WPT brings out the biggest gun
The World Poker Tour is a promotional juggernaut right now with its upcoming mega-festival at the Wynn set to smash records as it hosts the tournament with the largest live guarantee of all time. Despite a head-on collision with European Poker Tour (EPT) Prague, the WPT is promising a prize pool of $15m for the $10,400 Main Event.
will bolster an already impressive ambassador roster that includes poker legend Doyle Brunson
Part of its promotional push has seen umpteen package giveaways and oodles of $530 online satellite seat giveaways in the past few weeks. but down the home stretch, the WPT is bringing out perhaps the biggest gun in its arsenal with the signing of poker legend Phil Ivey as an ambassador. One of the most prominent players in poker history, he will bolster an already impressive ambassador roster that includes poker legend Doyle Brunson, music icon Steve Aoki, and poker vloggers Brad Owen, Andrew Neeme and Jaman Burton.
Ivey has a decorated history with the WPT, having competed in many of its major events. He has a total of nine final table appearances and in 2008, he won the L.A. Poker Classic, etching his name on WPT Champions Cup, now named after the late, great Mike Sexton.
Old and new
The World Poker Tour is an interesting mixture of old and new right now. It is one of the oldest and most iconic brands in the live realm, exploding during the poker boom of the 2000s and very much at the forefront of televised poker. It also possesses a new, vibrant, and youthful energy since merging with Asian giant PokerKing. This has resulted in the creation of the poker site WPTGlobal, the operator clearly setting its sights on domination through live and online synergy.
deserving legacy as a true poker icon”
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year with a series of high-profile partnerships, WPT CEO Adam Pliska could not have been more excited by the news of Ivey’s signature, saying: “Phil is one of the greatest to ever have played the game of poker. His career achievements and success as a frequent WPT final tablist underscores his deserving legacy as a true poker icon.”
In response, Ivey was lavish in his praise for the WPT and set himself the goal of helping to grow the game all around the globe.
“WPT is one of the most respected brands in poker, and I’m honored to become a WPT Ambassador,” Ivey said. “My commitment and passion towards poker has never been higher and I look forward to working with the WPT to showcase poker around the world, adding to its continued expansion.”
For his part, Pliska was equally lush in his admiration of the poker phenom, adding: “We have aligned the brand with talent and events that symbolize the very best in personal achievement. I cannot think of anyone who better represents that more than Phil, and I know players will appreciate the chance to interact with him at upcoming events.”
Endless poker success
Outside of WPT success, Ivey has ten World Series of Poker bracelets, $38m in live tournament earnings, and has been a regular in the nosebleed cash games both live and online for the better part of two decades. He was also a first ballot inductee to the Poker Hall of Fame in 2017.
for a period in the latter half of the 2010s, Ivey was a veritable ghost
Ivey has always been an enigmatic figure in the poker world. Camera-shy, he has demurred the spotlight, rarely taking interviews and preferring to go about his business as privately as possible. For a period in the latter half of the 2010s, Ivey was a veritable ghost and many wondered if we would see him compete in major tournaments again.
In fact, it was WPT that seemingly coaxed him back in June 2021 when he agreed to a very entertaining Joe Ingram interview ahead of the inaugural WPT $25,000 Heads Up Championship. Back when WPT and PokerKing were in their courtship phase, Ivey showed up in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for the 32-player invitational tournament, a live/online hybrid game which brought together a mix of poker legends, high-stakes poker beasts, mainstream celebrities, esports stars, and two online qualifiers.
WPT $25,000 Heads Up Championship
After three days of captivating poker action, the WPT $25,000 Heads Up Championship boiled down to eight combatants. Patrik Antonius, Phil Ivey, Sam Greenwood, Wictor Malinowski, Dan Smith, Stephen Chidwick, Chris Kruk, and Stefan Burakov all made the quarterfinals with just one more victory earning them a cool $100,000 cash.
Ivey defeated Chidwick to advance while Kruk bested Malinowski. In the other half of the draw, Antonius overcame Burakov while Greenwood beat Smith. In the semifinals, Ivey was victorious over Kruk and Antonius defeated Greenwood to set up a dreamy “Rail Heaven” clash.
In the final, the format switched from best-of-three to best-of-five. Tuning in from every corner of the globe, the audience buckled up for what they hoped would be a battle for the ages but, in the end, Ivey made short shrift of Antonius, closing out a 3-0 victory in about two hours. The title and the first prize payout of $400,000 was his, while Antonius got $200,000 for his efforts.
An “off-the-felt” experience with Phil Ivey?
One thing is for sure, Phil Ivey is still a poker force with which to be reckoned, undoubtedly one of the greatest exponents the game has ever seen. A master of all formats, he naturally intuits a lot of optimal lines while also possessing the ability to make exploitative adjustments that have a spookily high success rate.
Since the WPT $25,000 Heads Up Championship, Ivey has been busy, notching $6.7m in live tournament winnings including four victories, all in Cyprus. He has also finished runner-up on three occasions, twice in Cyprus and once in Las Vegas. He will be equally busy in the coming months with the WPT World Championship Festival at Wynn Las Vegas in December, where he is expected to play several events.
The WPT has also announced that Ivey will be involved in distinctive experiential fan engagements, including an exclusive “off-the-felt experience” on December 10. For now, the details of that remain a mystery but suffice to say, it will be big deal when it happens.