Phil Ivey: Good for Poker?

Published On: 21 July 2009 / Modified: 29 June 2018
Created By: Daniel Skolovy
Phil Ivey

Each year, the Main Event final table rolls around and we look up and down the roster desperately searching for someone who is "good for poker." Someone who can take our game to new heights.

Ever since Moneymaker shipped it in 2003 we've been chasing that poker boom dragon. Deep down we know the 2003 boom will never be replicated in size, but we'll settle for even just a small bang.

In these tough, post-UIGEA times, we need someone who can stand on the world stage, draw attention to the game and bring new players along for the ride.

Moneymaker was the ignition of the poker boom back in '03 and, for the longest time, the poker player mantra was that some amateur would come along and parlay $40 and a sick run of cards into a Main Event bracelet, thereby re-creating the perfect storm of Moneymaker's 2003 victory and igniting a second poker boom.

But we've since had our share of amateurs and semi-pro champions in Raymer, Hachem, Gold, Yang and Eastgate, and each one failed to cause even a ripple in our game.

If an amateur riding a sick wave of cards was the perfect storm for a poker boom, then Yang would have been the perfect candidate. He was that God-fearing amateur, just-lucky-to-be-here guy.

He won, practically disappeared and nothing changed.

So what about something new? Maybe the lucky amateur isn't the match to light the fuse anymore. Though it initially drew people to the game with the whole "anyone can win" angle, even that has become tired.

Enter Phil Ivey, Undisputed King

Enter Phil Ivey, the undisputed best player alive.

If the lucky amateur angle is wearing thin, Ivey is the polar opposite. He's the consummate pro, he's beaten the game his entire life and now that he's making a run at the biggest tournament in the world.

Maybe, god willing, the U.S. government will see that poker is a skill game. Though amateurs will win tournaments here and there, Phil Ivey is living, undeniable proof that poker is a game of skill.

Chris Moneymaker
Moneymaker, the man we all owe thanks to.

The possibility for a smaller boom is very real. ESPN had amazing ratings for the 2003 Main Event and, with Ivey at the final table, 2009 guarantees ESPN the best ratings they've had in years.

They'll have four months to hype up their coverage.

With no big names the November Nine is just a waste of time, but with the biggest name in poker it's genius and guarantees one of the most watched final tables in history.

And while a whole boat load of "anyone can do it" players took to the game in 2003, in 2009 we have the possibility for a whole new breed of "I want to be the best in the world" players flooding our games.

A Phil Ivey final table alone is good for poker. But should he go on and win the question is how would he do as an ambassador for the game? You know, the let's-go-out-and-get-that-UIGEA-repealed guy.

Is he the best guy to get that job done?

Phil Ivey Doesn't Want the Spotlight

It depends on whether or not he wants to step up. Ivey is the guy that'll win a bracelet and slip out the back door before the press even gets the picture and Q+A session.

Phil Ivey
Ivey, not a fan of the spotlight.

He's a guy who really doesn't like to be in the spotlight, despite being the biggest name in poker.

Everyone wants to know everything about Phil Ivey, but Ivey just wants to be in the shadows doing what he always does: playing poker and winning millions of dollars.

That's not to say that if he won the Main Event he wouldn't recognize what kind of impact he could potentially have on poker legislation.

Winning the Main Event could catapult Ivey from poker celebrity to mainstream star.

Like Amarillo Slim in the past, he could find himself on the talk show circuit, bringing poker to a whole new audience and hopefully bringing exposure to the sham that is the UIGEA.

Ivey Has Already Helped Poker


It's all entirely possible, and as a stake holder in Full Tilt Poker, Ivey should understand how potentially profitable this can be for him, his company, and poker players worldwide.

The possibility is there. Ivey just has to step up, take the ball and run with it.

He's been somewhat reluctant in the past, but for the greater good of the game, we all hope he would do it given the opportunity.

However, that's getting a little ahead of ourselves. Right now he sits six of nine and there is a ton of ground to make up.

One thing already guaranteed is that the 2009 November Nine will be the most watched WSOP Main Event in recent history. With higher ratings comes more exposure, so, win or lose, Ivey has already helped the poker world.

So is Phil Ivey good for poker? Yes he is. We'll just have to wait and see if he can be great for poker.

-- Dan


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Sean Lind 2009-07-24 17:57:00

The UIGEA is actually keeping far more people away from online poker than you think.

The problem is, the majority of the population in the USA are slightly ignorant to the facts of online poker. All they have heard is what the major news outlets have told them. Without spending too much effort reading the details, all they saw was "Online poker is illegal". Even though this is obviouslly untrue, it's a common belief in the USA.

It actually is illegal in Washington state, where punishment for playing any online poker is the same as having kiddie porn. This is obviously something that needs to be fixed.

FTP and PokerStars are not worried about any competition, opening the doors by overturning the UIGEA will bring a flood of new players to the sites.

Fagtard 2009-07-24 01:32:00

Why in the world would anyone affiliated with FTP truly want to overturn the UIGEA? Anyone in the USA that wants to play poker plays on their site or pokerstars and often times both. Would the repeal of the UIGEA not just open the gates for other sites to encroach on FTP's player base? The current situation still allows any player that wants to easily get money on--this is stopping a very small percent of people from playing. Lets face it--they have it good enough right now....Correct me if I'm wrong because I'm clearly not as connected and informed on this issue as most of you--but that is how it would appear to me.

Sean G 2009-07-23 22:37:00

I hope that he does indeed see the benefits of appealing to the masses through the press. Ivey has every right to his privacy, but he also has a lot of positive personal benefits from getting out and spreading the reality of poker. I hope his stake in FTP is substantial enough that this investment appeals to him. There's no doubt he understands the financial benefits of overturning UIGEA, and the important role he can play in that.

julio eglasies 2009-07-22 23:31:00

The fact that the mainstream media and those who are still highly uninterested in poker are (and have been for 6+ years) subjected to images of Ivey and other Fulltilt pros on the highly recognizable black and white commercials will now pay huge dividends.

Ivey's face is known now. Anyone who has ever been in a bar or had their TV on ESPN or any other channel that runs Full tilt ads will know him by face and now by name. Clearly the poker world is aware but it's the potential of branching out to the broader public that will make the next 3.5 months very important for the industry that is poker.

Ivey will have a lot of non-poker related issues weighing on his shoulders from now until then. Should be interesting.

No matter what happens, things will be different from here on.


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