Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ship It: Ivey Wins 2nd Bracelet of 2009

Ivey defeated a strong field of 376 players to win the $2,500 Omaha high-low/seven-card stud high-low split Event 25, his seventh WSOP bracelet and his second this Series. He now is tied for sixth all-time with Billy Baxter and is just one behind Erik Seidel.

"It's nice to catch people," Ivey told Nolan Dalla. "This is poker history, as you like to say. And so, to have the chance to catch someone like Erik who is (fifth) in the bracelets, to get into his category would be nice."

Ivey joins Brock Parker as the only double-bracelet winners in 2009 -- Ivey also won Event 8 -- an accomplishment that hasn't happened in Las Vegas since 2006 when Bill Chen and Jeff Madsen accomplished the feat. Ivey was the last player to win three bracelets during one WSOP, a feat he managed in 2002. But why the change of heart? Ivey's daily presence at the WSOP this year has been a change from years' past and with his dominating performance this summer, who can say that a third bracelet is out of the question? Ivey is more confident than ever heading into Sunday's WSOP events.

"Well, before last year I pretty [much] skipped a couple of years at the World Series," said Ivey. "I didn't play in as many tournaments as I used to because I figured, it's doesn't really make much difference, you know. But then, as I started getting older I started to realize this does matter. Winning bracelets, it does matter. Just having the chance to put myself in poker history and I know I have the chance to win and be the all-time bracelet leader if I can continue at this pace. So, I'm looking forward to the opportunity.

"I think [last year] I really wasn't into it," he continued to the WSOP. "I don't know, I am just feeling good right now. I think last year I had a lot of distractions, especially in my personal life. And there were a lot of things going on outside of poker. I wasn't able to focus as well. Also, I think I am a better tournament player now than I was a year ago."

If winning a WSOP final table wasn't hard enough, Ivey was also playing in another event at the same time. During breaks from his attempt for his seventh bracelet, Ivey was playing in the $5,000 pot-limit Omaha high-low Event 27. After accumulating chips during earlier breaks, Ivey was being blinded out while he played at the final table and made his last stand just a few players before the money bubble. Ivey finished 22nd out of 198 players in that event … that he didn't even focus on! Ivey has done a lot in the poker space, but reaching the final table in that event would've been a new one.

With spectators surrounding all of Ivey's tables on Saturday, he wasn't he only superstar that fans were cheering for. 2001 WSOP main event champion Carlos Mortensen finished third in Event 25, Dutch Boyd finished fourth and Jon Turner finished fifth. Ming Lee was Ivey's final victim, but with Ivey holding the chip lead going into heads-up play, he was never given an opening to come back.

Ivey won $220,538 for the victory and when he was asked when he'd get started on No. 8, he simply said, "Tomorrow."

- Andrew Feldman


Chronic said...

When he was around 28 years old, Bobby Baldwin was considered to be the best no-limit hold'em player alive. He was very highly regarded by a lot of people, including all the old pros. Bobby Hoff once said that Baldwin was 15 percent better than anybody playing at that time. During the 1978 World Series of Poker, Baldwin and Crandall Addington were playing heads up for the title when Baldwin pulled off a successful bluff that changed the entire course of the tournament. Although it was not the final hand, it was the key hand because it shifted the momentum of play.

Addington had the lead at this point. With the blinds at $3,000-$6,000, he raised $10,000. Baldwin called the raise with 10-9 offsuit. "People don't realize that lots of times, hands are played before the players ever see a flop," my writing partner, T.J. Cloutier, commented. "When Baldwin called Addington's raise with a 10-9, he probably had it in his mind that even if he didn't get a great flop to his hand, he was going to win the pot anyway. In other words, long before the flop actually came up, Baldwin had decided that he was going to make a move on this pot. This hand probably was the turning point of the whole tournament."

The flop came Q-4-3 with two diamonds, and Baldwin led at it for a substantial amount. Addington called. Off came the Adiamonds on the turn, putting three diamonds on the board, and Baldwin moved in. That was his opportunity. "You've heard me say a million times that you must have nerves of iron to play no-limit hold'em," T.J. continued. "You have to be willing to sacrifice everything you have on a major bluff. And Baldwin was such a good player that he didn't think twice about it. When the board came with something he could represent, even though Addington had called him on the flop, he moved on it."

What if the turn card had been a brick, an innocuous card? In that case, Baldwin would have shut down. He would have taken his loss with the hand because he knew that Addington had a hand when he called him on the flop. Realize, too, that when Baldwin moved in on the turn, Addington could have had two diamonds in his hand, but that was the chance that Baldwin had to take. Since Addington had raised before the flop, there was a chance that he had a pair or a "big ace," and that he did not have any diamonds, in which case Baldwin's power play would work. If Addington had put Baldwin on a flush when the Au came, he wouldn't have called anyway if he had had a big ace - but he would've taken more time to muck his hand. He threw it away quickly, so the chances are that he did not have a big ace. Baldwin flashed his cards as he scooped in the pot, but we'll never know what Addington's cards were.

This successful bluff changed the tide of events. If Addington had called, the tournament would have been over because Baldwin probably had no outs if, for example, Addington had a queen. And Addington would have had what he coveted more in life than all the money he had earned from the oil business, which was very substantial. He would have won the World Series of Poker championship.

If our bluffs hold up, I hope to see you in the winner's circle one day soon.

-Tom McEvoy

Chronic said...

Right now, Phil Ivey is the best poker player in the world and its not even close. Not even close. 15% better is certainly an understatement.

umopapisdnpuaq said...

He's making it look easy. It's great that he almost made the money in 2 tourneys at once. At least they were both Omaha though.