Friday, July 17, 2009

Good Luck, Mr. Ivey

Logic: the art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. – Ambrose Bierce

All of the poker community, much of Las Vegas, and plenty of other folks are “a twitter” over Phil Ivey making the Nov 9. He is popular, photogenic, well known, highly marketable, etc., etc.
I admire Ivey, too. He is actually good at poker and he is not an ace-hole when on camera.
I would love to see him win and I sincerely wish him the best of luck. Perhaps he could usher in the next poker boom.
However, I don’t think he is likely to win. We have all witnessed plenty of well known players make the final table and fall short of winning. At the risk of stating the obvious, he is one of the short stacks. For him to win, he will likely need to either get really good cards or play very carefully until he can get it heads up or three way with one or two remaining amateurs. Think of when Joe Hachem won. With seven players left, he was the short stack at one point but he never went crazy. He played very patiently for approximately 12 hours and it served him well. The bigger stacks kept pummeling one another and he mostly avoided getting involved. He picked up a pot here or there but basically seemed to stay out of the way until all of a sudden, about 4:30am, he was the chip leader with four players left. He continued to let the other players self implode and when the smoke cleared, he was heads up against the lone remaining amateur.
He then (not surprisingly) went on to win the world championship. IMHO, this is the strategy that would give Ivey the best chance of winning.

However, I have seen him reach numerous final tables on the WPT and he is always one of the most aggressive players at the table. That worked well for Jerry Yang but that style of play has caused Ivey to be knocked out relatively early at most of the final tables I have seen him at. If he plays like that in November, I think it will be exceptionally challenging for him to win. He has said in the past that he is out to win the event and is not worried about the money. That is why he “goes for it” at those final tables. I hope he will mix up his playing style and remember that no one can win when there is still a table full of players. Even if he doesn’t win, I think it will greatly enhance the entertainment value of watching the WSOP Main Event if Phil Ivey is one of the last players to be eliminated.

1 comment:

Shrike said...

You have to remember that the WPT structures used to be horrible and no-one had any chips compared to the blinds late in the tournaments -- in fact, Ivey and the other FTP players even sued WPT in order to get them to improve the structures.

Although Ivey is relatively short-chipped, he still has over 30 big blinds entering the final nine. He should have some time to chip up without taking big risks. I expect Ivey will find a way to contend for the championship barring some bad luck.