2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP) November Nine member Phil Ivey graces the cover of the November 2nd issue of ESPN: The Magazine. The expose, entitled “4 Days, 3 Nights, $1 Million,” chronicles Ivey’s jet-setting exploits at the craps tables in casinos around the world.
Chad Millman followed Ivey from Foxwoods to Austria, with his article explaining Ivey’s stature in the industry: “Phil Ivey is a poker pro, but to call him that limits the scope of his game. It’s like saying Jay-Z is just a rapper. Ivey is an all-around player, a man with the need and nerve to wager obscene amounts on poker, pro and college sports, craps, or his own golf game.”
The tale began at Foxwoods in Connecticut, where Ivey, a whale, was put up in the Mashantucket Suite, a two-story gem. Instead of heading to play poker, his bread and butter, Ivey hit the craps tables in a private room, ordering the most expensive bottle of wine in the house (worth $2,100) to get the evening started off on the right foot. After 25 minutes at the table, Ivey was up $185,000, betting $30,000 to $50,000 per place bet. The wine didn’t even arrive until Ivey was ready to head out, leading Millman to comment, “We [got] it to go.”
After Ivey’s personal jet was grounded in Groton-New London Airport, the facility’s manager came out armed with a magazine featuring Ivey on its cover. On aviation officials questioning Ivey’s erratic flight pattern, he noted, “I guess they don’t know you.” Ivey signed the airport manager’s magazine copy before the poker pro and November Nine member tipped him $1,000 for having “to stay open so late.”
In Montreal, the crew headed to the local casino, where Ivey cashed a check for $1 million to seed his bankroll. Shortly after the start of his craps session, Ivey had bled $360,000. Then, Chris “Gotti” Lorenzo, his manager, took to the felt and rolled point after point, number after number, boosting Ivey’s arsenal of chips to $2.5 million after just 20 minutes of play. Then, Millman stepped up and lost Ivey $240,000 after hitting a seven with several place bets out. Ultimately, Ivey left Montreal up $752,000, or nearly $1 million after just 24 hours on the trip.
Ivey and company then headed for Amsterdam, where Millman painted a picture of Ivey’s social life: “Now that he’s made the WSOP’s final table, Lorenzo has pushed him to pull back the curtain a bit. He’s an A-list celeb among A-list celebs, texting with Michael Phelps about attending D.C. charity events, going backstage with Jay-Z, golfing with Michael Jordan.”
Millman also recapped the source of some of Ivey’s wealth, explaining that he took $16.6 million off of billionaire Andy Beal as part of the “Corporation” three years ago. He continued, “Last year, [Ivey] reportedly won more than $7 million online. And while he has already won $1.2 million for making the final table – and stands to earn $8 million more if he wins it all – he’s made side bets worth another $4 million with people who doubt him.”
The article also spotlighted several aspects of Ivey’s unique high-stakes lifestyle. Besides jet-setting around the world seemingly at will, Ivey drives an SLR McLaren worth $500,000 and a Rolls-Royce Phantom worth $400,000. He lives on a golf course in Las Vegas and put his sister through law school. He’s one of the key faces behind Full Tilt, the second largest online poker room in the world. Ivey’s “office,” so to speak, contains three computer monitors, five flat-screen televisions, and the arcade version of Pac-Man.
The journey ended with a Full Tilt Poker function in Salzburg and the poker pro having earned a crisp $1 million over the course of four days. Check out the November 2nd issue of ESPN The Magazine featuring Ivey.