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WSOP Watch: Phil Ivey Touches Down in Las Vegas

Phil Ivey

Phil Ivey is back.

The famed poker pro, who some consider the best card player in the world, made his debut at the 2019 World Series of Poker over the weekend.

Ivey dropped into the Rio All-Suites Hotel to play Day 2 of the $10,000 buy-in Omaha Hi-Lo tournament on Friday. Amusingly, he was seated at the same table as another iconic poker pro, Phil Hellmuth.

Unfortunately for poker fans, both Ivey and Hellmuth were eliminated on Day 2, with Ivey outlasting the Poker Brat by a few hours but missing out on the money.

Ivey has 10 WSOP gold bracelets and is one of the few players who could legitimately give Hellmuth — who is currently sitting on 15 bracelets — a run for his money.

Ivey Remains Enigmatic Figure in Poker

Despite a poker career that includes tens of millions in tournament earnings, Ivey’s presence at the WSOP has been infrequent over the last few years.

There are a couple of reasons why Ivey has shied away from the tables in Vegas. The first is that he has been involved in a painful and drawn-out court case against Borgata Casino in Atlantic City. The issue stems back to a series of gambling sessions that took place in the early 2010s where Ivey was able to win nearly $10 million playing a form of baccarat.

The issue is that Ivey, and a partner, had an edge in the game. They had learned that Borgata was using flawed playing cards that telegraphed their value when read properly. The Ivey legal team has argued that he was using a legitimate tactic and essentially beating the house at its game. The courts saw it differently and Ivey was ordered to return the cash.

Borgata attempted to seize Ivey’s assets in both New Jersey and Nevada but has thus far been unsuccessful. Borgata has used his participation at the WSOP as proof he has the means to pay them back.

The other reason that Ivey has stayed away from the WSOP is that he’s playing large cash games in Asia. This one is a rumor but he definitely spends time in Asia along with some of the other big-name cash pros like Tom Dwan.

Ivey a Bracelet Favorite?

When Phil Ivey is on his game, there are very few players at the WSOP who can compete with his ability to close out tournaments.

In 2009 he won two bracelets and made the WSOP Main Event final table where he eventually finished seventh for a $1.4-million cash.

From 2009 to 2014, he won five WSOP tournaments to bring his overall haul of bracelets to 10, which ties him with old-school legends Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson.

Since 2014, however, Ivey has only cashed four times at the WSOP with his deepest finish being a ninth place in the 2018 Poker Players Championship.

There’s no telling whether he plays a high volume of WSOP tournaments this year but it’s a good sign that he’s appeared this early. There were a couple of WSOPs where Ivey only attended for the last couple of weeks.

If Ivey ends up playing a large number of tournaments at the 2019 WSOP, it could have ramifications on a variety of poker prop bets available online.

One of the key bets offered by Bovada before the WSOP began was whether one of Phil Ivey, Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson or Johnny Chan was going to win a bracelet this summer. Although Brunson has retired from tournament poker and Chan is likely to play a smaller number of tournaments, you’ve got to like the chances of Hellmuth and Ivey.

Finally it seems there’s a good chance Ivey will play the Main Event so you still have the option of taking him in a Last Longer bet against Phil Hellmuth. The bet is available on Bovada.lv.

Eli Elezra Wins 4th WSOP Gold Bracelet

Longtime poker pro Eli Elezra scooped up his first bracelet of the summer and the fourth of his career in the $1,500 buy-in Seven-Card Stud final table last night.

Elezra outlasted 285 players and a final table that included noted pros Anthony Zinno, Rep Porter and David Singer to earn a first-place payout of $93,766.

The non-Hold’em events, such as Seven-Card Stud, tend to draw considerably fewer players, which is why the first-place prize was relatively modest by WSOP standards.

It’s a significant milestone for Elezra, who has been cashing in poker tournaments since 1996. This is his second bracelet in the last five years. The other one, which he snagged in 2015, was also in the $1,500 buy-in Stud event at the WSOP.

Renowned for his mix game abilities, Elezra also made a name for himself by appearing on GSN’s famed High Stakes Poker along with pros like Daniel Negreanu and Phil Ivey back in the mid-2000s.

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