Phil Ivey is far away and the biggest name of the WSOP November Nine. The “Tiger Woods of Poker” stands on the verge of greatness. Despite being seventh in the chip counts, bookmakers refuse to take any chances on the seven time bracelet winner. And why should they?
Phil Ivey has long been touted as one of the world’s greatest poker players. Ivey is wise beyond his years, having begun plying his trade underage in Atlantic City, earning an apprenticeship as a card shark in the New Jersey gambling Mecca, before packing his things and heading West for the bigger challenge of Las Vegas.
Ivey has a preference for high stakes cash games, and other astronomical prop bets, and as such Ivey has not given the tournament world the majority of his attention in recent times.
Motivated by some large side bets, that lack of motivation has changed this year, as Ivey stormed to two WSOP bracelet victories - an amazing feat only overshadowed by the heroics of Jeff Lisandro.
Should Ivey salute as champion at the end of the final table, there will arguably be no person in the history of the game that will be able to overshadow him.
His opponents should be afraid, Ivey plans on scouting his opponents and has come up with a plan to get the best possible result he can attain when play resumes.
"I may watch a few of the hands on TV," said Ivey. "I'm a little short and I don't want to get in to exactly what I'm going to do, but I have some plans."
For ESPN, the mere presence of the 33-year-old pro is a marketing dream. Despite being camera shy at times, Phil Ivey is a recognisable face in a tournament that has struggled for recognition under the weight of a sea of amateurs in recent years.
It will be interesting to see how Ivey handles the extra media attention, given that he has previously expressed his belief that much of the television hype proves a distraction, and that he sees himself as purely a professional gambler.
Despite the bright lights and television cameras, the WSOP Main Event Final Table is sure to be just another opportunity for Ivey to make money and do what he does better than any other person in the world.
Ivey gives credence to the notion that tournament poker is a skill game, and not just a giant lottery. Whatever your opinion on that is, most agree that his appearance on the final table will be good for poker.
He will need to play fast to ensure he can get back into business, he enters the final table seventh in the chip counts with 9,765,000.
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