Phil Ivey was born in 1976 and grew up in New Jersey. He started out working in telemarketing and sales, but had a passion for poker and chose to dedicate himself to the game. His grandfather had taught him to play Stud poker but he was too young to get into the casinos in Atlantic City so he obtained a fake ID in the name of Jerome Graham. He played so often that the local players gave him the nickname “No Home Jerome” and on the day he was old enough to enter the casino legally, he apologized to the casino manager and said “My name is Phil, Phil Ivey”, the manager just laughed and said Phil Ivey will be a big name one day, never a truer word said in jest.
For the next few years he continued to grind it out until the summer of 2000 when he won a bracelet in the $2,500 PL Omaha Event at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). After he won his first bracelet he was unstoppable. He would spend long hours playing in tough cash games and earning a name for himself as an extremely aggressive player. It was in 2002 that he won three more bracelets at the WSOP in the 7 Card Stud Hi-Lo, 7 Card Stud, and S.H.O.E events. Then is 2005 in the $5,000 PL Omaha tournament, he won a massive $635,603 and the coveted bracelet, giving him a total of 5 now at just 29.
Phil has also been a regular at the World Poker Tour (WPT) events over the years. He made the final table in seven different events but never placed better then 2nd. In a few of those WPT tournaments he was knocked out holding the same hand (A-Q) which seems to bring a lot of bad luck to poker players. Doyle Brunson stated in his book Super System that he never plays the hand, it gets you in too much trouble too often, but he has been caught playing it once or twice.
In 2006, Texan Billionaire Andy Beal issued a challenge to the best poker players in the world that he wanted to play high stakes $25,000/$50,000 fixed limit Texas Hold’em. Andy believed that playing for huge stakes and trying to bully with money would throw players off their game. As no one individual was prepared to take on Andy themselves, “The Corporation”, which comprised a group of players including Doyle and son Todd Brunson, Johnny Chan, Jennifer Harman, Ted Forrest, and Phil Ivey was formed and took it in turns to take him on. They got off to a bad start losing $10,000.000 but along came Phil Ivey. After three days of intense heads up play Phil had not only recouped this loss but had gone on to take a further $6.600.000 from Andy at which point the Texan billionaire gave in.
He also made the final table at the 2009 WSOP Main Event. Ivey was the favorite at the final table. When he busted out in seventh place for $1.4 million, the crowd was completely dumbfounded. On his final hand, Ivey’s A-K fell to Darvin Moon’s A-Q when the extremely lucky Moon hit a queen on the flop. Phil received a standing ovation from the crowd and the assembled mob of admiring poker players in attendance.
In 2010, Ivey managed to win his eighth bracelet in the $3,000 H.O.R.S.E. event. The final table was made up of a number of other notable players, including the likes of Bill Chen, Jeff Lisandro, John Juanda, and Chad Brown. At the 2013 WSOP APAC, Ivey won his ninth bracelet in the A$2,200 Mixed Event and at this year’s WSOP claimed his tenth bracelet in the $1,500 Eight Game Mix event. But what he wants the most is a WSOP Main Event bracelet.
With 10 World Series of Poker bracelets to his name, Ivey is tied with Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan for the second most all-time career bracelets, and at 38, he is the youngest poker player to win ten. Phil truly is one of the greatest and most well rounded poker players in the world!!
In terms of online poker, Phil could regularly be seen playing the nosebleed cash games on Full Tilt Poker playing under his real name before the site closed its doors to US players as a result of Black Friday on April 15th 2011. Also, he was a part owner of Full Tilt Poker.