Ivey's not the King Yet

By: dtools22
Published: Jul 24th, 2009
With Ivey making the November 9 this year the poker world is buzzing with talks of Ivey being the best in the world. I'm not totally sold on him being head and shoulders above everyone else however I do think he has to be in the top 5 in the world right now when you factor in cash games, tournaments, holdem, and non-holdem games. The easiest comparison to make to Ivey is the self proclaimed best poker player in the world, Phil Hellmuth. While I cannot disagree that Ivey is all around a more proven player than Hellmuth, I do think the legend of Ivey has become greater than the player and he does get just a little too much credit.

Now again before you start thinking about the flaming you're going to drop on my ass when you finish reading this blog post remember this, I am not saying Hellmuth is better than Ivey. The argument I am going to put forward for you is specific to tournament poker and for the most part the WSOP. In this isolated set of conditions, I do think Hellmuth has the edge over Ivey and there are a few reasons why.

1) At the start of the WSOP 2009, Ivey had 5 bracelets to Hellmuth's 11. Adding the two Ivey won he is still short 4 WSOP wins. He certainly has the age advantage being about 12 years younger so he has some time to make up the 4 bracelets but I don't think Ivey is going to be gaining much ground in the next few years.

2) During the poker boom era coming into the WSOP 2009 Hellmuth lead all players with 4 WSOP bracelets between 2003 and 2008. A whole host of players had 3 in the last 6 years with Ivey trailing them all having only one WSOP bracelet in that time. Factoring in his two bracelets this year he still is one shy of Hellmuth, who has proven he is year in and year out the guy you want to bet on to win a WSOP bracelet.

3) Hellmuth has 11 WSOP bracelets in some form of Texas Holdem (limit, NL, and PL), Ivey has none. No one is going to argue that HE makes up by far the majority of the events played at the WSOP which gives Hellmuth a better chance again year in and year out to win a WSOP title than Ivey.

4) Ivey is a huge regular in Bobby's Room during the WSOP. He plays the biggest stakes in town on a regular basis and even more so during the WSOP. He has a hard time taking even $10K events seriously and there is no way he is motivated enough on his own to play in the $1500-$3000 buy in events without putting in action on the side. All of Hellmuth's wins since 2003 have been from buy ins $3000 and under, which means the fields are much larger and yet he has still been able to rack up more wins than Ivey. Hellmuth also plays many more events on a regular basis than Ivey.

5) While Ivey has been very close before to winning a WSOP HE bracelet, he has not been any closer than Hellmuth has been in winning a non-holdem bracelet. It's only a matter of time before Ivey and Hellmuth break through and get some wins in events they have yet to conquer at the WSOP.

We all love to hate Hellmuth and slobber over Ivey but the stats are there to set some people straight. Ivey is not racing with Hellmuth for the most bracelets of all time because he has too much ground to make up. Can he make things interesting absolutely, but let's not forget that this is the same guy that has one win in the 6 years leading up to his monster year in 2009. Let's see how he does in 2010 at the WSOP, if he can keep things moving on the right track then maybe people will have an argument. Right now there's just not enough there to say Ivey is King at the WSOP.


    1. When Hellmuth started winning bracelets there were less than 200 entries into these tournaments, some with less than 100. Hellmuth also had 7 bracelets before Ivey started, so it's taken Ivey 9 years to get 7 bracelets in much tougher fields, where Hellmuth has 11 total, with 6 (argueably 7) coming in much smaller fields. That is all.
    2. Let's forget for a minute all MTTs before 2003. The largest field Ivey had to get through to win a WSOP bracelet was 376 players, his other two wins had fields under 150. Hellmuth has 4 wins since 2003, more than anyone including Ivey, his SMALLEST field size was 194 runners and an average field size of 993 runners in his 4 wins.

      Phil Ivey has never won an MTT with more than 380 entrants, a feat Hellmuth has done 3 separate times. Five of Ivey's 7 bracelets overall had fields under 150 while Hellmuth has 7 wins in events with 150 runners of more. Hands down Ivey's fields have been significantly smaller
    3. lol. wait, so youre comparing him to Hellmuth when your criteria is tournaments, cash games and non hold em' games? hellmuth isn't even in the top 100 when you combine all this criteria. maybe i'm not understanding correctly.
    4. A few nights ago I saw someone post a thread saying Ivey was going to catch Hellmuth in the bracelet race in the next few years.

      What I am comparing is Ivey v Hellmuth at the WSOP. Ivey hands down is better when factoring all forms of the game into the equation, but he's no where near Hellmuth in the bracelet race, which is my point.
    5. Ivey > Hellmouth

      The comparison is, there is none. Ivey will win the main event. Phil is the goat (greatest of all time); all of his contemporaries say it. You say u take into a count , cash games, tourneys, holdem and knothole games yet the only reason Hellmouth stats are in the same hemisphere is because he is 12 years older. They are not mentioned in the same sentence in cash games so, I got nothing 2 say there. This is a pointless blog, everyone that knows anything knows Ivey is the Goat. Step ya game up dtools22.
    6. lol wat, Ivey has been playing at the wsop since 2000 and by his own admission does not take it seriously every year with the action in Bobbys room during this time. Hellmuth won his main event title in '89... lol. If you want to argue that his bracelets are in non HE events, take a look at his WPT success in regards to tournament NLHE. He has made numerous final tables which are only 6 handed btw. I think he has an aussie millions final table, and monte carlo millions win aswell. I'm not sure if it's verified but making this final table puts him No.1 in tournament winnings I think. He was already ahead of hellmuth in that category to begin with.

      When Ivey takes time to focus on tournament poker seriously, he has great results. He is also the only player to make the final 3 tables+ 4 times in the last 8 years in the wsop ME. If hellmuth could crush side games for first place money he probably wouldn't focus on tournaments as much either. Ivey is on a whole different level.
    7. I cant even take this blog seriously. Whoever doubts Ivey is not a sane person.
    8. Maybe you haven't watched an episode of high stakes poker when Ivey and Hellmuth were at the same table. Or for arguments sake, an episode of Poker after dark with both of them seated. Ivey is CLEARLY the better player NOW!!!!
    9. fwiw, i don't think dtools is trying to say that Hellmuth is better than Ivey, he's trying to say he doesn't think Ivey catches Hellmuth for most bracelets all time.

      That's a closer question (in the same way that Las Vegas is closer to New York than LA is) but still pretty wrong imo

      Pretty simple: Ivey is the best or among the very best in every single poker variant. Hold em, Omaha, Omaha8, Stud, Stud8, all the draw variants, all the lowball games and across betting structures (NL, PL, FL) Ivey is at or near the top. This means that he has a truly legitimate shot to win in every tournament he enters whether its a massive donkfest like the ME or a tiny field of specialists like the 2-7 draw event he took down.

      The same is simply not true of Hellmuth. He's a huge dog in (and consequently does not play) the high limit mixed games, meaning he's out of practice at the less common variants which he's not that great at to begin with.

      The only reason Hellmuth has a chance to stay ahead of Ivey long-term is that Ivey simply does not care about the 1k-5k events and barely cares about the 10k events (why should he, the buyin is a handful of big blinds), whereas Hellmuth thinks these events are the nuts. But even that advantage is gone if Ivey continues making multi-million dollar bracelet bets each Series.

      Cliffs: Ivey >>>>> Hellmuth and it won't be long before the all-time bracelets record reflects that
    10. Thanks for reading more than the title Lord_Supremo lol.

      A few weeks ago I saw a thread that Ivey hands down would not only catch Hellmuth, but pass him in the next two years. What I am saying here is that Ivey is a long way away from being proclaimed "neck and neck" with Hellmuth in the bracelet race.

      I'll lay out my point better here:

      Cash Games

      Ivey>>>>>>>>>>>&g t;>>>Hellmuth


      Ivey>>>>>>>>>>>&g t;>>>Hellmuth

      Holdem MTTs

      Hellmuth>Ivey and as a direct result on any given year Hellmuth is more likely to win a WSOP bracelet. He puts in more volume and is better at HE MTTs than Ivey. Case in point, Ivey has one HE MTT title on the WPT, all Hellmuth plays is HE.
    11. Your arguments are terribly result oriented based on past results. Ivey is far superior no limit hold'em player than helmuth if you've ever looked at Helmuth play. What makes Helmuth win bracelets is that he has a game that is fitted to exploit bad players.

      In any kind of game with decent players, he would get killed. Take the 40k tournament and play that every year, Helmuth would lose money whereas Ivey would be +ev guaranteed.

      The fact that Helmuth has more accomplishment is a pure volume thing, even in hold'em.

      If you just want to talk about bracelets. Ivey if motivated will destroy Helmuth. He can play all the games well and he has the poker knowledge experience to compete against people who is superior at a certain game like the triple draw this year.

      He's only 4 bracelets behind and Helmuth has played for an extra 12 years. Of course there's more events now, but when it's all said and done, Ivey can easily become the most decorated poker player at the WSOP.
    12. Guys, Look at number 4 on the blog. Every single one of you has agreed with me that Ivey doesn't care as much about the bracelets. Also, how else would you judge the competition while not being "results oriented". Ivey is all around a better HE player I don't agrue that, when just talking MTTs though he's done nothing to prove he's the best around. He has to win one before he gets the nod.

      Also, everyone gives Hellmuth shit for having won in smaller fields since most of his wins predate the poker boom...fine let's accept that logic. Since the poker boom Ivey's ave field size for his wins, 219, Hellmuth's, 993.5. Ivey has never won an MTT with more then 380 people in it.

      Also, forget about the 7 bracelets Hellmuth won before the poker boom. He has 4 in the last 6 years and Ivey has 3. Putting them on even footing Ivey is still behind.

      I understand we are talking about one of the best players of all time, but you guys have to let go of this notion that it's just a simple matter of him snapping his fingers, actually trying, and he wins. It devalues what he has accomplished over his career especially this year.
    13. LOL ur thing about Hellmuth has 4 and Ivey has 3 in last 6 yrs is retarded. Hellmuth can have 0 before this and Ivey has 3 and it won't matter...Ivey will still beat him in the end because Ivey is 20 years younger. Stu Ungar only had 3 bracelets or wtf ever by the time it was 1999, does that mean Hellmuth is better? Dear god I hope not...the amount of bracelets does not mean sh.it. Lisandro just got 3, does that put him even with Ivey? LOL @ ur blog.
    14. You say that Ivey has to be in the top 5 overall in cash, tourneys, and non holdem games. Exactly who would you put in front of him? He dominates the highest stakes mix games, he already has 7 bracelets, he has made 8 WPT final tables (all NLH) He has won tourneys all over the world. There is not one person you could make a logical argument for as an overall player than Ivey. And thats b4 he made the november 9. Name me one player more accomplished and tell me why you think he is better than Ivey.
    15. LOL - I read this and told myself before looking at your profile ("gtd he had like 500 PLB pts max") weird that I was nearly spot on.
    16. At some point Ivey will bet someone like 100mill that he can win 20 bracelets before he turns 40. at which point he will actually do it, and leave Hellmouth in the dust.

      Over Under 2 more bracelets for Hellmouth life time
    17. <-------------------------------------------
    18. Lol @ you all. I give you stats, you give me opinions. I say Hellmuth has more bracelets, you guys say only because he's been around longer. I say look at the last 6 years, you guys say it's erroneous.

      You all want to just try and rip me yet not a single one of you has brought a shred of evidence as to why Ivey is better. I don't disagree Ivey is the better player, I don't disagree that he's probably going to be the most decorated at some point before all is said and done, what I am saying is that to assume he's going to pass Hellmuth in the next few years is crazy.

      You guys are getting hung up on the Hellmuth part of this. So let's change things around a bit. Coming into this year's WSOP, Negreanu, Greenstein, Seidel, Chan, and Cunningham all had more with Cunningham having won 3 in the last 4 years leading up to 2009. Ivey had one in this same stretch for the same reasons as everyone else has stated: doesn't care, needs motivation, etc. Also, let's not forget that Ivey had these same massive bets in 2008 that he'd win a bracelet and not only did he fall short, he had 3 cashes and 1 FT where he busted in 9th. He's a phenom, he's the best in the world I don't deny either of those facts, and he doesn't have to be the most decorated of all time to get there.

      He made the ME FT, he's awesome, and I'm never going to say otherwise. What I'm simply saying is that not a single one of you wants to look at this rationally, you simply want to trash me for giving you the facts.

      Let's make this interesting, I'm going to make a new post today to clean this up a bit but simply put here's the topic: I'm going to start taking bets now on Ivey not winning a WSOP bracelet next year. I'm willing to listen to suggestions for odds or even other bets but I'm willing to put up or shut up with this.

      I gave you cry baby's facts, you just whined. Put up or shut up boys.
    19. Edit: To be fair darkhawk-200 you're right Ivey is now higher up than Hellmuth in MTT cashes, however Hellmuth has never cashed for more than $750K and is still up over 10Mil all time. Certainly debatable which is more impressive.


      herbstreet24, I only say top 5 all time because I think once you get to that point the difference between two players is so small that it's almost insignificant. For example, I don't think Ivey has a big edge over a guy like Partik Antonius in Cash Game play. You can argue that one all day but it's still something that can't really be proved.

      L Rocketz, YEEEEEEEEEEEEEES, Ivey is >>>>>>>>>>>>&g t;>>>>>>>>>>>> >>>>>>>>>>>>&g t;>>>>>>>>>>>> >>>>>>>> than Hellmuth. My point is you guys are cheapening his accomplishments at this year's WSOP to say all he had to do was focus to win. He will beat Hellmuth when both of them are done playing (likely meaning both are dead) but over the next few years he's not going to be king of the mountain yet.
    20. Dude you are begging to get flamed.... Your first paragraph makes very little sense and has no thesis or distinct point. Especially this ignorant sentence:

      "I'm not totally sold on him being head and shoulders above everyone else however I do think he has to be in the top 5 in the world right now when you factor in cash games, tournaments, holdem, and non-holdem games."

      When you factor all that together Ivery is HANDS DOWN the best in the world. Focusing specifically on tournaments it is arguable but I still feel Ivey is the best at the moment. Helmuth is the best tournament player of all time (also arguable), but it is only a matter of time before he gets passed if you don't believe that fine, no need to make a blog.. Especially when Ivey is in the November nine LOLOL dumb.
    Page 1 of 21 2

    Return to Blogs

    Quick Navigation