. The gold bracelets came in event No. 8 ($2,500 no-limit deuce-to-seven lowball) and event No. 25 ($2,500 Omaha eight-or-better/seven-card stud eight-or-better). He cashed five times in all during the 2009 WSOP to bring his lifetime winnings to more than $10 million, and that was before the main event began.

Ivey has gone on to make the second-ever November Nine out of a field of 6,494 players, and he is guaranteed to walk away with at least $1,263,602 in prize money when play recommences Nov. 7. Ivey won’t be happy unless he wins the final table in November, but his presence adds a level of excitement in the coming months that makes this one of the most anticipated final tables of all time.

Card Player caught up with Ivey at a group press conference after the final table of the main event was set. He spoke about what it means to him to make the final table (and, more importantly, to win it), in addition to what the coming months hold for him.

Question: With all of the accomplishments you have, where does this stand? You have done some amazing things in your life in poker, where does this fit in?

Phil Ivey: So far, I’ve just made the final table, which is a pretty big accomplishment, and winning it would be the top of the line for me. But this is definitely up here.

Q: All this year, you have been running back and forth from here to Bobby’s Room. What has that been like? Is it hectic for you?

PI: No, I love to play poker. I chose a profession that I love to do, so when the night’s over, I just rush over to Bobby’s Room and play some more. It just keeps me in a groove; I love it.

Q: Having come so close to making the final nine before, how badly did you want this?

PI: You have no idea; I can taste it now, and I’m here. Today was a very tough day for me; I lost a lot of tough hands early, I grinded back, and now I’m right in the hunt.

Q: How do the next four months change for you?

PI: Nothing changes over the next four months. I’m going to watch a couple of the hands that they’re going to show ahead of time before the final table. So, I guess I’m actually going to start watching some poker on TV. I don’t want to get into exactly what I’m going to do, but I will be doing a couple of things.

Q: Who are you worried about at the final table?

PI: I’m not really worried about anyone. I have short chips, so I can’t really be too worried about anyone.

Q: Do you see the wait between now and November as an advantage for you or a drawback?

PI: I would say it’s a drawback, because I’m kind of in a groove with playing with all of these guys. When they come back in November, they might play a little differently. I know everything to do, but I will have to go back and replay hands in my mind come November. I think it’s a drawback … I would love to just finish this thing.

Q: What players who are still here have really impressed you?

PI: I played with the kid to my right James Akenhead the most, and he and the guy that got knocked out in 10th place Jordan Smith played very well. Everybody here knows what they’re doing, and they have good tournament strategy.

Q: You’re the most well-known player here, and I think you can acknowledge that. The media intensity focused on you is going to be like nothing we have seen yet. How do you view the next four months and the storm that is going to come your way?

PI: I’m just going to change my cell phone number and leave the country, so I’m not really worried about any of that … I’m serious, too.

Q: There is a certain aura about you when you sit down and play in this tournament. How do you use that to your advantage?

PI: Well, you just have to try to figure out what each player is thinking. How they play certain hands, what they’re thinking about in the middle of hands. What their feelings are toward me as a player, and what they think they can get away with and what they can’t. And then you just try to take advantage of situations when they come up.

Q: Was there any point when you were concerned about getting knocked out of the tournament completely?

PI: Well, I’m always concerned about it — its no-limit hold’em — when I was down to 4 million at one point. But I really don’t like to think about getting knocked out, I just like to think about the way I’m playing my hands, and as long as I played my hand correctly, that’s what matters to me.

Q: You handle pressure better than any other player out there. How huge of an advantage is that going to be at the November final table where some of your opponents aren’t going to be able to handle it?

PI: I don’t know if all of the guys aren’t going to be able to handle it. To me, it’s a poker game, and I just love to play, so I’m going to do my best, trust my reads, and just perform the best I can.