Phil Ivey

ARIA Renames The Ivey Room

As of Wednesday, February 20th, “The Ivey Room” will be what the place where Phil Ivey rests his head at night will be called, as it is no longer the name of the high stakes poker area at the ARIA Resort & Casino. The plaque outside the room has been removed and has been replaced with a new one which reads “Table 1”.

The Ivey Room, In Brief

The Ivey Room, named after Poker Hall of Famer Phil Ivey, opened just before the 2010 World Series of Poker in an effort to draw some of the nosebleed action away from the Bellagio and its world-famous “Bobby’s Room.” It did, though certainly not to the point where Bobby’s Room had to shut down or anything; apparently the town is big enough for the two of them.

The name of a single-table poker room isn’t anything that is going to cause tremors throughout the globe, but it really was quite the statement when you think about it. Phil Ivey was only 33 years old at the time and was already considered the best poker player in the world; the competition wasn’t even considered very close. And hell, he was considered the best player in the world for a few years before that, too, rivaled in the poker world arguably by only Chip Reese, who passed away in 2007 (trophy for the WSOP’s $50,000 Poker Players Championship is named after him).

Bobby’s Room is named after poker legend Bobby Baldwin, who also just so happened to be the president of the Bellagio when it opened in 1998. That the high-stakes poker room bore his name was cool, but not unusual. Phil Ivey, though, was still a young man in 2010 who probably still had his best poker years ahead of him and now he was receiving the honor of having his name hanging outside the door of the high stakes room at one of the most prestigious venues in Las Vegas.

Reason for Renaming is Awfully Vague

Phil Ivey, now 42 years old, joined Baldwin in the Poker Hall of Fame two years ago in his first year of eligibility. And now an era has come to an end, his name taken down at ARIA.

But why? The ARIA claims it’s just a thing to do.

“We thought it was time to rename the room,” ARIA Director of Poker Operations Sean McCormack told CardPlayer this week. “The idea to call it ‘Table 1’ actually came from Elayne [Teitelbaum], our host. It’s so fitting because a lot of players have been calling it ‘Table 1’ for a while now anyway. [They were] coming in and asking if table 1 had a game going or was available.”

So, The Ivey Room had its name changed for… reasons?

Very few people in the poker world are buying what McCormack and the ARIA are selling. It just makes no sense. It’s not that Table 1 isn’t a perfectly fine name – it does have a little gravitas and if lots of players have been calling it that, then sure, cool. But The Ivey Room sounded groovy, too. And even if it had nothing to do with possibly the greatest player to ever handle chips, it kind of sounds like an exclusive club where rich people go to smoke cigars and drink $1,000 bottles of scotch.

“Nothing lasts forever,” McCormack added. “Obviously Phil is still an incredible player and still very much relevant in the poker world, but we thought it was time for a rebrand.”

But why? Why was it time for a rebrand? Rebrands aren’t just done for kicks. They are done for a reason. Perhaps merchandise wasn’t selling well anymore, so a company/team wanted to give fans something new. Perhaps a team was shit for a long time and wanted to forge a new identity. Perhaps that team was the Milwaukee Brewers and thought it would be a good idea to ditch the most unique and interesting logo in the history of American sports and go with a generic, trash logo and dumb color scheme just because.

Or perhaps a company wants to rebrand because it wants to distance itself from something that had developed a negative connotation.

That has to be the real reason here. ARIA is owned by MGM Resorts International, the same company that owns the Borgata in Atlantic City. It is the Borgata that is in the midst of a prolonged legal battle with Ivey, who used a controversial “edge sorting” technique in 2012 to win nearly $10 million at baccarat at Borgata. Borgata won its case in 2016, as a New Jersey judge ordered Ivey to repay $10.13 million to the Borgata (this number includes half a million won at craps using baccarat winnings), but the Borgata has yet to collect. A judge recently permitted Borgata to go after Ivey’s assets in Nevada.

There’s no way it was just time for a chance. ARIA replaced Phil Ivey’s name on the high stakes poker room because its parent company is in a high-profile legal tussle with him. And that’s fine. I wouldn’t name something at my house after my neighbor who twice vandalized my property (well, maybe my toilet). I would, though, be honest about my reasons for it (he’s an asshole).

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