EPT10 Monaco: The Ivey effect... "Please, call me Phil"

Phil Ivey is the life and soul of his table. Okay, let's go back. Let's just say he's chatty this afternoon.

Ivey is not typically the one to get the conversation going. Or at least he wasn't when he played here last year. Back then he was embroiled in some minor disagreement about the definition of the word "win", with some Londoners. Perhaps he had other things on his mind (all while turned in a ninth place performance in the €25,000 High Roller event). This year though things are different.

Some players really are the centre of the world when a tournament starts. When Daniel Negreanu is in a good mood for instance, the entire poker room knows it. He addresses everyone at his table, but in doing so invites everyone else to listen. Ivey meanwhile does things a little differently.

His approach is more personal. He talks to everyone. But instead of publicly asking how to say the swear words in the native land of each player, Ivey addresses each like a good politician might, talking close up, very quietly, sharing a joke, taking them into his confidence and bringing then into his close circle of tournament friends.

One assumes it's all some ruse before he savagely strips them of their chips, chair and house. But that's beside the point. They seem to enjoy it. They probably get to call him "Phil."

But you get the impression that Ivey likes to keep his correspondence private, such as when he spoke to fellow super high roller Talal Shakerchi. Ivey seemed to plan this to coincide with a loud speaker announcement about the prize pool that drowned out polite conversation around the room. For Ivey this was like putting on Vivaldi's Concerto in C for trumpets to create a background din in case the room is bugged. He got his message through to Shakerchi and no one was any the wiser.


Phil Ivey getting to know his neighbour Marc Daubach

Marc Daubach, sitting between Ivey and Shakerchi, is himself a quality player, having lifted silverware in a UKIPT High Roller. But sitting as he was there were glimpses of nerves in the Belgian's face. He called a friend over from the rail and, with his back to Ivey, looked like a man plucking up the courage to ask for a picture. Instead he settled for an eye-witness.

But he would also be drawn into the Ivey circle with a word in the ear and a shared joke, just between the two of them of course, to go no further. An intoxicating feeling perhaps and at least good for a story for anyway: "The day I sat next to Phil Ivey. Actually the day I sat next to 'Fun' Phil Ivey. Actually I just call him Phil."

Ivey is close to the chip lead by the way.

All the hand-by-hand action, including chip counts, will be in the panel at the top of the main event page. We will have feature pieces below that.

Stephen Bartley is a PokerStars Blog reporter.