Phil Ivey The Tiger Woods of Poker?

Let us usher in the Phil Ivey is the Tiger Woods of poker stories...

Let us usher in the Phil Ivey is the Tiger Woods of poker stories...

Phil Ivey has made the 2009 WSOP November NineTM. And now, expect the mass media to immediately jump on the “Phil Ivey is the Tiger Woods of PokerTM” bandwagon.

In fact, if we were Seth Palansky and the WSOP crew (cough cough), we’d be pushing this story out there as the preeminent theme of the final table.

Next to Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth, Ivey is arguably the most marketable name in the game. If ESPN actually hypes the N9 players this year, Ivey will galvanize the attention and be the face of poker for the next four months. It’s a given. Lock it in.

And to make Ivey a story that relates to the masses, you will be inundated with the Ivey-Woods comparisons. They’ll say that Ivey has unparalleled talent in the game, like Woods. Ivey’s track record is unmatched, like Woods. And ratings will spike for the November Nine just like when Tiger Woods is in contention in the Masters on Sunday.

But is the Ivey-Woods comparison fair? Possibly. Ask any top pro and they will say that Ivey is the most feared and talented player in the game. Nobody has had the success of playing online, live cash, and live tournaments as Ivey. With seven WSOP bracelets (although none in no limit hold’em), Ivey is easily on pace to surpass Phil Hellmuth’s record total. And Ivey only needs a top 4 finish in the Main Event now to become the highest grossing tournament player of all-time.

The major difference between the two is that while Woods has actively cultivated himself as a brand, Ivey could care less. While he likely won’t turn down appearances on Leno like Peter Eastgate did last year, Ivey isn’t the type of guy who would greatly look forward to it either (like a Negreanu or Hellmuth).

Whether the comparisons are fair or not, the one thing that is certain is poker is much better off today that its most talented player has finally made the final table of its most prestigious event.


26 Responses

  1. Bill Cosby

    July 16, 2009 4:57 am, Reply

    Phil has always rolled his eyes at the comparison, and I’m sure he’ll continue to do so.
    While the “most feared and talented player in the game” comparison definitely has merit and applies to the comparison, the only real reason the media is calling him the Tiger Woods Of Poker is because he also happens to be a black man. Which is the real reason Phil rolls his eyes at this whole scenario. It’s as if he’s saying to himself “Really? Tiger Woods huh??That’s the best you guys can do??? That’s pretty original.”
    I’m sure he admires Woods and is a huge fan, but realizes it’s an unfair assessment from desperate media-types to attach some sort of moniker to a star player. Is being “Phil Ivey” not good enough?
    If Phil was a white man, do you think they’d call him “The Jack Nicklaus Of Poker?”

  2. Chinaman

    July 16, 2009 6:35 am, Reply

    I love when comparisons are thrown around based on skin color.

    Phil Ivey is black, he must be Tiger Woods. Hurrrr.

    Why wouldn’t the Tiger Woods of poker be someone like Phil Hellmuth, someone who had huge success early on (main event title at 24) and continued having success to the point that if he doesn’t do well in a WSOP, that itself becomes a talking point.

    And before you are quick to dismiss by saying something like, “Hellmuth is a whiny little bitch,” don’t forget the kind of whinge Tiger has exuded throughout his years on the tour. Crying because people are taking pictures, getting his caddy to fight spectators. More of a ‘golf brat’ than most.

  3. Herman

    July 16, 2009 6:41 am, Reply

    I don’t think he’s quite at the “Tiger Woods” level. Yes, he’s great and he’s one of the best in the world but he’s THE best, in my opinion. Before he joins the N9, he’s going head to head with Hellmouth and the other greats in poker at the sports legends challenge, so it’ll be interesting to see how he does against everyone else before the WSOP wraps. I wonder if it’ll give us a taste of what he’ll do in November.

  4. sorry hage

    July 16, 2009 7:24 am, Reply

    it would be nice if this Ivey guy could score a sweet deal with one of the big online poker sites.

  5. Wicked Chops Entity

    July 16, 2009 10:06 am, Reply

    Chinaman, you brought race into this, not us.

    The comparison is by taking two people who are prodigies and continued as the unquestioned best at their professions. Guess we could’ve used Roger Federer but he hasn’t had the same mass impact as Woods.

    If we’re trying to make a mass media comparison, then why would we use Hellmuth, another poker player?

  6. ShalAl

    July 16, 2009 10:29 am, Reply

    Do people make the comparison between Phil Ivey and Tiger Woods partially because they’re both black? Of course they do, and it’s fair imo. On top of their domination in their respective games, both black men have succeeded in what was previously considered a predominantly white man’s game.

    As for Hellmuth or anyone else being considered the Tiger Woods of poker, that doesn’t make sense regardless of race. It isn’t just the number of “majors” won that makes comparing a poker player to Tiger Woods fair, it’s how they’re feared in the game…it’s how they’re respected by their peers….it’s how when he is behind in chips and everyone feels like it’s inevitable he’ll come from behind to win because he’s that much better than everyone else…

  7. hecubus

    July 16, 2009 11:16 am, Reply

    The same thing happens in all sports… anytime a white wide receive comes up in the NFL draft, they always say “his playing style reminds me of a young Ed Caffrey or Wayne Chrebet!”

  8. DJ Sly Bri

    July 16, 2009 11:46 am, Reply

    Eastgate had a chance to appear on Leno? Why would anyone want to watch him? I like the guy, but c’mon.

  9. Matthew

    July 16, 2009 2:05 pm, Reply

    Finally we get a decent poker pro at the final table. I remember when Phil Ivey came close to making the table in 2003 and Chris Moneymaker made a runner full house, higher than Phil’s to bust him out in 10th as the bubble boy.

    How about some other names for him, Like…

    The Tiger Woods of Poker? The Muhamed Ali of Poker? Micheal Jordan of Poker? Carl Lewis of Poker? The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and Poker? Blade (Day Walker) of Poker?

    Nahh lets just call him Phil Ivey!

  10. The Amateur

    July 16, 2009 8:17 pm, Reply

    He is the Phil Ivey from Full Tilt and thats about it. Why do people always have to make comparisons to others.

    Phil is going to have a hard time dealing with all the publicity anyway. Everyone thinks its because he is humble, but he showed his true colors at the WSOP when he told ESPN to take a hike and find another player to go to the featured table.

    Lets see his hole cards when ESPN shows the tapes leading up to the NOV 9 I think this is why Phil did not want ESPN around, he needs to chip up and I give him credit for his ability to read players.

    I am pulling for Ivey just to let all of you know. It will be good for poker

  11. BJ Nemeth

    July 18, 2009 10:12 am, Reply

    According to the Hendon Mob’s data, Phil Ivey is just $94,098 behind Jamie Gold on the all-time live tournament earnings list:

    That already includes ninth-place money from the WSOP Main Event, which everyone in the November Nine was paid before leaving the Rio. So if Phil Ivey finishes in ninth place, he won’t receive any additional money. If he finishes in eighth place, he’ll receive $36,626 + interest. (Not enough, unless he has some tourney scores before then.)

    If Phil Ivey finishes in *seventh* place, he’ll receive an additional $140,400 + interest, and he will become the all-time live tournament money winner. (Unless by some cruel twist of fate, Jamie Gold adds to his total before November.)

    • BJ Nemeth

      July 20, 2009 4:21 pm, Reply

      Ah yes, the much-larger-than-this debate over which earnings to count and which ones to discount. I think yours is a fair line, so I’ll leave it at that.

      If I had to pick a clear line as to whether or not to count a tournament toward career stats, I’d say that invitationals and closed events (Seniors-only & Ladies-only) don’t count. That immediately rules out all made-for-TV poker tournaments like Poker After Dark, Poker Superstars, NBC Heads-Up, and the WPT Celebrity Invitational.

      By my calculations, invitational tourneys add about $1 million to Ivey’s career stats on the Hendon Mob (primarily $400K from Poker Superstars, and $600K from a 2005 Full Tilt Invitational in Monte Carlo). Of course, that brings us right back to your claim that Phil Ivey needs to finish fourth or higher to become the all-time live tournament money winner — and I’ll amend my earlier comment and back you up on that.

  12. Brian Heptinstall

    July 22, 2009 2:13 am, Reply

    The funny thing about all of these posts is that in 2 weeks time, it will all be forgotten. Ivey = Woods….forgotten. Good/bad/meh/…forgotten. All time winnings…ditto. So, before you jump on anyone for bringing these points to the forefront, remember that you’ll lose interest and not think one more time about it until the N9 kicks back up. Kudos to the guys that are trying to keep the N9 in the spotlight!

    …..he’s no Tiger! He’s just catching up to his own name.

  13. Chinaman

    July 22, 2009 11:04 am, Reply

    Hey, remember when I said last week that Hellmuth was more like Tiger than Ivey is?

    Looks like my point is more valid now, than ever. After sucking dong and getting cut from the masters, several publications wrote about Tiger’s whiny, selfish and poor attitude toward the game and the other players.

    Who does that sound like?

    • billthedonk

      July 23, 2009 12:54 pm, Reply

      Tiger missed the cut at the OPEN CHAMPIONSHIP(formerly the British Open) not the Masters! Anyways every player at every level in every sport gets frustrated when things don’t go there way. Some are better at controlling there emotions and playing it off like nothing is wrong, but they all feel it. Ivey showed some of this when his nut flush was beatn by the fullhouse of the irish guy who stood up and told him he didn’t have the nuts and pocket kings could have beat him. With that the sports comparisons will always be there and there will always be debate and there will always be people on both sides of the debate. Tiger Woods is Tiger Woods and Phil Ivey is Phil Ivey that alone is enough!

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