Phil Ivey’s appearance on Hustler Casino Live didn’t live up to the hype in the eyes of many poker fans. Ivey seemed bored and disinterested on both Friday and Saturday night’s live streams, and many speculated that he probably had big action on sporting events given how often he left the table to check on games and perhaps to place other bets. The most interesting thing about Ivey’s time on Hustler Casino Live may have been his response to Tom Dwan when asked about being vaccinated.
Phil Ivey “doesn’t want to talk about it”
At just over two hours into Saturday’s Hustler Casino Live broadcast (at the 2:02:30 timestamp on the video replay), Ivey and Dwan can be heard discussing a big bet mixed games cash game that Ivey has been playing in. Ivey suggests that Dwan try it out, and advises him that he can just play tight in the game variants he is less comfortable in.
After asking about some details about the games played, Dwan asked if you need to wear a mask. “They make you wear a mask in front of the camera every once in a while,” Ivey responded. “And then they just don’t pay attention, you can just pull it down.”
“Did you get a vaccine?” Dwan asked at the 2:04:30 timestamp of the video.
Dwan: “Did you get a vaccine?”
Ivey: “Yeah, I don’t want to talk about that.”
Dwan: “Really? Oh, s**t.”
The two shared a moment of silence and an awkward laugh after the exchange.
Ivey had previously stated that he planned on playing “quite a few” WSOP events
Adding fuel to the speculation about Ivey’s vaccination status is his absence from the WSOP. While Ivey has rarely played the full series as bracelet hunters like Phil Hellmuth and Daniel Negreanu do, he does usually dabble in some events. His absence at the Rio has been especially noticeable in the $25,000 and $50,000 buy-in events, as Ivey has recently been fairly active in the high roller live tournament scene.
In a podcast interview with Joey Ingram back in June, Ivey announced that he was planning on playing in a handful of events at the WSOP in 2021. At the 51:33 timestamp of Ingram’s YouTube video of the podcast, the following conversation takes place:
Ingram: “It sounds like your looking to be involved in some [televised poker events].”
Ivey: “Yeah. I am. I’m looking to play. I’m looking to play on TV. I’m looking to travel and play poker. I’m looking to, you know, play the World Series of Poker.
Ingram: “Oh, so you are going to be there full schedule, what’s going on?”
Ivey: “I don’t know about full schedule, but I plan on playing quite a few events.”
Ingram: “Oh yeah? It’ll be nice to see you there again.”
Ivey: “I’ll be there.”
Just speculation at this point
Neither of these points proves that Ivey is not vaccinated. Not wanting to talk about it on a live stream could just be a case of Ivey not wanting to go on record talking about a polarizing issue during a live-streamed event. After all, we have seen players like Daniel Negreanu taking a pro-vaccine stance. We’re also seen those like Alex Foxen and Kristen Bicknell taking an anti-vaccine stance. We’ve seen those on both sides receive major social media backlash from those with opposing views.
And as for Ivey’s absence at the WSOP thus far, schedules change. It’s possible that Ivey has just found more profitable things to play in and is focusing his energy on those instead.
When asked about playing in WSOP events at his NFL launch party on Thursday night, Ivey was non-committal. “I’m not sure about that,” Ivey said about being at the WSOP in the coming weeks. “I’m going to make a decision whether or not to play the Main Event, I’m just not sure.”
Phil Ivey has played in the WSOP Main Event every year in recent memory with the exception of the 2017 Main Event when he was tied up in a legal battle with the Crockfords Casino in London. He finished in 10th place in the event in 2003 and in 7th place in 2009.
Speculation on this topic would end if Ivey does decide to play in the 2021 WSOP Main Event and will continue on if he does not. Poker fans around the world would love to see Ivey in action, but opposing players in the tournament probably wouldn’t hate seeing one of the world’s best players take a pass on it.
Featured Image Credit: Flickr – WPT