Why were Phil Ivey and Gus Hansen playing $1/$3 cash at Wynn Las Vegas?

Andrew Burnett
Posted on: December 2, 2023 05:13 PST

The WPT gave fans a treat on Friday with a star-studded Meet-Up Game, with Phil Ivey and Gus Hansen among the legends splashing around at the low-stakes cash tables.

At a time when players are usually only ever heading home from a hard night’s poker, an electric atmosphere was already building in the Wynn poker room, with the majority looking for a pre-Christmas autograph and, just perhaps, tickets to join the stars at the World Championship tables next week.

WPT ambassador Brad Owen was hyped at the turnout: “This is definitely exciting,” he said ahead of the 9am shuffle up and deal. “The day hasn’t even officially started yet and the room is absolutely packed. This type of energy really rejuvenates me and keeps me motivated to keep playing.”

Phil Ivey WPT Meet-UP Game The Meet-Up Game gave fans the chance of a lifetime – to play with the very best in the world

League of legends

Alongside Owen and fellow WPT ambassador and Meet-Up Game co-creator, Andrew Neeme, the day promised not only headliners Phil Ivey and Gus Hansen but a host of other big names.

Fans were looking forward to battling it out with WPT Global ambassadors Ethan ‘Rampage’ Yau and Jonathan ‘Apestyles’ Van Fleet, as well as the WPT crew, including Lynn Gilmartin, Tony Dunst, Matt Savage, and Vince Van Patten.

Tony Dunst at the WPT Meet-Up Game Tony Dunst holding court at the Wynn Las Vegas

Las Vegas-based poker fan Alex Gennett was one of them, telling WPT’s Jeff Walsh : “To sit at a table with Phil Ivey would be amazing,” though admitting, “I just think it will be fun no matter what.”

When Ivey and Hansen walked in together, the fun really began, with Santa getting in on the action as 28 tables full of $1/3 and $2/5 cash games filled the room.

Santa at the WPT Meet-Up Game Santa tried his luck against Phil Ivey at the low-stakes cash tables

There was more than just jokes, fun, and a story to tell their friends at stake. Get it all in against an ambassador, and you bagged a ticket for an end-of-day draw with four $1,100 WPT Prime Championship tickets to be won. 

On top of that, one lucky winner would receive a $10,400 ticket to the World Championship itself and a potential share of the guaranteed $40 million prize pool.

Conrad getting it poppin'

Only Friends Podcast host and PokerOrg Player Advisory Board member Conrad Simpson was another who was having a ball, and not just because he picked up quads and a straight flush in less than an hour.

Talking to us afterwards, he said, "Needless to say, the WPT Meet-Up Game was absurd. By 8am it was packed and the energy was amazing. Filled with smiles and laughs, every table I played at was poppin'. People were gambling and just having a good time.

"I’ve been in the MTT scene for going on three years now, and what I’ve seen from WPT has been extremely impressive. The atmosphere that’s created by the the WPT family is second to none.

"That's not to say I don’t enjoy other tournament stops, but there’s something about the WPT that’s special, It brings the vibes. The WPT seems to have found a way to connect with the players beyond the poker."

Conrad Simpson at the WPT Meet-Up game PokerOrg's Conrad Simpson has never played poker earlier in his life without staying up all night

Energy drinks (“They’re caffeinated, they’re ready to go!” was Tony Dunst’s take), playing the stand-up game, selfies and autographs, the Wynn poker room had it all. Bad beats included, on and off the tables.

To wit, the first name drawn for the $10k seat was a no-show, meaning Sunao Kitahara got the nod, although he had to run to pick up the potentially golden ticket.

Sunao Kitahara at the WPT Meet-Up game Sunao Kitahara was the lucky winner of the $10k WPT World Championship seat

“I was actually cashing out my chips over on the far side and I was ready to leave and I started hearing ‘Kitahara’,” he said on the WPT site . “And then I started to run.”

So, watch out for that name when the World Championshop action kicks off next week – that would be some story. PokerOrg will be in attendance at Wynn Las Vegas for the WPT Prime Championship, the WPT World Championship, the Big One for One Drop and all the rest of the action.