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sabato 15 giugno 2024

Ivey snags 11th WSOP gold bracelet

credits: WSOP

The debate about who the greatest poker player of all time is could be endless, with a hundred different opinions from a hundred different people. But there is no doubt about one player who belongs in that conversation, and he showed on Day 4 of Event #29: $10,000 Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw Championship (6-Handed) that he's still got it.

Phil Ivey, acknowledged as perhaps the best player alive for 20 years, ended a decade-long drought at the World Series of Poker when he defeated Danny Wong heads-up to win his 11th bracelet. The win moves him past the likes of Johnny Chan, Erik Seidel, and the late, great Doyle Brunson and into second place on the all-time leaderboard. Just Phil Hellmuth looms ahead of him.

"It's good. It feels good. It feels good to win always," Ivey said, with a large crowd gathering to capture the moment a true legend of the game achieved a new career milestone.

Poker has evolved significantly since the start of the 21st century. The game has seen the growth of online poker, young stars who played more hands in one day than some of the old-school pros played in a year. Solvers and game theory now predominate among a new generation of pros who spend more time looking at charts than staring down opponents.

Throughout it all, Ivey has ruled supreme. His first bracelet, back in 2000, was won against Amarillo Slim. He's now competing against some players who weren't even born when he first established himself as the game's premier player. The priorities have changed: Ivey is now a family man, unable to spend countless hours playing as he once did.

But the fire is still there, and so is the elite talent. "I'm motivated. If I can play I will. A lot of times I'm not in town," he said. "I keep showing up. Playing, performing. I want to keep winning."

Ivey has resumed the hunt for Hellmuth's record with his victory today, but that's not what motivates him going forward. "I'm not thinking about that. I'm just playing. Just playing tournaments when I can," he said.

He once seemed sure to challenge Hellmuth, winning five bracelets by the age of 30 and 10 by the age of 40. But 10 years went by without a title, during which Ivey sometimes didn't even appear at the WSOP. Other players arrived to snatch away the crown. Ivey showed he's not going away without a fight today.

The Limit 2-7 Lowball Triple Draw Championship (6-Handed) event drew 149 entrants for a prize pool of $1,385,700. Three players returned to play on the unscheduled Day 4 at 4 p.m. after 13 hours weren't enough to crown a champion yesterday. Ivey entered as the short stack with 2,260,000 as Wong was the chip leader with 3,730,000, followed by Jason Mercier with 2,955,000.

Ivey made his move early, drawing a wheel in a massive pot against Mercier to virtually tie Wong for the chip lead. Wong, though, began pulling away as he was dealt a pat eight to win a pot off Mercier, knocking Mercier down to less than 1,000,000.

Mercier doubled up twice before he got his last 170,000 in the middle against both Wong and Ivey. He finished with a 9-7-5 as Wong was drawing to an 8-6. Both players peeled Wong's last card, which turned out to be a seven and complete Wong's hand. Mercier was sent to the rail in third place as Wong led Ivey 5,315,000 to 3,630,000 at the start of heads-up play.

His lead wouldn't last long, however, as Ivey made another wheel against Wong's 9-8 to rocket into the chip lead.

Ivey left Wong with less than 1,000,000 after making an 8-7 as he began to climb closer toward the title. Wong doubled up once when he drew to his own 8-7, but he was soon after forced all in for 250,000. Wong patted a 10-8 while Ivey took one holding 7-7-5-4-3. He ended up peeling a deuce on his last card to make the wheel, and a bracelet drought that began 3,639 days ago came to an end.

Ivey is back atop the poker mountain. He conquered one of the strongest fields on the WSOP calendar, proving, even after all these years, he's still among the best.


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