Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ivey Showing Up Down Under

Aussie MillionsThree days of play at the Aussie Millions Main Event have seen the starting field of 659 play down to 26, with Phil Ivey (currently in sixth) being the name that stands out most conspicuously among the remaining players.

Ivey has been on the first page of the leaderboard pretty much since the start of the $10,600 (AUD) Main Event. After the first three Day 1 flights, Ivey was in the top 10 overall out of the 305 players who made it to the second day of play. And he was second in chips after Day 2 with 75 players left.

Leading right now is Matt Turk with more than 2.6 million chips, about twice what second-place Tim O’Shea has. Ivey will have a little over 1.1 million when Day 4 begins a few hours from now. I believe they’ll be starting with Level 18 (1,000/5,000/10,000), with the average stack at about 760,000.

Ivey played in the $100,000 event at the Aussie Millions as well, bubbling the final table when Gus Hansen knocked him out. (That’s Ivey playing in the $100K below, as photographed by the PokerNews guys who are there covering several events from the series.) Hansen would go on to be the cash bubble boy by finishing fifth as only the top four spots paid in the 22-person event.

Ivey stayed away from the professional poker circuit for most of 2011, skipping the WSOP in dramatic fashion and stating on his website that as long as Full Tilt Poker’s many players weren’t able to cash out their funds, he didn’t feel as though he should play. At the time Ivey noted that he was “deeply disappointed and embarrassed that Full Tilt players have not been paid money they are owed,” adding “I do not believe it is fair that I compete when others cannot.”

He continued to sit out of events after the WSOP had completed, only surfacing at last in late November in Macau where he participated in the APPT Main Event while joining some of those big cash games there, too. And now he’s in Melbourne, suddenly the focus of poker world’s attention yet again.

Phil Ivey in the $100,000 Challenge at the 2012 Aussie MillionsWhile Ivey and Hansen -- a couple of Team Full Tilters -- played in that $100K event, most of the FTP crowd that participated in the $100K event at the Aussie Millions in 2011 weren’t there this time around. Exactly half of the 38 who played in 2011 were either members of Team Full Tilt or FTP red pros. This time around just Ivey, Hansen, Erik Seidel, and Tom Dwan were among those who played.

Recall also that $250,000 “Super High Roller” added at the last minute to the Aussie Millions schedule in 2011. Of the 20 who participated there, 11 were either Team Full Tilt members or red pros. It is safe to assume the turnout for that one will be smaller this year, too, when it happens this weekend.

Revelations since Black Friday have clued us all into the fact that besides having significant amounts of money seized by the Department of Justice, Full Tilt Poker additionally squandered a lot of funds in other ways, too, including (one presumes) for recompensing the site’s many sponsored players and thus -- directly or indirectly -- enabling them to play in high-stakes events such as the high roller ones at Melbourne last January.

As we all know, Full Tilt Poker players still have not been paid money they are owed. At the time Ivey made that statement, the site was still operating outside of the U.S., but went offline entirely about a month later when the Alderney Gambling Control Commission suspending its license to operate in late June.

Hopes were raised late in the year in response to news of that possible Groupe Bernard Tapie deal to purchase Full Tilt Poker, though nothing has come of that as yet. And yesterday Subject:Poker dropped another drama bomb (sans identifying sources) regarding Chris Ferguson’s various bank accounts and the efforts he and his lawyer, Ian Imrich, apparently have been taking to recover $14.3 million or so he believes he is owed by FTP.

Chris FergusonRemember how according to that September 2011 amendment to the civil complaint (discussed here) the DOJ alleged that Ferguson, Howard Lederer, Rafe Furst, Ray Bitar, and “the other approximately 19 owners of Tiltware LLC” had funneled $443,860,529.89 into various “FTP Insider Accounts” and other personal accounts? The amendment also noted how at the end of March 2011, FTP had only about $60 million on hand at a time when its players worldwide thought they had about $390 million sitting in FTP accounts.

I mentioned on Twitter yesterday how Ferguson’s lawyer having that name -- Imrich -- serves as kind of an uncanny-name-bookend to a guy named Moneymaker starting it all. In other words, when the story of online poker’s meteoric rise and staggering fall in the United States is finally told, it will begin with Moneymaker and end with Imrich.

All of which is to say, I can’t help but feel ambivalent about Ivey -- most certainly among those other “approximately 19 owners” mentioned in the amended complaint -- showing up and doing well at the Aussie Millions this week. His presence obviously adds interest to the story of the tournament, and if this deep run had happened at last year’s Aussie Millions, it would’ve been hard not to have been intrigued by yet another high-level performance by one of poker’s best.

But given what has happened over the last eight months -- and remembering what Ivey himself was saying about what he thought was the right course of action for himself back in late May -- makes it difficult to get too enthusiastic about it all this time around.

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Blogger Goondingy said...

Thanks for the awesome read!

1/26/2012 6:02 PM  

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