Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Ivey to Full Tilt Poker: The Writing Is On the Wall

Phil Ivey's Facebook page“So this is either the greatest statement of all time or the greatest hoax of all time.”

So tweeted John “JimmyLegs” Wray last night during the crazed back-and-forthing on Twitter following the appearance of a stunner of a statement on Phil Ivey’s Facebook page. During that brief, wild period when the statement’s validity was still unknown (Had Ivey’s Facebook account been hacked? And since when did Ivey post on Facebook?) we read and reread the message, kind of awkwardly delivered in several segments there on his “wall.”

Ivey said he was “deeply disappointed and embarrassed that Full Tilt players have not been paid money they are owed,” adding that he was further bothered by the fact that as a result some were unable to compete in this summer’s WSOP. He added that he was not going to play in this year’s WSOP, noting “I do not believe it is fair that I compete when others cannot.”

He went on to express dismay about harm to his reputation, blaming “the inactivity and indecision of others.” Then, stating that he was acting “on behalf of all poker players,” he announced that he was filing a lawsuit against Tiltware, Inc., the company that originally developed Full Tilt Poker’s software and which along with Pocket Kings Ltd. and the Kolyma Corporation apparently forms part of that byzantine corporate structure amid which FTP operates. (Incidentally, when Clonie Gowen sued Full Tilt Poker back in 2008, all three of these companies, plus other individuals, were listed in the suit.)

The message concluded “I sincerely hope this statement will ignite those capable of resolving the problems into immediate action,” adding a promise that “I will... 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.”

The Mind of IveyTalk about a bombshell. But was it legit? The statement appeared as though it could be. This was, in fact, Ivey’s “official” Facebook page. And his non-appearance in the $25,000 Heads-Up No-Limit Hold’em Championship (Event No. 2) that had gotten underway about three hours before made it seem as though it could well be real.

But no one knew for sure. Not yet. Some expressed doubts over Twitter, citing various reasons for it being a fake. I noted that the battle between the “Fake Ivey” and the “Real Ivey” was as intriguing as some of the heads-up matches I’d been following on PokerNews and the site. In response to JimmyLegs’ proclamation that it was either an awesome message or an equally awesome hoax, I agreed.

“Yes, a polarized range,” I said.

Soon, though, we learned that, indeed, the statement really had come from the eight-time WSOP bracelet winner, with the Entities over at Wicked Chops getting a confirmation from Ivey’s manager. Eventually the statement was pieced together to appear as a press release on

It’s a helluva play by Ivey, apparently decided upon very recently and without many others’ knowledge. Close friend Barry Greenstein obviously had no idea, having spent the bulk of his allowance to outbid everyone in that $25,000 WSOP Fantasy draft last week to have Ivey on his team. Daniel Negreanu, speaking on the QuadJacks show late last night, also noted that he and others had little idea Ivey was going to make such a move.

It’s easy to say after the fact, but the play kinda fits with Ivey’s image. In a way. “I’ve been told I’m intimidating,” he says in that Full Tilt Poker commercial, the one in which he cheekily claims he’s just sitting there, “playing the same game you are... well, kind of.”

When we step back and think about the “game” Full Tilt Poker has been playing, it’s obvious Ivey is approaching this sucker completely differently.

I’ve been told I’m intimidatingNot obvious what exactly Ivey is suing Tiltware for (or for how much?), although I assume all will come clear soon. And while it is unknown what effect Ivey’s announcement and lawsuit will ultimately have on the FTP payout situation, the great majority of reactions to his statement appear to be overwhelmingly positive. I think many are just glad to see someone -- especially a person as prominent and influential as Ivey -- standing up and recognizing something has gone very wrong at Full Tilt Poker.

I thought initially about what I’d said yesterday about it perhaps appearing “unseemly” for some of the Team Full Tilt pros to show up and play the WSOP as if nothing were amiss. I did think some of the key figures -- e.g., Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson, Ivey -- might not show for Event No. 2, and perhaps might lay low for a few days or longer while FTP tried to push toward some kind of resolution. Didn’t really dream, though, that it would play out quite like this.

But man, when was the last time the poker world went more than a few weeks without surprising the hell out of us? Again!

It will certainly be interesting to see what happens next. That lawsuit -- whatever exactly it concerns -- should prove immensely curious to many. And of course the WSOP itself now moves forward amid even further uncertainty, minus one of its greatest stars, and with many other long-time celebs now receiving a new kind of scrutiny. Will it now be even more “unseemly” for other Team Full Tilt players to continue to enter events?

As he often does at the tables to his opponents, Ivey has put a lot of people to a tough decision.

About three hours after Ivey’s announcement, David “Chino” Rheem sent what I considered a thought-provoking tweet, kind of summing up the weird start to this year’s WSOP. “Don’t know what 2 expect @WSOP this year,” said Rheem. “[I] feel like I’m part of something that isn’t genuine anymore w/o online q’s & @philivey. #aintdasame.”

I don’t know about the WSOP being more or less “genuine,” but I definitely agree with Rheem that it sure ain’t gonna be the same. That said, I couldn’t be more interested to see what will come next.

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Blogger RGC2005 said...

Genuine or not this year's WSOP will be the most heavily covered and watched series since Moneymaker won. The industry had its guts ripped out and lost the vast majority of its sponsorship funds. With a clean slate I hope the news sites actually bring us some decent unbiased coverage.

6/01/2011 12:30 PM  
Blogger OhCaptain said...

I really do think it would be fun for him to sign up for an event down at Binion's. The Binion's Classic is going on. He'd be playing the same game we are, well, kind of.

6/01/2011 5:12 PM  

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