How Ivey’s Nine WSOP Bracelets Stack Up
Earlier this week, Phil Ivey won his 9th career World Series of Poker bracelet by taking down a side event at the inaugural WSOP Asia Pacific. That event, 2013 WSOP APAC Event 3 — A$2,200 Eight Game, drew 81 entries and awarded Ivey A$51,840 in prize money.
Ivey’s repeated ability to get to the final table of WSOP events over the last 13 years is nothing short of extraordinary. Since he burst onto the scene as a 24-year-old with a win in the $2,500 PLO rebuy event at the 2000 WSOP, Ivey has made at least one WSOP final table every year except for 2004 and 2011. He did not play any events in 2011 due to the post-Black Friday fallout at Full Tilt Poker, a site he formerly endorsed and partially owned.
Ivey’s full list of WSOP final tables follows. Field size is in parentheses and bold indicates a win:
- 2000: $2,000 NLHE (396); $2,500 PLO with rebuys (100)
- 2001: $5,000 Omaha Hi/Lo (107)
- 2002: $1,500 Omaha Hi/Lo (339); $1,500 Seven-Card Stud (253); $2,000 HORSE (156); $2,500 Stud Hi/Lo (126); $2,000 SHOE (143)
- 2003: $5,000 Razz (31); $5,000 Seven-Card Stud (96); $2,500 PLO with rebuys (120)
- 2004: none
- 2005: $5,000 PLO with rebuys (134)
- 2006: $5,000 Omaha Hi/Lo (265); $50,000 HORSE (143)
- 2007: $5,000 Seven-Card Stud (180); $5,000 HORSE (192)
- 2008: £2,500 HORSE (110)
- 2009: $2,500 NL 2-7 (147); $2,500 O.E. (376); $10,000 NLHE Main Event (6494)
- 2010: $3,000 HORSE (478)
- 2011: none
- 2012: $5,000 Seven-Card Stud Hi/Lo (212); $10,000 PLHE (179); $5,000 Omaha Hi/Lo (256); $10,000 HORSE (178); $2,500 Mixed Hold’em (393)
- 2013: A$2,200 Eight-Game (81)
Some interesting stats come out of this list. Ivey has made 27 WSOP final tables in his career. His strike rate for a top three finish is more than 50% if he makes the final table. He’s won 9 events, finished as the runner-up four times, and came in 3rd place three times.
Only two of Ivey’s nine wins have come in events with more than 300 entries. In fact, 21 of his 27 final tables have come in events with fewer than 300 players. There are several reasons for this, including the relative unpopularity of the non-hold’em variants at which Ivey has excelled at the WSOP and the expensive price point of many of these events. That small field sizes are offset somewhat by the relative toughness of those fields and Ivey’s incredible performance in the 2009 Main Event, in which he finished 7th out of 6,494 players.
As someone who made his chops as an Atlantic City poker player, it’s not surprising that Ivey is a highly skilled Omaha and Stud player. Nearly half of his final tables wins are in Omaha or Stud variants, with another nine final tables and 4 wins in mixed games that included Omaha and Stud variants.
Noticeably absent from Ivey’s WSOP wins are any in hold’em variants. Ivey has only final-tabled a WSOP hold’em event four times, finishing 8th, 5th, 7th and 2nd. In that regard he is the anti-Phil Hellmuth, who captured 11 WSOP bracelets in hold’em variants before finally breaking out of the mold in 2012 by winning No. 12 in $2,500 Razz.
That’s not to say Ivey doesn’t have any hold’em skills. He obviously does; he won the 2008 L.A. Poker Classic $10,000 NLHE event, beating out 664 other players. He’s obviously a well-rounded poker player, a man of extraordinary ability. I watched him at the 2010 $3,000 HORSE final table; he started heads-up play as a significant underdog and absolutely dismantled his opponent, Bill Chen.
All the same, it’s curious that he hasn’t had more success in WSOP no-limit hold’em events.