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Poker News | People in Poker | Poker Superstars

Phil Ivey

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Phillip Ivey, one of the brightest and fastest-rising young stars on the poker circuit, who grew up in New Jersey. He started his professional poker career in Atlantic City. He is only 27 years old now but has been playing poker professionally for 10 years already. He is a highly-focused and very consistent player who often places high in the money in a lot of the tournaments he plays in.

"He was very aggressive, always betting when I checked, raising when I bet," commented Joe Baron, an inventor who develops products for Harley-Davidson. "I know he was bluffing a lot, but I didn't have the cards to call him."

He won his first WSOP title at the age of 23, where he beat Phil Helmuth and Amarillo Slim in Pot-Limit Omaha. He followed up by winning four WSOP bracelets, and Diego Cordovez, David Pham and Robert Varkonyi, the reigning World Series champion, each have one. Then there was Ken "Skyhawk" Flaton and James Hoeppner, a CPA who won last year's Legends $5,000 championship event.

The table got there after Ivey knocked out Steve Zolotow. In a hold'em round, Zolotow had K-10 and hit a king on the river. But it was too late because Ivey, in the big blind with 9-5, had flopped two pair. On a stud round with $100 antes, $200 low-card and $500-$1,000 limits, Hoeppner went out in dramatic fashion. He raised all in on fifth street with kings up and 8s in the pocket. Ivey had two aces showing and one down. Hoeppner proceeded to make kings-full, but lost when Ivey filled. A hand later, Cordovez was all in showing a board of 7-6-6-2. Baron, with queens on board, turned up two jacks and Diego mucked his hand and left.

It was now hold'em, same limits. Flaton immediately went all in with K-Q against Varkonyi's A-K. On fourth street Ken stood up, prematurely, because a river queen saved him. Varkonyi was now down to $400 and waited until he had to post in the big blind. He had K-2 of hearts. Baron, in the small blind, had 7-6 and eliminated the WSOP champ when a board of J-3-6-2-7 gave him two pair. The remaining five players were now in the money. Phongthep Thiptinnakon, meanwhile, had stayed around after going all in three times, once when he hit a river flush in stud to overcome Baron’s Broadway straight. Still low-chipped, he went all in holding K-6 on a J-J-6 flop. But Pham, with J-6 had flopped a full house, and four were left. About 25 minutes into the hold'em round, Skyhawk, who started the table with the fewest chips, finally had his wings clipped. Holding A-3, he bet $400 all in on a board of 8-8-3-9. Ivey, in the big blind with 9-7 and a lot of chips, called and won with his over-pair of 9s.

The tournament changed to stud, $200 antes, $300 bring-in, $1,000-$2,000 limits. After taking a couple of frustrating beats, starting chip leader David Pham, making his eighth final table, finally went all in with three-way action showing 5-K-3-7. At the showdown, he made 7s and 5s to beat Ivey's queens, but he fell short against Baron's 88s and 3s.

After hauling in that big pot, Baron moved into a slight lead with roughly $45,000 to about $42,000 for Ivey. But after four hands, Ivey took back the lead with more than $50,000. They continued, in the words of tournament director Denny Williams, to "play ping-pong." After a round of hold'em, it was back to stud, $1,500-$3,000 limits, with Ivey holding better than a 2-1 lead. Finally, after folding on sixth street against Ivey's board of 10-6-K-J, Baron was left with just $1,300. Two hands later he was all in, couldn't help his two 10s and lost to Ivey's jacks. He's also won two Bellagio tournaments, one WPO, and two Commerce tournaments, not to mention his three appearances at WPT final tables. His tournament statistics are impressive, but Phil is equally exciting in live money games - he regularly beats the biggest games in the world.

Nowadays, Phil and his wife, Luciaetta, are living in a luxurious modern house in Las Vegas with a chrome staircase and huge white walls designed for showing art. It has a state-of-the-art sound and light system, and Phil is looking forward to getting a dog. When Phil isn't working on his game he is playing pick-up basketball, listening to music, or following his favorite sports team - the Los Angeles Lakers. He's also taken up golf. He's just learning, but would like to become very good.

If you are very interested, you can play with Phil at his own table at online Full Tilt Poker room.

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