After a few years where he didn’t release any new material (or at least any material that was respected by the audience), rapper LL Cool J blasted back on the scene in 1991 with an album and song of the same name, Mama Said Knock You Out. The first line of the song set the tone, with LL Cool J defiantly stating, “Don’t call it a comeback, I never left.” Could we potentially be seeing a comeback, however, from the recent video that has emerged from Barry Greenstein interviewing fellow Poker Hall of Famer Phil Ivey?
Looks Good, But Still Mysterious
In two undated videos from his sponsor Poker King entitled “A Conversation with Phil Ivey,” Ivey sits down with Greenstein to basically talk about where Ivey has been over the past few years. In one of the videos, Ivey reflects with Greenstein (it is hard to determine where the video was filmed, but it is thought that it is Greenstein’s home) about how his game has changed over the past few years. Ivey tells Greenstein that one of the biggest things that has changed is how his mental game has improved.
“When you were spending all that time on your physical health, were you doing enough on your mental health?” Greenstein directly asks bald (shaven?) Ivey, who still looks to be in excellent physical shape (let’s just say he’s been in the weight room recently). “I neglected my mental health for a long time,” Ivey responds, “The last year and a half I’ve been focused on my mental health…I’m meditating a lot, praying, doing yoga…and I’m thinking of ways to be of help to other people.”
Ivey expanded on this, after a question from Greenstein, that his youth was in pursuit of monetary and material success and that it wasn’t enough. “I had material things that I thought would make me happy…you realize, at some point, that…even though I was successful, I never actually felt successful. So, there were a lot of things that I needed to deal with…and I’m still dealing with it now. (But) I’m in a good place now.”
The twosome discuss online poker versus live poker (Ivey feels that online poker is safer than live), the difference between poker in the U. S. versus Asia (Ivey feels those players in Macau have more stamina than any other players), and Ivey’s partnership with Poker King, which markets its wares to Europe and Asia. “The two owners absolutely love poker,” Ivey says, “and they want to do good things in poker. That’s important for me…I’m excited to be a part of the Poker King’s community.”
No Signal As To Return to U. S. Action
One thing that isn’t talked about in the videos is whether Ivey will make a return to playing poker on U. S. soil. The last time that Ivey was seen in the U. S. at a card table in Las Vegas was his final table run at the Poker Players’ Championship at the 2019 World Series of Poker. His $124,410 in winnings from that tournament, however, were seized by the Borgata in Atlantic City for partial repayment of the legal decision against him from the “edge sorting” case in the New Jersey court system.
Since that time, Ivey was been a big part of the 2019 World Series of Poker Europe at King’s Casino in Rozvadov (earning over $1.6 million in cashes) and did well at the partypoker LIVE Bahamas tournament in November 2019 (another roughly $500,000). His last cash in tournament poker was in Sochi, Russia, in March 2020 during the partypoker MILLIONS Sochi Super High Roller Series, but he’s apparently been doing well in the Macau cash games and in improving himself both physically and mentally.
Nowhere in the discussions with Greenstein does Ivey give any inkling that he’s looking to return to the U. S. to play, however. Perhaps the videos being released at this time are an indicator, or are they just a promotion for Poker King? There is still plenty of mystery around Phil Ivey, and he doesn’t appear to be in a hurry to clear any of it up.