Phil Ivey

phil-ivey-300x200Phillip ‘Phil’ Ivey Jr. started playing poker, illegally, in Atlantic City, New Jersey as a teenager. In fact, one of his nicknames, ‘No Home Jerome’, derives from the fake identification he used to play live poker in those early days. Nevertheless, Ivey, who turned 42 in 2019, has blossomed into, arguably, the best all-round poker player in the world. He currently lies twelfth in the all-time money list, with $26.4 million in live earnings.

In the World Series of Poker (WSOP), Ivey has won ten bracelets, the same number as Johnny Chan and Doyle Brunson and five fewer than all-time leader Phil Hellmuth, who has fifteen bracelets to his name. Ivey won his first WSOP bracelet in 2000, when he defeated the late Thomas Preston Jr., better known as ‘Amarillo Slim’, heads-up in a Pot Limit Omaha event at Binion’s, Las Vegas; it was, in fact, the first time his illustrious opponent had been beaten heads-up at a final table in the WSOP.

In 2017, Ivey admitted to ‘edge sorting’ – that is, exploiting subtle defects on the back of playing cards to identify them as beneficial or otherwise – at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic Jersey. Consequently, he and his playing partner, Cheung Yin ‘Kelly’ Sun, were found in breach of the casino contract and ordered to repay $10.1 million in winnings They did not and, in early 2019, a federal judge granted permission for the Borgata to pursue assets belonging to Ivey in Nevada, having discovered that he holds non such assets in New Jersey.

Phil Hellmouth

phil-hellmuth-300x269Phillip ‘Phil’ Hellmouth Jr., still known to many as ‘The Poker Brat’, despite turning 55 in 2019, was born in Madison, Wisconsin. He went to college locally, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, before dropping out to focus on his poker activities. In the World Series of Poker (WSOP), Hellmouth earned his first cash as long ago as 1988, when he finished fifth in a Seven-Card Stud Split event at Binion’s, Las Vegas. However, the following year, at the age of 24, he won the WSOP $10,000 No Limit Hold’em World Championship at the same venue, making him, at the time, the youngest player to do so.

That record was beaten by Peter ‘Icegate’ Eastgate, aged 22, in 2008 and again, by Joe ‘The Kid’ Cada, aged 21, the following year, but Hellmouth still holds several WSOP records, including the most WSOP bracelets (15) and the most cashes (137). His victory in the WSOP Europe Main Event in 2012 also made him the only player ever to win the WSOP Main Event and the WSOPE Main Event. Hellmuth was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2007 and currently lies nineteenth in the all-time money list, with just shy of $23 million in live earnings.

For all his success in Texas hold’em and other poker variants, Hellmuth is still prone to foul-mouthed temper tantrums, particularly after a bad beat, and fully deserves his derogatory nickname. He was widely criticised for launching a verbal assault on James Campbell at the 2018 WSOP Main Event, simply because Campbell re-raised, all-in, after – at the time, unbeknown to Hellmuth – flopping a flush draw. As it turned out, Hellmuth folded, but Campbell failed to make his flush and lost the hand to the third player in the hand, Alex Kuzmin.