Ivey’s divided loyalty + other news

by , Dec 2, 2014 | 1:50 pm


Image by World Poker Tour 

Phil Ivey is not noted for his public endorsements. In fact he’s not noted for doing much in the way of publicity, period. So when the ten-time WSOP bracelet winner took to Twitter recently to offer his endorsement to an online gaming site it inevitably turned heads.

Ivey took time out this November to tell his Twitter followers to “check out” the newly launched PalaCasino.com. But what makes the development all the more interesting is the back story – or back stories – that play into this seemingly low key moment in the public spotlight.

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First of all, Ivey’s ongoing legal issues are, inevitably casting their shadow over events. Ivey – along with his colleague Cheng Yin Sun is still in the process of trying to establish the legality of winnings derived from edge counting. Specifically, he is in dispute with the Borgata Casino who claim – in effect – that Ivey was cheating when he took them for $9.6 million playing Baccarat last year. That move follows on from a case in London, England where Crockford’s Casino refused to pay him winnings totalling $11.8 million on the same basis.

What makes these issues relevant is that that Borgata are the bricks and mortar guarantors for PalaCasino. In order to meet the requirements for its iGaming licence Pala recently formalised a partnership with the Borgata Casino and Hotel. New Jersey regulations require that iGaming operators affiliate with an Atlantic City-based brick and mortar casino.

That means that, in effect, Ivey is recommending grinders try out a service that is underwritten by the people who are currently suing him. That is presumably not something that pleases him greatly. However, it turns out that Ivey had signed a promotional deal with Pala back in 2013, before the Borgata deal was agreed.

That leaves Ivey in the sort of quandary that a man of his calculating mind-set might ordinarily relish. His instincts would surely be to leave the PalaCasino project to go its own way and to have nothing more to do with them. But on the back of all his legal troubles and the substantial financial and reputational hits he is taking right now, it seems unlikely that Ivey wants to put himself into any sort of further contractual or legal hot water by walking out on a contractual agreement.

For a man who is used to holding all the chips, it is presumably not a situation that Ivey particularly relishes right now. The man who is increasingly being referred to as “Phil Polarizing Ivey” for the way his behaviour has divided opinion in the gaming world continues to rack up the wins however. He was the fourth highest winner online week ending November 2st with a win of $387,000.

Mention of Ivey’s name quickly brings us back to where we started. His polarising predicament is one that has already accounted for more ink than any number of Gemaco playing cards. On that basis, and in the interest of offering an entirely balanced view on Ivey’s legal claims, an excellent article by Maurice VerStandig** published in April offers a detailed summary of the Borgata – Ivey case. It may not change your point of view on the current situation, but it does deal in facts rather than hearsay, and it does throw up some highly provocative suggestions.

Elsewhere, UK-based provider 32Red have joined the ranks of those providing branded fast-fold poker derivatives. Their “Blaze of Glory” offering is worth attending to for its 30% rakeback deal and its weekly €500 giveaways. 32Red’s overall online marketing thrust is notably aggressive currently and away from poker, their casino site is well worth attending to in its own right. For example they are currently also offering an introductory $1,000 welcome bonus. Of course

Charity Fundraising

In a more cheerful development the World Poker Tour Foundation staged an ‘All in for Kids’ event in collaboration with the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The event, which took place in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in New York raised a quite staggering $910,000 for food allergy research at the hospital.

Hosted for the seventh time by the legendary Phil Hellmuth, whose father took a seat at the final table, the event brought together familiar poker faces along with a host of business and private sponsors and celebrities from the worlds of showbiz, sport and – of course poker. Vanessa Selbst and Andy Frankenberger were amongst the attendees as were WPT commentators Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten. Over the time it has been running All in for Kids has raised almost $5 million for good causes.

For the record here is the final table

  1. Dan Shak – Hedge fund manager / poker pro
  2. George Papadopoulos – Fee only planner, WSJ panel expert, CPA/FP
  3. Phil Hellmuth Sr. – Father of event emcee, Phil Hellmuth Jr.
  4. James Im – Applied physics professor at Columbia
  5. Jason Mudrick – Hedge fund manager
  6. Olig Nodelman – Financier
  7. JD Williams – Actor on HBO’s Ozand The Wire
  8. Max Mandinach – VP at Boost Payment Solutions
  9. Jamie Kerstetter – Team partypoker pro
  10. Justin Lepone – Partner at Greenlight Capital

** The Maurice VerStandig article detailing Phil Ivey’s legal cases is available here.

One Comment to “Ivey’s divided loyalty + other news”

  1. BP

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