Amidst the controversy and speculation over the future of Full Tilt Poker, one of its most recognized sponsored players, Phil Ivey, has dodged the public eye from the beginning of conversation. Although poker has progressed in the absence of one of the best players in the world, followers can’t help but wonder — Where is Phil Ivey?
Phil Ivey’s persona has never been conducive to publicity, nonetheless the popular poker star has been seen even less often since the shutdown of his parent online poker employer, Full Tilt Poker. While Ivey has been seen (from occasional appearances at craps tables in Las Vegas), the public hasn’t heard from Ivey since he filed a motion to sue FTP on May 31st of this year.
The lawsuit — centered around the premise that FTP players (and Ivey) were justified in the disappointment of not being reimbursed for their account balances — was issued to assist in rectifying the problem according to Ivey’s Facebook Fan page.
After a series of statements from Ivey, his attorney, and also the staff and lawyers of Full Tilt Poker, eventually the claim was dismissed on Ivey’s part after he believed that the company was engaging in actions that were beneficial to the livelihood of FTP players.
But despite his decision to cease his class-action lawsuit, Ivey did go on to boycott the 2011 World Series of Poker. This choice was made due to his disappointment in terms of the “economic harm” FTP’s insolvency had done to its players.
Ivey’s full statements can be read below:
“For many years, I have been proud to call myself a poker player. This great sport has taken me to places I only imagined going and I have been blessed with much success. It is therefore with deep regret that I believe I am compelled to release the following statement.”
“I am deeply disappointed and embarrassed that Full Tilt players have not been paid money they are owed. I am equally embarrassed that as a result many players cannot compete in tournaments and have suffered economic harm.”
“I am not playing in the World Series of Poker as I do not believe it is fair that I compete when others cannot. I am doing everything I can to seek a solution to the problem as quickly as possible.”
“My name and reputation have been dragged through the mud, through the inactivity and indecision of others and on behalf of all poker players I refuse to remain silent any longer. I have electronically filed a lawsuit against Tiltware related to the unsettled player accounts. As I am sure the public can imagine, this was not an easy decision for me.”
“I wholeheartedly refuse to accept non-action as to repayment of players funds and I am angered that people who have supported me throughout my career have been treated so poorly.”
“I sincerely hope this statement will ignite those capable of resolving the problems into immediate action and would like to clarify that until a solution is reached that cements the security of all players, both US and International, I will, as I have for the last six weeks, dedicate the entirety of my time and efforts to finding a solution for those who have been wronged by the painfully slow process of repayment.”
Phil Ivey has been a ghost since the release of these comments, and continues his absence on trendy poker forums such as TwoPlusTwo.com and Subject:Poker that could’ve potentially redeemed his name.
But despite his preference to remain silent, details about the balance of his FTP account, along with the monetary transactions that have taken place over the course of the past few years were released just a few months ago.
Online grinder, author and TwoPlusTwo forum moderator Noah Stephens-Davidowitz was very thorough in the accumulation of documented FTP statistics and his dialogue, and according to the reports, Ivey has been the recipient of million dollar loans from FTP and remains as one of the primary beneficiaries from their yearly stipends; a salary that has seen several of his close colleagues Lederer and Ferguson amass scrutiny over.
From June 2009 to April 2011, Ivey borrowed money totaling $10,715,000, accrued $1.2 million in marketing payments, and repaid nearly half of his debt within this duration.
It’s important to note, that because this information was gathered from FTP’s internal systems, it is incomplete, and does contain gaps of missing data. Also, there could potentially be wire transfers, player-to-player transfers, or other untraceable sources that could reveal a more accurate depiction of Ivey’s status with FTP.
More appropriately, this information is being relayed to provide a glimpse into the operations of Full Tilt Poker.
Phil Ivey was receiving loans from Full Tilt Poker generally in the total of $500,000 or $1 million. The earliest date that the Subject:Poker data revealed in terms of a loan was in late 2008 for $1 million. The loans in which Ivey received were marked as an “advance,” with Rich Bitar being one of the main constituents who approved these loans.
Ivey’s account was directly provided with these amounts. From July through August of 2009, Ivey received $3 million dispersed through six $500K installments. Ivey repaid $3 million between late October and November 2009, despite recording additional $500K and $1 million advances on November 13th and November 29th.
In possible connection to the repayments, the site HighStakesDB has Ivey winning nearly $9.5 million in the nosebleed cash games between the months of October and November. Around that time, the infamous Viktor “Isildur1” Blom appeared on the site, and Ivey’s bankroll grew exponentially because of him. This may or may not have led to his willingness to pay back the debts.
However, after this period, there seems to be much missing data. FTP has statistical evidence that Ivey did receive an additional $3,125,000 in loans after Spring 2010 up until January of this year, however the last repayment was in early 2010 for $1 million.
It has been calculated that the difference between what Ivey borrowed and repaid is -$6,125,000.
When Full Tilt Poker released the statement after Ivey’s lawsuit was cancelled mentioning that Ivey “could assist the company in these efforts by paying back a large sum that he owes the site,” this is likely what they were referring to. That statement, being released on June 1st, sheds light on the fact that Ivey may still indeed owe the company money that could help pay back overdue players.
It is also clear that not only Ivey, but many other Full Tilt sponsored pros, have received substantial payments for television appearances, interviews, and wearing logoed merchandise at live and broadcasted events that could be relinguished in good faith.
If these types of transactions are common amongst multiple sponsored Full Tilt Poker pros, these financial expenditures could be the bulk of costs that FTP has incurred over the past few years. The ownership/sponsorship relationship that has allegedly grown between several players may have also presented a conflict of interests detrimental to the site’s operation.
Ivey’s Facebook page, along with Twitter account, have remained inactive since his last statements. He also hasn’t appeared much (if at all) in his namesake Ivey’s Room, at the Aria Hotel & Casino Resort in Las Vegas.
Let’s hope Ivey comes out of hibernation soon to put in his two cents. Literally.
For more information, be sure to check out the official release from Noah Stephens-Davidowitz.