Phil Ivey joined the most renowned fraternity in poker tonight, which is the short list of players with ten or more gold bracelet victories at the World Series of Poker. With his latest win in the $1,500 buy-in Eight-Game Mix event, Ivey’s name gets chiseled into the record book alongside Phil Hellmuth (13 wins), Johnny Chan (10 wins), and Doyle Brunson (10 wins). Ivey steamrolled over a field of 485 players at the Rio in Las Vegas, picking up yet another decisive victory in an illustrious career filled with highlights. Shortly after being eliminated from the $50,000 buy-in Poker Player's Championship two days ago, Ivey took his seat in this event. With innumerable gold bracelet wagers on the line worldwide and the number of events remaining on the schedule dwindling to less than 14, one sensed that Ivey was on even more of a mission.Despite being at the bottom of the chip count at the end of Day One, the player who has often been called the world’s greatest poker talent wasn’t to be denied. He arrived at the start of Day Three ranked in third place out of 14 remaining players, then stormed over just about everyone in the field en route to a triumph that might have been the most lucrative of his illustrious 15-year career.Aside from winning first prize totaling $166,986, Ivey is widely reported to have won considerably more in side bets made on the proposition of winning a bracelet this year. While the precise numbers are unknown, it was clear that Ivey took as much relief in the victory as joy.“It’s number ten. That’s a good number,” Ivey said afterward. “Me and Daniel [Negreanu] made these bets. That’s what I’m talking about. I said either me or him were going to win [a gold bracelet] and we took even money. Me and him were both very deep in this tournament. This was a great opportunity. The tournaments are dying down. There’s not too many left. I knew I had to get this one, or else it was going to be pretty tough from here.”Ivey’s victory was all the more satisfying for whom he defeated heads-up. Longtime friend Bruce Yamron, a WSOP veteran with Atlantic City connections ended up second to Ivey. Oddly enough, Yamron knew Ivey well from his days as a cash game player in on the East Coast and enjoyed one of the high points of his career in playing his pal heads-up for the gold bracelet. Yamron was within a big hand or two of pulling off what would have been a monumental upset. He had the chip lead heads-up at one point. However, Yamron couldn’t sustain the momentum as just about everything went Ivey’s way in the final two games that were spread in the eight-game rotation, Seven-Card Stud and Omaha High-Low Split.Ivey smiled afterward, but still remained largely reserved and cool, consistent with the image that has both marveled and mystified everyone who follows the game. That said, the historical significance of the moment wasn’t lost on Ivey.“Doyle is one of my poker idols. When I first game to Las Vegas, him and Chip [Reese], we were all playing poker, so it’s very meaningful to tie him,” Ivey said. “It’s not too fair of a race because he doesn’t play too many tournaments anymore. I’m in there playing a lot of them. I just got finished playing with Doyle last week...we played for 12 hours and he’s still as sharp as he can be. Yes, it’s meaningful.”Ivey’s status within the poker world, and indeed the gambling world, is legendary. He’s accomplished more in a shorter time frame than anyone in history. He cashed and won his first gold bracelet in 2000, defeating poker legend “Amarillo Slim” Preston heads up. Since then, he’s won astronomical sums not just in poker but in sports, casino games, and on the golf course. Now at age 38, Ivey shows no signs of slowing down.With a three-way tied between Ivey and rivals Brunson and Chan, the next hurdle will be even larger – which is overcoming a three-bracelet advantage currently enjoyed by Hellmuth. However, it should be noted that Hellmuth is nine years older than Ivey and has played the WSOP for about that much time longer.“Do I think I can catch Phil Hellmuth? Sure, I think I can catch him,” Ivey responded when asked about the ongoing gold bracelet race. “It’s possible. We just have to see how it goes. I just have to keep in playing at this pace. I got to keep playing a lot of them because he [Hellmuth] plays a lot of them, so it’s a lot of work.” So, what’s next for the player at the top of his game and potentially destined to break even more records in the future?“It’s the World Series of Poker and I always like to come out and support this,” Ivey said. “The World Series is the only tournament that has all the group of games. It’s really important to have Stud and Pot-Limit Omaha and Eight-or-Better. Because they have it, that’s one the reasons I come out and support it. It’s true to poker.”
The finale was topped off by Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the WSOP presenting Ivey with his gold bracelet tableside among a cheering crowd, albeit mixed in with a few stunned and saddened faces. Stewart called the moment, "yet another monumental achievement in a career loaded with headlines."
This year’s $1,500 Eight-Game Mix event drew 485 players, which resulted in a $654,000 prize pool. The top 49 players each earned a payday. Some of the notables who cashed include Greg Raymer (40th), Brandon Cantu (29th), David "ODB" Baker (20th), and Daniel Negreanu who finished just shy of the final table in ninth place.Also of note was Dan Heimiller, who finished in third place. The winner of this year’s Seniors Championship had a shot at becoming the second repeat winner at this year’s series after George Danzer, and a three-time career title holder. However, he couldn’t catch up to Ivey in the chip count. No doubt, this night and the tournament belonged to a player who seems in a league all his own.
Here are the final table results from the $1,500 buy-in Eight-Game Mix event:
1st: Phil Ivey- $166,9862nd: Bruce Yamron- $103,1623rd: Dan Heimiller- $66,1104th: Aaron Steury- $44,1955th: Stephen Chidwick- $30,4266th: Yuebin Guo- $21,5927th: Christopher Haller - $15,720