The Ivey Chronicles

by , Jun 1, 2011 | 2:37 pm

The biggest story to come out of day 1 of the WSOP, almost fitting given the cloud of Black Friday, was that a major player within Team Full Tilt would not be playing. What we didn’t realize was that the player in question was in Phil Ivey, and that he had some very choice words for his (former?) employer Full Tilt poker. Before getting too far into things, the statement itself is 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.

I think Wicked Chops said it best in their article on the subject: Holy shit. Not only was it not expected, but the strength of the words from someone that is in that category of “legally bound not to speak” adds extra weight to it. No doubt Ivey has, as @taopauly put it in his daily recap, “titanium balls.” That said, nothing escapes radar without some further reflection and critiquing, so here goes:

Point 1: How the word got out

Word of the statement first got out on twitter after Phil Ivey’s public page had a series of status updates from the man himself. At first, it seemed like it was a fake account, but even a quick glance proved that this was Phil Ivey’s actual page (his twitter account linked it), so the only possible alternative was that it was hacked. That question was soon answered when Wicked Chops initially confirmed the statement, followed promptly by independent confirmations from Bluff and Pokernews (amongst others certainly). This led to the simple question, why do it as facebook status updates? Did Ivey’s PR person go to the same clown college as FTP’s and AP’s? In short, no, I don’t think so. The initial statement over facebook was, in reality, the fastest chance for it to get out quickly and publicly. Not only that, but its going to reach the fans first.

Some in the media gave Ivey’s team flak for going through unorthodox channels to get this info out, but it was really more well thought of than people realize. OK, I will grant they should have used a note and not a status update, but the status updates could have been considered a better way for people to view it without having to click through to the note. Not only that, but they definitely planned it, if you read the status updates from top to bottom its the actual statement, which means they posted the last paragraph first, so it was clearly intentional. I would have to disagree with my colleagues superiors those that took issue with this statement, it simply worked. It may or may not have been “Phil Ivey”-esque, but I really think this was meant to get out to his fans first, and the press second. There was an eventual press release on his site that cleared up the ordering of the updates, but I almost think that was reactionary to the media outcry for something “official”, not necessarily a planned event. (For instance, as of 2:30PM PT, the word immediate is spelled “immediaye”)

Point 2: The Lawsuit

I think  the media has learned, if nothing else than in the wake of the “Full Tilt Account Unfrozen…er…not really” saga, that we need more than a pretty statement from a news site or a “source” to confirm a story. In the wake of Ivey’s initial statement, there has been a continuous lookout for the lawsuit filed either in federal or Nevada court, and can be found here (credit goes to Oskar Garcia from AP for the find). While others can provide a more detailed legal analysis, there are a few questions that need to be answered right away:

  • What is Tiltware being sued for? – A whole host of things, ranging from branch of contract to “tortious interference with prospective economic advantage”. Essentially, Ivey is saying that Full Tilt abused their relationship with Phil Ivey by damaging his reputation. This reputation was damaged when it was discovered that Full Tilt was engaging in illegal practices within the United States.
  • What damages is Ivey seeking and how does this help get money back to the players? – In the end, Ivey is seeking injunctive relief, declaratory relief, and damages.Here’s the kicker, Ivey values all this at over $150 million. This could be an educated guess as to how much money is owed to US players, but while its reasonable to assume this money is intended for the player pool, at first glance the lawsuit does not suggest this.
  • What jurisdiction will the suit be filed in?  – The suit was filed in Clark County District Court, so its just at the state level for now.

More details are being unearthed as the document is being analyzed, but that is the core of the complaint as a far as a first glance could tell. Thanks to Black Friday and last Monday, the media has gotten very good at asking for court documents. The filing occurred at 8:30 AM PT today, so this is in line with Ivey announcing that he had filed in the press release last night.

Point 3: What’s in it for him?

Yea, definitely going there. Nobody does this for purely altruistic reasons, certainly not Phil Ivey, so what does he stand to gain? Admittedly, there is an angle that helps him. We don’t actually know how much a lawsuit will speed up the process, but there is a pretty good idea that if cashouts occur with ANY amount of speed it might look like Ivey had something to do with it. A fair assumption? Don’t know, and might never know. One of the PPA’s reps took things one step further, and arguably that didn’t help the PPA’s position with the players very much. (Not getting into his statements about Quadjacks being the Fox News of Poker, that is it’s own Pandora’s Box.) One thing is for certain, Phil Ivey is trying to rebuild a reputation damaged by Full Tilt’s inability to pay.

Secondly, and this is not an opinion that I’m alone on, but Ivey might simply not want to deal with the heckling associated with wearing a Full Tilt patch. The John Juanda/James Bord confrontation from yesterday’s $25k HU match was one such instance, and I don’t know if anyone has attached Juanda to the inner-workings of FTP. Phil Ivey just simply might not want to deal with the continued criticism he would face simply from showing up with a patch. And its not like he can just take off the patch and play. If he is indeed suing Tiltware, the last thing he wants to deal with is a countersuit that he’s breaching contract by playing events without the patch. So when there is a damned if you do/damned if you don’t situation, you simply don’t go. For certain players not being paid is a direct reason Ivey’s not playing, but its not as altruistic as he makes it sound.

In short, Ivey is looking out for himself. He probably sees the writing on the wall and is simply trying to get ahead in the game. One of the big unanswered questions is what that writing on the wall is. Is Full Tilt not going to be in a position to pay for months? Can they pay now and won’t? We obviously can only guess at this point, and hope it becomes clearer later. Phil Ivey is, by all accounts, an honorable person, so all that said I refuse to think he doesn’t believe what he his publicist wrote in that press release.


One thing that hasn’t been addressed is “why now?” Simply, at this time, there isn’t much to tell. There have been hints that this isn’t Ivey’s first brush against Full Tilt leadership but without actual evidence they are just rumors. As the story pieces itself together we are bound to find out more. Being the first Team Full Tilt pro to truly speak out against their own company takes an unbelievable amount of stones and we should definitely applaud him for doing so. But there is still more work to be done, and I don’t want to get bluffed by the world’s best poker player here. Let’s see where things go before completely buying into Ivey being our champion.

11 Comments to “The Ivey Chronicles”

  1. change100

    “its not like he can just take off the patch and play”

    Plenty of FTP red pros and Team Full Tilt members are not wearing patches. Erik Seidel didn’t wear one in the $25k, neither did Tom Dwan. 

  2. change100

    “its not like he can just take off the patch and play”

    Plenty of FTP red pros and Team Full Tilt members are not wearing patches. Erik Seidel didn’t wear one in the $25k, neither did Tom Dwan. 

  3. change100

    “its not like he can just take off the patch and play”

    Plenty of FTP red pros and Team Full Tilt members are not wearing patches. Erik Seidel didn’t wear one in the $25k, neither did Tom Dwan. 

  4. Jake1987

    Yes, but they aren’t planning on suing Full Tilt. And for the bigger names, I wouldn’t be surprised if they got prior approval from management that it was OK to go patchless.

  5. Jake1987

    Yes, but they aren’t planning on suing Full Tilt. And for the bigger names, I wouldn’t be surprised if they got prior approval from management that it was OK to go patchless.

  6. Mark Gahagan

    Yes, this is true, but I’m suggesting that he doesn’t want to even give Tiltware the chance to counter-sue, even if its without merit, because it would complicate matters.

  7. Dan Michalski

    I don’t think Tiltware can countersue because that would require them
    to give up more information than they’ve ever wanted to give up before
    on their own operations.

  8. Mark Gahagan

    Who said they had to actually give up anything, all they have to do is delay.

  9. Dan Michalski

    You gotta wonder … with Ivey dropping, will it be like the fall of the Eastern Bloc, with one pro after the next jumping off a sinking ship?

  10. Poker Kentucky

    Ivey most definitely has issues with the FTP powers that be. Am I wrong in assuming that most of the major players in FTP are, if not friends, at least very close business associates? This lawsuit and now public squabble to me sounds like the first visible crack in the foundation of their partnerships.

  11. Anonymous

    That is exactly the press release I would issue if:

    — my individual name was attached to a poker site; and
    — the poker site had been hit by the feds; and
    — the government had only gone after the site itself to this point; but
    — someone tipped me off that the government was close to grabbing the individuals as well.

    When you get to the courtroom and it’s Us vs. Them, you need to be on team Us.