Phil Ivey

Phil Ivey was born on February 1st, 1976 in California, but when he was three months old his parents got divorced and his mother decided to go to New Jersey with Ivey's grandparents. When I was 8, her parents back together. Had a normal childhood, with a lot of basketball and football. His mother worked at an insurance company and his father in a labor union.

Discovered poker at age 8 with his grandfather to 5-card stud with betting pennies, his grandfather cheated for long so that Ivey lose and avoid the addiction to the game, but did not give good results. Ivey remembers his grandmother telling his grandfather to stop cheating and remember him telling that he wanted to teach Ivey a lesson.

When he turned 16 he began playing in home games $ 30 with a group of friends and that's when he really started liking the game.

When he was 17 used to use a fake identity card with the name of Jerome Graham to play limit poker with blinds $ 1-3 or 1-5 $ in the local casinos.

Ivey says that was a losing player till 21 years. He says he lost mainly because of his immaturity, not knowing how to manage his bankroll, not knowing what tables was suited for him to play, and especially by thinking to be better than what he actually was back then.

After a few difficult years improving his game in Atlantic City and after a brief stint working as a telemarketer began to live poker. He moved to Los Angeles to play the tournament circuit and that’s where it all started.

His first WSOP bracelet

At the final table of the Pot Limit Omaha Event at the WSOP 2000, Amarillo Slim was feeling pretty confident about his chances of winning his fifth bracelet, in his previous 4 WSOP final tables end first.

But this time was on his way Phil Ivey that by then was an almost unknown player from New Jersey.

It was a final table full of great players like Amarillo Slim himself, Dave Colclough, Phil Hellmuth and Devilfish.

Ivey played pretty tight during the game except for his continued reraises to Phil Hellmuth "Every time i bet you raise me" said Hellmuth to Ivey. "Why shouldn’t he? You keep folding…" said Slim to Helmuth while Ivey was silent. "Slim, that's why i have so many bracelets, they bet, bet, bet and suddenly boom! They don’t have even one out.” said Hellmuth defending himself, but at the same time opening the door for a touch of grace Slim "What bracelet are you going to get with this guy stealing all the time? ".

Slim, that had an amazing recovery to reach the final table that year because at the beginning had lost almost all his chips thinking that the tournament was Omaha Hi-Lo instead of just Hi, and probably deserved the bracelet when he got an advantage of 7 to 1 chip on Phil in the final HU but in the end Phil overcome that big difference with a great comeback. Given that Ivey had never previously played pot limit Omaha live, the comeback is considered as one of the most incredible history of the WSOP.

There is much to tell about the history of Ivey, his 5 WSOP bracelets, his showdown with Texas billionaire Andy Beal, etc ... we could almost write a book, better write a little about Ivey relationship with poker and some of his advice for improvement.

Had no one to teach him to play, learned mainly based on watching his favorite players winning and thinking about the game all the time. So he developed his own style.

What he think that is remarkable in his game is his ability to read the other players, be patient, when you think it is time to wait, his great experience. In short try to always make good decisions at the poker table, that's what you should do to become a good poker player. Although he admits that his game always has flaws that he continuously has to polish.

"I think to be the best player you have to be good at all games, not only as a single specialty like Pot Limit Omaha or Tournaments ... You got to be able to compete in every game, NL Hold'em, PLO, NL 2-7 , Limit Holdem, Stud, Omaha hi / low. To play them is not enough, to get to know them is not enough, you have to master and be a winner in all of them. In large tables playing mixed games where each round is a game changer or sometimes you can not even choose the game. "

What you like about poker is the extreme variety, the different strategies of the game, how certain situations can end up with a good bluff on your part and others in which not a good option ...

When he started to play, he talked a lot with John Juanda and Daniel Negreanu about Poker, and learned even more after playing against Barry Greenstein, Chip Reese and Doyle Brunson.

In a 2005 interview says he plays poker 50-90 hours a week although he says he does not see it as a job since he really loves to play and something that considers like an advantage over other pros that face the game as work.

"I don’t see poker as a job, i never did. I really enjoy playing poker. It is the greatest game on earth. I'm always trying to improve my game. For many of the people i play against see the poker game as their job and that's a plus for me."

On live poker he says that may stop a game if feels tired or losing, but if you are winning and the situation is suitable could continue until the others are withdrawn and sometimes has had a few sessions of up to 50 hours in a row. To hold for so many hours must be in good physical shape, which Ivey gets by running 5 km in the morning, in addition to playing golf. He says that in big tables is very important to be able to play for extended periods of time, 20-30 hours, until you find your chances against someone who is more tired than you. He learned all this the hard way, playing in games where he shouldn’t have been and playing for longer than it should.

He does not like to have a strategy when sitting at a table and everything changes rapidly, he doesn’t prepare to play a certain way against someone, especially when playing against good players who always change their style of play depending on how you play against them. As Mike Tyson said "Everybody has a strategy until you get the first." In poker you need to decide when the hand happens and then evaluate all the possibilities. While admitting that what for him is not working can work for others.

"There are certain technical qualities you need to play poker. You need to know that certain movements are losers and some are winners. Know that there are hands that are an automatic fold. "

"The fact that everyone can play poker is what makes it the best game. Anyone can win a poker tournament, you just have to want it. What's better than that? If you play basketball you do not have even a small chance to win a 1vs 1 to LeBron James. "

Phil at the tables constantly analyzes the moves of their opponents and look for tells, never seems relaxed, always 100% focused and combined with his aggressive style of play makes it seem really intimidating. Although he did not see it that way at all and says the last thing going through his head when sitting at a table is to intimidate other players. Perhaps the intensity of his game and his concentration is leading to this error.

"I do not care about my image in the table. I sit and play poker. No picture or faces daunting. Just play seriously and intensely focused - that's all "


1. Losing streaks

accept them as well as the winning ones, is part of poker, and if you feel frustrated is time to stop playing around. I tell many players to learn when it is best to leave is one of the most important things you need to know.

2. Adaptation

You can not make the same mistakes over and over again in a poker table. Although it is difficult to give advice to players who do not know that there are many ways of doing things and each has its own way of seeing the game.

3. Mental stamina

It is very important to stay focused and alert all the time when playing. We must pay attention to everything that is happening at the table.

4. Practice

The only way to be good at poker is to play, play, and play. You have to throw hours. You can not expect me to give you a lesson and you suddenly become a good player doesn’t work that way. It's like any other sport, you have to train.

- He likes to think that in the near future poker will have more time on TV, when large audiences understand the game a little more will be able to sit and watch poker for 4 hours with all hands without cuts.

- Doesn’t wear glasses to play, the only time he did was in the WSOP and lost a pot of $100,000 for making a bad reading, threw them away, never to use them again.

- Doyle Brunson says that Ivey shortly after the death of Chip Reese called him and said he owed money to Chip and asked to whom he should send it, with that attitude toward debts incurred earned even more respect from Brunson.

- The sport that likes to watch is basketball and you can see him with the flag of the Lakers sometimes.

- His favorite game is 7 Card Stud

To end, a question he answered in an interview:

- Back at 90, when you were playing 80 hours a week 2-5 NL did you expect a life like you have now?

- "No, of course not. How could i imagine that? When I started playing, I did it because i wanted to play. And suddenly I show up on TV and - bam! I'm Phil Ivey. To me it doesn’t make sense. I'm just a poker player. I played cards all my life, I don’t feel like a celebrity just because i go on TV now."


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