I’ve always kept my space with Phil Ivey. Most pros long for the spotlight, making my approach pretty damn easy. Throw around the letters ‘espn’ once or twice and they get the message; I (or anyone writing columns on espn web space) can give them exposure. In that regard, talking to me is generally
I’ve always kept my space with Phil Ivey.
Most pros long for the spotlight, making my approach pretty damn easy. Throw around the letters ‘espn’ once or twice and they get the message; I (or anyone writing columns on espn web space) can give them exposure. In that regard, talking to me is generally a good thing for their careers. Like Chip Reese before him, Phil Ivey is the exception to the rule.
Ivey has no use for celebrity. He makes more money than god and values his privacy. Hell, that desire for privacy maintains and even heightens his mystique. We’ve shared a few momentary conversations over the years and he knows I’d like nothing better than to sit him down and have him chew my ear off for a week or two, but if I’m going to be around for a while, I need to respect the wishes of the guys who want to be left alone. There are plenty waiting to talk if I need someone to take their place.
This all sets the scene for what happened last night. In another solidly positive evolution of the WSOP, the Players Advisory Council came up with the idea for a beautiful eight-game smorgasbord of a tournament that’s being called the$10,000 Mixed Event World Championship. You’ve got the usual HORSE events to go with three more; pot-limit Omaha, nl slot games that pay real money and triple draw 2-7. You want to find someone’s weak points? There’s a lot of exploiting to be done here.
Of course, this event put the pros on the scent. Walking through what remained late last night of the 191 player field felt a lot like hanging out in Bobby’s Room. Six-figure bets flew back and forth along with some good natured trash talk and a lot of frustrated looks from players playing their less-familiar games. It was while walking through that I came upon an ongoing exchange between Ivey and Andy Bloch.
It’s been well documented that Ivey’s been taking action right and left on his winning a bracelet. He’s put up $500,000 to Eli Elezra’s $900,000 and estimates are putting the total he has on the line at around $2,000,000. His bet with Eli was that he’d win a bracelet at this year’s World Series of Poker. His bet with Bloch, according to Ivey, is that he’ll win a bracelet this year. Andy has $180,000 to Ivey’s $100,000 that says he won’t.
See the difference?
It’s important to note that letter of the law –not spirit of the bet—plays more often than not far more often in prop bets like this one, which is important since there are bracelet events this year that won’t be happening in Vegas. Bloch’s feeling was that the spirit of the wager was that Ivey would win a bracelet in the 55 event starting in Vegas in May, June and July.
Standing, watching, I couldn’t help but let out a laugh when Andy told me what the dispute was about. The moment I did, Ivey whipped around faster than words can imply and caught me in his sights. For a second, I knew what the wounded caribou feels while looking in the lion’s eyes. “You think that’s funny?”* He asked me ‘What are you laughing at?”
* I’ve seen Goodfellas a few times and know that questions like this one are usually followed by the asker shooting someone in the chest. I’m walking on chinaware at this point.**
** I’ve been reading uber-blogger Joe Posnanski’s blog for a little while. You can blame these little asides on him.
Fortunately, I was having a good night. With the twin first-time wins filed by Erick Lindgren and David Singer, the room’s mood was light and it was infectious. Despite the obvious stoppage of my heart caused by the intimidating barrage hurled at me by the alpha of all alphas, I was feeling creative with a lot of good stuff to work with for my daily 3-6AM write-a-thon and my reflexes were feeling quicker than usual. “I’m not laughing because it’s wrong. I’m laughing because it’s clever.”