Poker News

Curiously citing the “current state of online poker” Ivey League, the poker training website started by poker professional Phil Ivey, will no longer upload training videos to its current menu. While the videos that are already there will continue to be accessible, there will be no “video training content” loaded after May 1.

The discontinuation of new video content for the site is important as the site sold yearly and monthly subscriptions to such access. For those with yearly subscriptions, they will automatically receive a refund of the balance of the year they’ve already paid. For those with a monthly subscription, they will have to cancel their month-to-month deals through the site.

The reason given for the discontinuation of training videos – “the current state of online poker” – is perhaps the most cryptic line in the announcement. Ivey League was created after one of the biggest disasters in online gaming history – “Black Friday” – and built a strong business utilizing excellent talent. Perhaps the “state” of online poker that is being cited is the difficulty in making an adequate return on investment for players, but any thoughts on what the statement means is completely up to those viewing from the outside.

To say that Ivey has had a difficult time with online poker might be an understatement. One of the founding members of Full Tilt Poker who was prominently featured on “Team Full Tilt,” Ivey soared when his home base was active. From Full Tilt’s inception, Ivey earned an estimated $20 million in online earnings, playing at the highest levels imaginable online. Then “Black Friday” occurred in 2011, shutting down Full Tilt Poker and knocking Ivey off onto other sites.

Ivey would return to playing on Full Tilt Poker after PokerStars saved the company in 2012, using the online moniker ‘Polarizing’ at the virtual tables. While it was the same game per se, Ivey’s results weren’t the same; he would lose over $5 million rather quickly and, as of his last noted appearance in June 2015, was in the red for almost $6.4 million, according to the High Stakes Database.

It was at this same point that Ivey began his experimentation with site ownership. He created Ivey Poker as a pseudo “training site” in January 2014, presumably with his eyes set on the legalization and regulation of online poker in North America, but it would shut its doors only 10 months later. As it closed operation, however, the site cryptically said that they were “working on multiple product extensions and new categories for Ivey Poker expansion in 2015.”

Ivey League was the eventual extension of Ivey Poker and, for some time, they were able to put a quality product together. With arguably the finest (and biggest) staff of poker professionals serving as coaches for the site – such players as Patrik Antonius, Cole South, Chris Wallace, and Andrew Lichtenberger were a part of the coaching lineup – Ivey League would offer coaching on several disciplines of the game instead of limiting themselves to just No Limit Texas Hold’em. The site was also well promoted in the tournament poker world, with such players as Mike Leah and Ronnie Bardah associated with Ivey League.

Ivey League’s start-and-stop issues might have been due to outside “real world” problems that Ivey was going through. His dual lawsuits in the United Kingdom (against Crockfords) and in Atlantic City (against the Borgata) for his usage of “edge sorting” seems to have taken Ivey away from his work in poker (Ivey lost both cases but has appealed). Add in his support of casino mogul Sheldon Adelson’s Macau properties (many were a bit dismayed when he and Tom ‘durrrr’ Dwan opened the Venetian Macau in 2015) and it hasn’t been a good decade for Ivey.

What will be in the future for Ivey, who used to be counted amongst one of the greats in the game? He is eligible this year for entry into the Poker Hall of Fame, where he should be a first-ballot induction, and the World Series of Poker is rolling around. With his 10 WSOP bracelets, he ranks behind only Phil Hellmuth and is tied with Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan for the most victories in the history of the event. Returning to the tables may be the best salve for Ivey’s business wounds, but we’ll have to wait until late May to see if Ivey will come home to the WSOP.

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