Phil Ivey Is Coming Back To Prove Who’s Best

Martin Derbyshire October 31, 2017 2445 Reads
Phil Ivey Coming Back

Buried at the bottom of a story on this site clearly overshadowed by news that Pennsylvania lawmakers finally got around to passing online poker and gambling legislation was word that the one-time consensus best poker player in the world will be playing more tournaments in 2018. Phil Ivey‘s $23,856,033 in career live tournament earnings still has him sixth on tournament poker’s all-time money list. However, it has been a minute or two since anyone has referred to him as the consensus best poker player in the world.

Shying away from the tournament spotlight

For the most part, Ivey has been out of the tournament poker spotlight the past few years. He did manage to post a fifth-place finish in the $200,000 Triton Super High Roller event in the Philippines in January 2016 for $656,500. Plus, he won the 2015 Aussie Millions A$250,000 LK Boutique Challenge for a little over $1.7 million. However, you need to go back to 2014 to find a time he was regularly posting tournament results.

With almost $3.8 million in live tournament earnings, 2014 was Ivey’s best year on the circuit. All indications were he was still crushing nosebleed cash games online and live. In fact, it was hard to find anyone who didn’t have Ivey at the top of the list of the best players in the world at that time.

Things have gone downhill ever since.

The edge sorting debacle

Ivey actually beat London’s Crockfords casino out of £7.7 million playing Baccarat in 2012. He did even better at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, New Jersey that same year, taking them for $9.6 million. It wasn’t until 2014 that the legal battle over the money heated up.

Ivey admitted he and playing companion Cheung Yin Sun won the money using a technique called edge sorting. Essentially, edge sorting involves using cards with flaws in the pattern on their backs that allow those familiar with them to determine their value.

The casinos called it cheating and the legal battle ensued.

Ivey falls to number six

Ivey was once at the top of poker’s all-time money list. After spending the next few years after 2014 tied up in court and avoiding the media spotlight that comes with playing tournaments by hiding out in high-stakes cash games in Asia, he’s inching ever closer to falling out of the top ten.

Daniel Negreanu now sits at the top of the list with close to $10 million more in earnings than Ivey. The legendary Erik Seidel and $1 million buy-in One Drop event winners Daniel Colman and Antonio Esfandiari have passed him as well. Plus, German wunderkind Fedor Holz, who didn’t even book a six-figure live score until 2015, passed Ivey on the list last week.

The news wasn’t particularly good for Ivey this week. It essentially spelled out he’s run out of UK courts to appeal to in his efforts to get Crockfords to pay out the £7.7 million he won. Ultimately, the UK courts have declared edge sorting is cheating, although Ivey still believes it’s just advantage play.

He’s presumably still fighting a court order to pay back Borgata, awaiting a decision in the casino’s other battle with the actual manufacturer of the flawed cards. However, that is apparently not enough to keep him away from the live tournament scene next year, providing a silver lining to this dark cloud.

Ivey is coming back

Ivey was in Beijing, China promoting the Zhi You poker App earlier this month and told Asian poker content portal SoMuchPoker he expects to play more live events in 2018. This would presumably mean he’ll show up at the 2018 World Series of Poker, after skipping the WSOP altogether this year. In 2016 he only playing briefly in the Main Event.

It also means anyone who has passed Ivey on the all-time money list or replaced him in discussions regarding the consensus best poker player in the world should be put on notice. Ivey is coming back. Not only should this provide a thrill for poker fans around the globe, but it should also serve to remind anyone who may have forgotten, exactly who the best really is.