Intensely silent as he launches his fiercely challenging glare on every opponent who dares to contest his bid for the pot - a gaze that can drive all but the most disciplined of players to question every decision that led to this excruciating moment - 8-time WSOP bracelet winner and constant contender for the top position on the career tournament winnings list, Phil Ivey, may well be the most confidently intimidating and nerve-wracking professional poker player
one could ever face-off against at the felt.
A veritable obstruction in the path of any player aspiring to win a World Series of Poker bracelet, Phil Ivey has gained the respect and awe of his peers, while elucidating the idolization of a modern-day poker deity from his fans. For Phil Ivey, poker is not just a hobby, or a lucrative career path; poker is a way of life to which he applies the dedication and self-discipline to constantly strive for improvement.
Like many of the top players in his field, Phil Ivey learned to play poker
as a child. Penny-ante 5 Card Stud against his grandfather at the age of 8 evolved into backroom poker games
by the time he was 16. With a fake ID, Phil began venturing into the casinos of Atlantic City when he was 18; known to the staff and patrons as Jerome Graham, and bestowed the nickname "No Home Jerome" for the inordinate amount of time he spent there.
Losing more often than not, when Phil wasn't playing poker, he was evaluating his defeats; contemplating modifications to his game that might improve his results. Ivey's diligence eventually began to pay off. Not long after revealing his true identity to the floor staff upon turning 21, Phil was ready to take on Las Vegas.
One month after his first big tournament victory at the Jack Binion World Poker Open in 2000, Phil Ivey claimed his first World Series of Poker bracelet and $195K in the $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha event; the first player ever to beat Amarillo Slim heads up at a WSOP final table. Later that year, Phil won his third major poker tournament at the US Poker Championship $500+$40 No Limit Hold'em event.
Consistently cashing throughout 2001 in a variety of poker tournaments
- including the 1st Annual World Poker Challenge, the LA Poker Classic, Jack Binion's World Poker Open, the World Series of Poker, Legends of Poker, and the US Poker Championship - Phil Ivey continued to work on his game.
In 2002, Phil Ivey cranked it up to eleven, and kicked off the knob. Following an impressive run of money finishes in multiple events at the Jack Binion World Poker Open and the LA Poker Classic - which included a first place win in the LA Poker Classic $1,600 No Limit Hold'em event - Phil Ivey hit the World Series of Poker with the indomitable force of an unforeseen nuclear blast.
Landing three WSOP bracelets, Phil Ivey tied Puggy Pearson's original 1971 record for the most WSOP victories in a single year - a spectacular feat that had only been accomplished by two other players before (Ted Forrest and Phil Hellmuth
, both in 1993). As of the close of the 2010 WSOP, only one other player, Jeff Lisandro, has equaled the record.
Ivey went on to win three more first place prizes before the year was out. One from the California State Poker Championship in Limit 7 Card Stud, and two at the Legends of Poker WPT Season 1 in the mixed game events Limit Hold'em / 7 Card Stud, and Limit SHOE.
Staying on top of the newly established World Poker Tour, Ivey snagged two more victories in Season 1 of the WPT preliminary events in 2003 (Limit 7 Card Stud and Limit Omaha Hi/Lo), before finishing third in the WPT Main Event. Ivey also made four final tables in the WSOP that year, but fell just short of two bracelets (Limit Razz and Limit 7 Card Stud).
Grabbing another WSOP victory in 2005 at the $5,000 Pot Limit Omaha event, Phil Ivey picked up over $635K, and his fifth gold bracelet. He then followed the accomplishment up with a win at the Monte Carlo Millions for an even $1M, and another first place at the Full Tilt Poker Invitational for $600K.
Phil Ivey acquired his first WPT title in the 2008 LA Poker Classic WPT No Limit Hold'em Championship, as well as a prize of more than $1.5M. Having made it to the final table of the WPT championship seven times prior - several times eliminated from the game while holding the same hand, AQ - the win finally broke Phil's WPT Main Event losing streak.
Stating once that he aimed to win 30 WSOP bracelets in his lifetime, Phil Ivey got two bracelets closer to his goal in 2009. Taking down the $2,500 No-Limit Deuce to Seven Draw Lowball for $96,367, and the $2,500 Omaha Hi/Lo
/ 7 Card Stud Hi/Lo mixed game event for $220,538, Phil Ivey's career bracelet count rose to seven.
One more bracelet filled Phil Ivey's trophy case the following year. Winning the WSOP $3,000 HORSE event, Phil was $330K richer, and 22 bracelets away from fulfilling his ambition.
While Phil Ivey's tournament record - with 118 cashes, 22 first place wins, 8 WSOP bracelets and 1 WPT title at the close of 2010 - speaks for itself, high stakes
cash games are Phil Ivey's true love. In fact, the Big Game at the Bellagio, with the highest limits in town, has been one of Phil Ivey's favorite haunts. Ivey can also be found playing poker online
at his sponsor site, Full Tilt Poker, when he can't find a big enough live game to pique his interest.