Phillip ‘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.