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Phil Ivey May Make Up to $6 Million in WSOP Side Bets

Andy Bloch and Tom Dwan Reportedly Have the Most to Lose


Phil IveyPhil Ivey simply can’t find enough action. Even though the main-event final table is scheduled to begin today at 12:23 p.m. PST, Ivey is reportedly still looking to make bets with any doubters out there.

“He said to us he would win an additional $5 or $6 million, and he’s looking to bet more on himself,” Eli Elezra, a friend of Ivey’s and one of his main competitors at the Big Game at Bellagio, told Card Player on Thursday afternoon.

Ivey, who at 33 became the youngest person to win seven World Series of Poker bracelets this past summer, is at the first WSOP main event of his career and will be seeking his first no-limit hold’em bracelet ever. He enters play seventh in chips, with 9.765 million — or 5% of the chips in play.

The fact that Ivey has made some side bets on himself taking down the tournament is not a surprise to those who know him. With a reputation that precedes him, he regularly places mind-boggling bets both at the craps tables and on sports. But for this once-in-a-lifetime event (though with Ivey, you never know), the avid gambler has been pulling out all of the stops.

“He’d win a lot of money [in side bets if he won the main event],” said Barry Greenstein, one of Ivey’s good friends on the poker circuit, mentioning Andy Bloch and Tom Dwan as the ones who have the most to lose come Tuesday, when a winner will be crowned. “Ivey is such a sick person — sick in a good way of course.”

Andy BlochThe Andy Bloch Bet

Bloch’s bet has been well documented. With still a monstrous field of roughly 2,500 players remaining in this year’s main event, Bloch offered Ivey 99:1 odds that he wouldn’t win the tournament.

“He took $20,000 from his pocket and he threw it to Andy,” Elezra said. That spur-of-the-moment decision could cost Bloch nearly $2 million.

“Everybody is rooting for Phil Ivey. I would be too if I didn’t have a bet against him,” Bloch told Card Player TV at the Festa al Lago main event a couple weeks ago. “I could be on the hook for $2 million if he wins unless I can figure out some kind of settlement beforehand, but with Phil Ivey, that’s going to be tough…[I] just talked to him briefly, but… our numbers are pretty far apart. And he’s a gambler. He’s like, ‘I’d like to increase the bet.’”

As of today, there is no indication that the two competitors have settled the bet, so Bloch would have to fork over $2 million if he lost. But ironically, in the high-stakes gambling world where everyone is always looking to get a piece of everyone else’s action, most of that money would not go to Ivey.

Elezra tells of how the Great Dane, Gus Hansen, purchased the rights to the lion’s share of Ivey’s bet.

“Gus heard about this bet when there were like a thousand people left or whatever, and he told Phil Ivey, let me buy this bet,” Elezra relayed. Ivey let Hansen get in on the action, buying him out, but making him agree to give him $900,000 of the $2 million if he did indeed pull off the monumental task. Hansen agreed, and Ivey landed himself a “$900,000 freeroll,” according to Elezra.

Tom DwanThe Tom Dwan Bet

Before the buzz had even begun to subside from the poker community becoming aware of the Bloch bet, Tom “durrrr” Dwan reportedly admitted that he would have to give Ivey $1 million as well if he were to become world champion.

“I think he has a bet with durrrr; they had a win bet,” said Greenstein. “It was kind of on a lark, and it may have been made even before the thing started. It was one of those bets that you would never anticipate coming into action.”

The bet was likely a must-win bet for either of the two poker superstars. With 6,494 entrants in the 2009 main event, it just didn’t seem probable that either of them would navigate through the massive field to collect the $8.5 million prize.

Now, Dwan — who is currently up nearly $800,000 in the on-again-off-again durrrr challenge with Patrik Antonius — might have to ship all of those profits and then some to Ivey.

Ivey vs. the World

The bet with Bloch and the reported wager with Dwan may be the only seven-figure bets that have been commonly speculated on, but Ivey likely has a number of smaller — but still far from insignificant — bets with other people in the poker community.

Daniel Negreanu“He’s got some random bets, like the standing bet with Daniel (Negreanu) if they play in the same event and one wins, the winner gets $200,000,” said Greenstein. Mike Matusow also reportedly said on Full Tilt chat that he would owe Ivey $100,000 if he came back to win the main event, and Phil Gordon said on Full Tilt he would be “quaking in his boots” because of an unspecified bet that he made with Ivey.

But, in an effort to offset their potential losses to Ivey and perhaps make a big score for themselves, both Negreanu and Matusow have been collecting action from other players — and this time, they’re betting on the other side of the coin, on Ivey’s ability to take down the event.

Elezra said Negreanu was taking a ton of action on a must-win bet where he would have Ivey and the other bettor would have chip leader Darvin Moon. Although Moon has a large chip lead (58.93 million, or about 30% of the chips in play) and nearly six times the amount that Ivey has, he is considered one of the most inexperienced players remaining and has himself downplayed his success, saying he’s just the beneficiary of an insane run of cards.

Many people believe that when it gets to short-handed play, Moon’s amateur mistakes will show and he will have a difficult time closing the deal. And, of course, many people believe if Ivey can double up early and collect a few more chips, he will be nearly impossible to stop.

Doyle BrunsonTen-time bracelet winner Doyle Brunson was the first person to publicly acknowledge that he was taking that bet, announcing in a recent blog that he will be rooting on Moon at the final table.

“I thought I would be pulling for Phil Ivey and Jeff Shulman at the WSOP final table. But when Daniel wanted to bet Ivey over Moon, I had to take Moon who has five times the chips of Ivey,” said Brunson. “It is a must-win bet so probably we won’t have action. Sorry Phil, I won’t be rooting for you now. Business is business.”

However, just like Negreanu, Brunson eventually thought better of betting against his friend. Brunson posted on his Twitter account this morning: “I reversed my bets against Ivey. I gave Gus Hansen my 50K bet against him. I am now officially pulling for Ivey and Shulman for 135K.” (Spelling errors in original Twitter post corrected; special thanks to CP reader “Prieure” for making us aware of this info.)

But Brunson was far from the only one interested in the bet.

Negreanu allowed Elezra to take 10% of his action and the two quickly began collecting bets from a host of interested parties.

“We’ve gotten up to $1 million already. We’ve got (John) Juanda, Howard Lederer, Nick Schulman…we’ve got six or seven people,” said Elezra.

Cash-games pro Brian Rast told Card Player that he made a $25,000 wager with Negreanu and a $10,000 bet with Matusow on a must-win bet. Rast has Moon; they have Ivey.

But as soon as Ivey heard about all of the bets Negreanu was collecting, he immediately announced that he wanted in on the deal.

“He took half of the action, so Phil would get half a million dollars, Daniel would get $400,000, and I would get $100,000,” said Elezra.

Eli Elezra“It’s like betting against God.”

Elezra says he’s learned his lesson, and is happy that he decided not to bet against Ivey during the main event.

After losing $400,000 to Ivey after he won his first bracelet of the summer, the Full Tilt pro tried to convince Elezra to let it ride. He almost agreed, but the two gamblers couldn’t decide whether Ivey should get 4.3 to 1 or 4.7 to 1 odds on the likelihood that he would win a second bracelet at the WSOP, so Elezra decided to just settle his bet and move on. He’s certainly glad he did now, as Ivey won another bracelet and then reached the main-event final table.

“It’s like betting against God,” said Elezra. “What are the odds that he would this?”

Greenstein believes there may be others who didn’t get away as well as Elezra did. “Obviously this qualifies as a win in a bracelet bet,” he said.

Although so many poker players consistently say Ivey is the greatest in the game right now, they still can’t help themselves when he puts up such attractive odds. Ivey may be squaring off against a group of mostly unknown faces today, but in reality, he has a chance to win quite a lot of money off of some very familiar foes—including Bloch, Dwan, Lederer, Juanda, Schulman, Matusow, and Negreanu.

And still, he is itching for more action.

“He’s ready to put up to $2 million on himself at 6:1,” said Elezra. “I heard Juanda is considering it.”

It is possible when it’s all said and done that Ivey would make more from side bets and bonuses than he would from actually winning the main event. So while the rest of the table fights it out for the $8.5 million first place prize, Ivey will try to unofficially eclipse Jamie Gold’s 2006 record for the most money won in a single poker tournament. Gold won $12 million for his 2006 main-event victory.

Follow all of the action here on, with live updates from the tournament team at Rio and Twitter updates from November Niner Jeff Shulman.



almost 12 years ago

If you look at Brunson's twitter he has changed his bet and is now rooting for Ivey and Schulman.


almost 12 years ago

why is cardplayer telling us how much he is gambling for? Its not really our business.
Why is he betting so much? Is this an addiction?
Am I the only poker player in the world that only gambles on poker?


almost 12 years ago

When someone made up the word "sick" to actually mean good or awesome, Phil Ivey is exactly what they had in mind.


almost 12 years ago

Phil Ivey is a Poker God.


almost 12 years ago

That was a very interesting article!


almost 12 years ago

Only sick gamblers can make it to the super high stakes games. Thats how they gat there, by taking shots every chance they gat and gambling it up big time. Some make a rush at the right time and end up on top and some end up dead broke. Many times it has little to do with their poker skill.