Phil Ivey: Best Professional Poker of His Time

Often called “The Tiger Woods of Poker,” Phil Ivey has an astonishing poker
career under his belt. To date, he has accumulated over $23 million from live
tournaments alone. Not only has he won a World Poker Tour title, but he has also
won 10 World Series of Poker gold bracelets. It’s no surprise that many people
consider him to be the best professional poker player of his time. In
recognition of his achievements over the years, Ivey recently received one of
the most distinguished honors available in poker; he was inducted into the Poker
Hall of Fame.

To learn everything there is to know about Phil Ivey from his poker
accomplishments to his personal life, please continue reading this thorough
biography.

Early Years

Phillip Dennis Ivey Jr. was born in Riverside, California, on February 1st,
1977. When he was just 3 months old, his family moved to Roselle, New Jersey.
This small, suburban town is where Ivey would spend the bulk of his childhood.

Ivey’s love of poker started early. He has his grandfather to thank for
introducing him to the game at the young age of 8. Ivey and his grandfather
would spend countless hours playing 5-card stud together, sometimes putting a
few pennies up for stake on the games. Ivey mastered the game quickly and soon
was developing his own winning strategies for it. His grandfather saw his
natural talent for the game and was the first to point out his potential to go
pro.

As Ivey grew older, his love of poker never subsided. He longed to play poker
at the casinos of Atlantic City, but he would not legally be able to until he
turned 21. So, what did he do? He created a fake ID, of course. He would be
known for years as Jerome Graham. He moved to Atlantic City and regularly put in
15+ hours a day fine-tuning his skills and trying out various strategies. He
quickly earned the nickname “No Home Jerome” because he rarely stepped foot
outside of the casinos.

Once Ivey was of legal playing age, Barry Greenstein and Daniel Negreanu,
amazing professional poker players in their own right, took Ivey under their
wings. They gave him tips on how to improve his gaming style. Before their
advice, Ivey had been playing too loose and would often get his money in bad
situations. He was grateful for the opportunity to work with these players, and
he took everything they said very seriously.

Accomplishments in Poker

If you didn’t know who Phil Ivey was before 2000, you did after he won his
first WSOP bracelet against the legendary Amarillo Slim. That win brought him in
nearly $200,000. More importantly than the money, though, it brought Ivey the
confidence he needed to pursue poker as a career.

Ivey’s newly-acquired fans were excited to see what he would do at the
following World Series of Poker in 2001. While he performed well, he wasn’t able
to win a WSOP that year. Many wondered if that would be the end of his career.
It wasn’t! Ivey blew people away in 2002, winning an unprecedented 3 WSOP gold
bracelets.

Since then, Ivey has added 6 more WSOP gold bracelets to his collection for a
grand total of 10 bracelets. Check out the table below for more details on each
of his wins.

World Series of Poker Bracelets

Year Tournament Prize
2000 $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha $195,000
2002 $2,500 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo $118,440
2002 $2,000 S.H.O.E. $107,540
2002 $1,500 7 Card Stud $132,000
2005 $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha $635,603
2009 $2,500 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball $96,367
2009 $2,500 Omaha Hi/Lo / 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo $220,538
2010 $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. $329,840
2013 $2,200 Mixed Event $51,840
2014 $1,500 Eight Game Mix $166,986

Phil Ivey’s poker accomplishments aren’t limited to the World Series of
Poker. In 2005, he walked away 1 million dollars richer after winning the Monte
Carlo Millions tournament. This was the first poker tournament ever held at the
gorgeous Casino de Monte-Carlo, and Ivey was more than happy to be a part of it.

Ivey believes the World Poker Tour is worth traveling for. He has been
participating in the WPT almost as long as he has been participating in the
WSOP. He has found great success there. One of his most noteworthy
accomplishments was taking first place in the no-limit hold’em championship in
2008. He took down Phil Hellmuth and other great pokers players, walking away
with over $1.5 million in the process and his first ever World Poker Tour title.

In 2012, he traveled down under to participate in the Aussie Millions. He
played in a number of events there but was most successful during the no-limit
hold’em $250,000 challenge. In that game, he found himself head-to-head against
Patrik Antonius, an excellent poker player he would eventually become good
friends with. That victory brought him in a cool $2 million. Two years later, he
returned to Australia to compete in the same event. He managed to land himself
another first-place finish, this time cashing out with over $3.5 million.

Poker Hall of Fame

The Poker Hall of Fame was established in 1979. Each year, the current
members and an 18-person blue ribbon panel meet to develop a list of 10
finalists. In 2017, word got out that Phil Ivey had made the cut. Freshly turned
40, this was the first year Ivey was eligible for membership.

Chances of getting inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in your first year of
being featured on the finalists’ list are slim to none. This is Ivey we are
talking about, though. He always prevails, even when the odds are stacked
against him. He was proud when it was announced that he, alongside David
Ulliott, would be the winners that year.

This is an excerpt from the statement he released to the media to show his
appreciation. “It’s an honor to be inducted alongside legends like Chip Reese
and Doyle Brunson. I love the game of poker and the game has done a lot for me.
I am one of the lucky people who has been able to make a living playing a game
which was always my passion. Thank you to my family, my friends, and all the
poker fans across the world that supported me on this journey.”

Phil Ivey on Television

Poker After Dark

On January 1st, 2007, the first episode of Poker After Dark aired on NBC.
Each week featured a different set of professional poker players who would
compete for the $120,000 winner-takes-all prize pool. Ivey participated in week
4 of that first season, competing against Sam Farha, Tony G, Mike Matusow, Phil
Hellmuth, and Andy Bloch. Despite the tough competition, Ivey managed to come in
1st place that year.

Ivey participated in 5 of the show’s 7 seasons. He loved the relaxed
atmosphere and friendly competition encouraged by the show’s producers. This
show helped Ivey get global recognition because it was not limited to viewers
from the United States; it also aired in Canada, Russia, and almost all of
Europe.

Chrysler Commercial

In 2015, Chrysler created a 60-second commercial that featured a myriad of
hard-working Americans who were responsible for their own success. This was to
promote their latest Chrysler 300. Ivey felt privileged to be among the select
few who were chosen to make an appearance on it.

Later that same year, Chrysler made another commercial to promote that same
vehicle, this time featuring Phil Ivey exclusively. The voice on the commercial
said, “There’s nothing wrong with being flashy, so long as you’ve done the work
to back it up.” It features Ivey walking through a casino and then driving away
in a gray Chrysler 300. This marks one of the first times a professional poker
player received mainstream recognition.

The Ivey Room

Aria Resort and Casino contacted Ivey and asked if he would be willing to
lend his name to their one-table high-limit room. Ivey was flattered and quickly
accepted their offer, saying this in an interview with the press, “I am honored
that Bill and the entire team at ARIA have decided to place my name on their
one-table high-limit room. ARIA has established itself as a leader in the gaming
industry and I look forward to playing at ARIA’s Poker Room.”

What does “The Ivey Room” look like? Once you enter through the two huge,
sound-proof glass doors, you will see one large table in the center of the room.
It is surrounded by several comfortable chairs. There is modern artwork on the
walls, along with several flat-screen televisions. Each player has access to a
butler who will serve them food from any restaurant on the property. This room
is comparable to “Bobby’s Room” at the Bellagio.

How Phil Gives Back

“My grandfather set the bar on personal achievements, charitable work, and
community service. Filling his shoes will be hard work, but I’m always up to a
challenge and I’m committed to continue his legacy.”

The Budding Ivey Foundation

Ivey teamed up with his mom to create “The Budding Ivey Foundation” to honor
Ivey’s grandfather, who had a passion for helping children. Thanks to Ivey’s
generous contributions, this organization is able to sponsor enrichment programs
to prevent underprivileged children from falling behind in school. They pay for
reading specialists to come in and work one-on-one with struggling students.
They also provide a variety of reading materials to the school so that they can
update their library. This organization’s goal is to give students the tools
they need to be successful, no matter what obstacles may stand in their way.

The Budding Ivey Foundation gives out 2 full-ride scholarships per year to
students that are in need of financial assistance for college. They look for
students who want to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering,
and Mathematics). Ivey likes to be involved in the selection process for these
scholarships. He wants to make sure the candidates he selects are going to work
hard to achieve their goals.

Other Charitable Donations

Ivey has personally donated thousands of dollars to Empowered 2 Excel. They
are a non-profit Christian academy in Las Vegas that hopes to promote academic
excellence and encourage character development through positive reinforcement.
Their goal is to provide a safe and creative learning environment for their
students. Ivey’s donation helped the school grant several full-ride scholarships
to students who otherwise would not be able to attend.

Ivey has also agreed to donate 1% of his winnings from any tournament event
he participates in, including the WSOP, to support Bad Beat on Cancer. This
charity provides free cancer screening centers to cities all over the world.
They also carry out intense cancer prevention research. Other players who agreed
to donate 1% of their winnings include Andy Bloch, Annie Duke, and John Juanda.

Rumors of Cheating Scandals

Full Tilt Poker

All poker players remember the dreaded day in poker history known as Black
Friday. That is the day the United States Department of Justice released the
Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, making it illegal to play poker or
any other form of gambling over the internet. Players quickly fled to their
online accounts and attempted to withdraw their money. Those with accounts at
Full Tilt Poker ran into issues, though.

It became obvious quickly that Full Tilt Poker had spent their players’ funds
and had no intention of paying them back. Phil Ivey, who at the time was fully
sponsored by Full Tilt Poker, was extremely embarrassed. Rumors started
spreading that he and the other members of Full Tilt’s Pro Poker team knew about
the mishandled funds but chose to keep quiet about it. Ivey denied these claims,
and a thorough investigation found him innocent.

Although Ivey wasn’t personally responsible for the loss of players’ funds,
he was mad he didn’t see it coming. He chose to sit out the 2011 World Series of
Poker to show his remorse for the players who were now suffering financially. He
also filed a lawsuit against Tiltware, the software and marketing company for
Full Tilt Poker, in hopes of getting some of the missing funds back into the
hands of the players.

Crockfords Club

In 2012, Ivey and his friend Cheung Yin Sun tried to cash out from the
Crockfords Club in Mayfair, having won $7.7 million by playing a version of
baccarat known as Punto Banco. Crockfords refused to pay the duo their winnings,
though, claiming they had cheated because they used a technique called edge
sorting. Edge sorting involves exploiting the defects in a card to help
distinguish the face value of that card. Naturally, Ivey brought in his lawyer
and tried to fight their claims. The case went all the way to the UK Supreme
Court, and after 5 years, the courts finally made a decision. Ivey was found
guilty.

Ivey spoke out about the judge’s decision, saying, “It is very frustrating
that the UK judges have no experience or understanding of casinos or the ongoing
battle between casinos and professional gamblers attempting to level the playing
field.”

Personal Life

Relationships

When Ivey was still in high school, he started dating a girl named Luciaetta.
Right from the start, they were inseparable. Anytime Ivey wasn’t playing poker,
he was spending time with her. Young and in love, Ivey and Luciaetta decided to
tie the knot. A few years into their marriage, they both decided they wanted
different things in life; Ivey is living proof that marrying your high school
sweetheart rarely works outs.

The divorce was rough. Luciaetta and her lawyer worked hard to make sure she
could get as much money out of the lawsuit as possible. She ended up receiving
$180,000 a month in alimony and approximately $2.2 million worth of jewelry and
designer purses. Since the divorce, Ivey has been hesitant to pursue another
relationship. He has had a few flings over the years, but nothing serious.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Ivey is a huge sports fan. His favorite teams are the Buffalo Bills, the
Houston Rockets, and the Los Angeles Lakers. Sometimes he will actually travel
and make an appearance at those sporting events, but more often than not, he
will watch them from the comfort of his own home.

When he’s not watching sports, he is playing them. He is an excellent golf
player. He actually took third place in the first-ever World Series of Golf
tournament. He is often found playing golf with other poker pros like Howard
Lederer and Daniel Negreanu.

What Is Ivey Doing Now?

Back in 2014, Ivey launched “Ivey League,” which is a poker training site
designed to help people who want to hone their poker skills. He created 3
programs to choose from: undergraduate, bachelors, and masters. The
undergraduate plan involves 10 video training sessions and access to the site’s
poker forum; this plan is absolutely free. The bachelors plan costs $9 a month,
and the masters plan costs $75 a month. These plans contain more advanced
training sessions and expert advice from a wide range of professional poker
players. Ivey still oversees this site, making sure it always offers the most
recent poker advice available.

Ivey’s latest adventure involves him starting to work for Virtue Poker, a
cryptocurrency-based online poker company. What will he be doing for this new
start-up? His official title is strategic advisor. In this role, he will be
asked to assist with product development and brand awareness. He is hoping to be
able to use his widespread contacts in the poker world to develop relationships
for the company. Ivey is excited to work alongside Brian Rast and Dan Coleman,
two other big-name poker players who joined this company shortly before he did.
This job is a good transition for Ivey, as his days of spending endless hours at
the poker table are starting to come to an end.