Just a few short years ago, he was universally considered the best poker player in the world.
Recently, Phil Ivey has mostly been in the headlines for being in court with casinos suing him for edge-sorting.
In this week’s video we go back to the glory days when Ivey was at his peak and he pulled off one of the best bluffs we’ve ever seen.
Back in 2008, when the US had just elected a new president named Barack Obama and online poker in the USA was still legal, poker fans around the world eagerly awaited the weekly episodes of Poker after Dark and High Stakes Poker.
Millions of dollars were bandied about on those tables with the stoic faces of Patrik Antonius, Tom Dwan and Ivey, who had already achieved cult status, offering no hint as to the money at stake.
This clip is from the sixth and last season of High Stakes Poker and there is an inspiring mix of poker legends like Barry Greenstein, Ivey and Daniel Negreanu plus young guns like Andrew Robl and Lex Veldhuis.
Behold the Button
All the players involved in this hand are sitting behind heaps of cash over $200,000 but the end boss, Ivey, has the button.
When Greenstein (a rather tight player) raises, Ivey 3-bet-defends his button with a hand (5-2o) that most players would fold without hesitation.
Veldhuis had put in a straddle of $1,600 pre-flop and he knows Ivey might raise his button with a very wide range. Also, he holds K-J which means A-K, K-K, or J-J are less likely in Ivey’s hand.
Re-raising to more than $50,000 to collect a significant amount of dead money against weaker hands thus seems like a loose, but still valid move.
Bad Hand No Obstacle
Greenstein indeed folds pretty quickly and without much ado but Ivey is not the kind of player who folds his hand just because it’s bad.
He enquires about the Dutchman’s stack and when Veldhuis says “about 130, 140” Ivey just puts him all-in.
You don’t get to see a pre-flop all-in for $200,000 with no hand very often, and although Veldhuis was known to be a loose player this bluff is one of the best in the history of poker.