WSOP Top 50: Phil Ivey’s Dominance of All Games Lands Him at #4

Phil Ivey has 10 WSOP bracelets, a Main Event final table appearance and comes in at #4 on the WSOP Top 50. (WSOP photo)

2019 marks the 50th annual World Series of Poker. The most prestigious poker festival in history has played a pivotal role in creating many of the legends and superstars of the game. To commemorate the occasion, PocketFives editorial staff each ranked the top 50 players in WSOP history in an effort to define and rank the most important, influential, and greatest WSOP players of all time. 

Phil Ivey

10 60 $6,303,530 33

Right in the middle of the 2000 World Series of Poker, Amarillo Slim was heads-up in a $2,500 Pot Limit Omaha event for what could have been his fifth career bracelet. Across the table from him was a 23-year-old from New Jersey who had made his WSOP debut just a few days earlier. Preston had never been heads-up and lost.

Enter Phil Ivey.

Ivey went on to beat Slim that night to win his first bracelet and thus began one of the most outstanding careers in WSOP history. Over the next 18 years, Ivey went on to become just the fourth poker player to reach double digits in the bracelet category and the owner of one of the most complete WSOP resumes ever assembled.

In 2002, Ivey went from “kid with one bracelet” to legitimate superstar. He took down three separate events that year; $1,500 Seven Card Stud, $2,500 Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo, and $2,000 SHOE and put the poker world on notice.

One year later, a fateful river card famously prevented Ivey from making the final table of the WSOP Main Event but helped launch poker into a different stratosphere. Down to 10 players, Ivey and Chris Moneymaker clashed in a pot with Ivey holding pocket nines for a full house on a QhQs6s9c board. Moneymaker, holding AhQd, bet and Ivey moved all-in over the top. Moneymaker called and then stood and watched the dealer deliver the As river card to eliminate Ivey in tenth. Had Ivey won the hand, he could have been one of the chip leaders at the final table.

Ivey picked up another bracelet in 2005, and then won two more in 2009. In the middle of the November Nine era, Ivey made his way through 6,485 other players to make the final table of the Main Event. The media, both within the industry and mainstream, spent three months talking about Ivey and how he was going to be on poker’s biggest stage with a chance to win its biggest prize. November came and Ivey fizzled out in a seventh-place finish. The $1,404,014 he earned there is his largest WSOP cash yet.

While those two cashes are the highlights of Ivey’s Main Event record, he has cashed six times in the event over the course of his career.

2002 23rd $40,000
2003 10th $82,700
2005 20th $304,680
2009 7th $1,404,014
2014 430th $25,756
2018 547th $23,940

In the summer of 2010, Ivey won his eighth bracelet in an eighth different poker variant. Ivey beat out 477 other players including a final that included Chad Brown, David ‘ODB’ Baker, Jeffrey Lisandro, John Juanda, and runner-up Bill Chen to win a $3,000 HORSE event.

Proving himself as a master of all games, Ivey’s ninth and tenth bracelets came in 8 Game mixed events in 2013 and 2014. All told, Ivey has played nine different poker variations on his way to collecting 10 bracelets. Despite all of his Main Event success though, Ivey has yet to win a bracelet in a No Limit Hold’em event, though it was part of the game rotation in both 8 Game wins.

In 2011, in the aftermath of Black Friday, Ivey elected to not play any WSOP events. With thousands of players having money held on Full Tilt Poker, Ivey declared it was unfair for him to play the WSOP when others couldn’t. He released a statement at the time that said in part, “I am not playing in the World Series of Poker as I do not believe it is fair that I compete when others cannot.”

Ivey also skipped the 2017 WSOP in its entirety while involved in lawsuits in both England and Atlantic City over his baccarat play.

Ivey has cashed three times in the $50,000 Players Championship, including a third-place finish in the inaugural event in 2006. He followed that up with a 12th place result in 2008 and a 9th place finish in 2018.

Ivey’s WSOP record at the final table is also very impressive. He’s made 28 final tables since 2002 and has won 35.7% of those. He has a 10-4 heads-up record and the only four players to have beaten him for a bracelet are Huck Seed, Sammy Farha, Chris Reslock, and Andy Frankenberger.