To anybody with even a mild interest in professional poker, Phil Ivey’s return to the WSOP was no doubt one of the biggest stories of the year. He made the surprise decision to skip the 2011 WSOP after what was deemed by some as a self-serving move to get his money from the failing Full Tilt Poker. While people still question this move today, there’s no questioning his play on the felt since Ivey has returned to the 2012 WSOP with a vengeance.
Thus far, he’s made the final table of Event #15, Event #18 and Event #24 – and we’re not even halfway through the 2012 WSOP! Before his virtual hiatus from poker last year, Ivey was often touted as the best all-around player in the game. It’s safe to say that he’s done nothing to hurt this reputation lately after making three WSOP final tables within a six-day span. You can check out each of his deep runs in these tournaments below along with some of his other impressive accomplishments this year.
WSOP Event #15 – $5,000 Seven Card Stud Hi-Low
Ivey stayed near the top of the leaderboard in this 212-player tournament from the beginning and really generated a buzz after landing on a final table that included Adam Friedman, Bryn Kenney, John Monnette and Todd Brunson. Unfortunately for Ivey, he never really threatened to win the gold bracelet here and ended up busting out in seventh place. The $34,595 cash wasn’t of much significance to the poker legend, but the finish did serve to let people know that he was back.
WSOP Event #18 – $10,000 Pot-Limit Hold’em
Many of poker’s best turned out for this expensive $10k buy-in event and Ivey was one of them. At some point during Day 2, he took the chip lead over this 179-player field and kept building his stack as the final table approached. Despite having a final table chip lead, there were no guarantees for Ivey because Andy Frankenberger, Hoyt Corkins, Matt Marafioti, Shaun Deeb and Ali Eslami were also still alive at this point.
By the time the heads-up portion of this match came around, Frankenberger and Ivey were the only two players left. This presented an excellent chance for Ivey to grab his ninth career WSOP gold bracelet since he had the chip lead. But the experienced Frankenberger certainly wasn’t giving up since he traded chips back and forth for quite some time. Much to the crowd’s surprise, the former Wall Street trader eventually took the lead from Ivey and went on to win his second career WSOP bracelet along with $445,899; Ivey earned $279,559 for being the runner-up.
WSOP Event #24 – $5,000 Omaha Hi-Low
The 2012 WSOP was starting to become the Phil Ivey show after he took the chip lead in this tournament going into the final scheduled day. He was still the leader when the final table was decided, and Scotty Nguyen, Meng La and Mike “The Mouth” Matusow were also hunting for another bracelet.
Based on the high level of skill at this table, play lasted for what seemed like an eternity. By the time Ivey finally busted out in third place ($136,036), Nguyen and Joe Cassidy decided to come back for an unscheduled fourth day because they were too tired to play heads-up. In the end, Cassidy won his first gold bracelet along with $294,777, while Nguyen was denied his sixth bracelet and settled for $182,213.
WSOP 2012 from a Broad Perspective
So Phil Ivey may not have captured his ninth WSOP bracelet yet, but he certainly can’t be disappointed with the results thus far. Through 26 completed events, he’s managed to cash four times, make three final tables, and collect $451,495. With so many remaining events left, it’s highly likely that we’ll see the New Jersey native again. Furthermore, he’s currently in the driver’s seat for the WSOP Player of the Year award with 385.33 points – Andy Frankenberger is second with 372.16 points.
But even if he doesn’t muster up any more big-time finishes or win the POY award, 2012 has already been a huge success for Ivey. After shocking the poker world with his return to live tournaments in January, Ivey managed to finish 12th in the 2012 Aussie Millions Main Event ($102,947) and first in the $250,000 Aussie Millions High Roller ($2,058,948). One more impressive result came in the 2012 EPT Grand Final High Roller, where he finished ninth and cashed for $96,643.
Combining these cashes with his WSOP winnings, Phil has already collected $2,710,033 this year, which puts him at the top of the 2012 live tournament earnings list. And while it’s almost a given that the lucky Main Event winner will pass him, Ivey is enjoying a glorious return to the live poker circuit.