Las Vegas, NV
Ivey circa 2009
Photo courtesy of BJ Nemeth
An ESPN announcer (I think it was Stuart Scott) speaking about Michael Jordan's prowess once said "This is MJ's world and we're all just paying rent."
I learned something the last 48 hours and it's that we're all just paying rent in Phil Ivey's world. And if he's a broke dick like Full Tilt Poker is claiming, then we'd better pay up because it's now the first of the month, otherwise he'll send Mike Matusow over to your house to steal your entire stash and clog up your toilet.
It's impossible to imagine a busto Phil Ivey. When he's motivated (especially by million dollar bracelet prop bets), he'll put himself in a position to win a tournament. When he's playing cash games from Macau to the Aria, he's always the best player at the table. Ivey is a vacuum cleaner when it comes to sucking up bankrolls of his opponents.
At the same time, Ivey has plenty of life leaks (sportsbetting and craps), not to mention a grandiose lifestyle to upkeep. Only Ivey and the gang at Full Tilt knows how much Ivey supposedly owes them. It's entirely possible he's stuck eight figures in make-up and/or losses playing nosebleed stakes Chinese Poker and using Full Tilt online transfers to settle up their debts. At the same time, Steve Z and Howard Lederer were known bookies for a couple of decades. Who knows if Ivey was betting beaucoup bucks on sports and losing to his fellow Full Tilters?
Then again, as one pro told me, "If you add up all the make-up for Full Tilt red pros, you might have almost enough money to pay back all their players."
I didn't think the WSOP could have a more surreal opening day than yesterday, but things took a turn from Strangetown to Weirdville in the early evening on Day 2 when Full Tilt went on the offensive and released a mordacious press release which essentially outed Ivey as an uncooperative broke dick.
We're now in the middle of a war between two embattled enemies and their both trying to manipulate the poker community into choosing sides. Both are blaming each other for the financial fiasco. It's only going to get uglier. I can't decide which side is bluffing and which side is revealing partial truths.
Day 2 featured three tournaments including Day 1 of Event #3 $1,500 Omaha 8 and Day 2 of Event #1 Casino Employees and Event #2 $25,000 NL Heads-Up. Here's a quick recap...
Event #1 Casino Employees Day 2 and Final Table: This tournament always reminded me of "caddy day" at Bushwood Country Club in Caddyshack when all of the caddies invaded the pool. It's a chance for workers in the casino industry to get a shot at a bracelet. One former poker dealer I spoke to said that the Employees event was better when it was held at the end of the WSOP so more of the dealers can play once they are done with their summer assignments and flush with cash. I only recognized one player at the final table -- Dan Quach. He was the runner-up at the WPT L.A. Poker Classic in 2006. I covered that event during the height of the boom and Alan Goehring beat Quach for the title. Quach won $1.1 million for his performance, but had not done anything of significance in five years. I would love to think that a Pai Gow dealer is going to win a bracelet. Due to the lame 10 level rule, play was suspended with four players remaining.
Event #3 $25K NL HU Day 2: The field began with 128 players seeking a huge chunk of the $3 million prize pool. Tom "durrrr" Dwan was one of the Full Tilt pros who showed up on Day 1 with a patch. But somewhere in between the John Juanda's spat with James Bord and Phil Ivey's drama bomb, Dwan ripped the patch off his shirt and went patchless. At least he wore a shirt. Gus Hansen looked like he woke up late in some random chick's bed, lost his t-shirt, threw on a soccer warm-up hoodie, and rushed to the Rio. In case you were wondering, Gus wore a patch. He's not afraid of pesky, angry players seeking out red pros and demanding their money.
Dwan and Gus were among the Sweet 16 and both made the money. They squared off in Round 4. The winner would advance to the Elite 8, while the loser would put his hand through a wall. Dwan couldn't outgun the Great Dane. Perhaps it was his shirtless persona that confused and mesmerized Dwan, as Gus took him down.
To pay homage to their Danish hero, little kids all over Denmark started a shirt-free movement.
Event #2 $1,500 Omaha 8: A couple of friends played like Shirley Rosario, Jesse Martin, and Jose Hernandez, but unfortunately, none of them made it to Day 2. The Pavilion was filled with a record setting field of 925 grouchy old guys. Phil Hellmuth made his first token appearance at this year's WSOP. He posed for photos with fans in the hallway while avoiding eye contact the entire time.
That's it for now.