EPT11 Grand Final: How I got a read off Phil Ivey


Phil Ivey: Can you read this man?

It is preposterous to think that there are reads to be had from Phil Ivey, and if there are then it's going to take someone better than me to find them. But Ivey's elimination from the €100,000 Super High Roller event here in Monaco happened at the exact point I was watching the world's best like a hawk. And, you know what, I think I saw something.

Ivey had about 400,000 when I wandered past his table, and noticed him staring menacingly at Thomas Muehloecker. The Austrian player was just about to look at his hole cards and Ivey was utterly captivated. It made me think that perhaps Ivey had a read on Muehloecker and that he had decided to watch him closely whenever he peeked at his cards. But after Muehloecker folded, action moved to Igor Kurganov, sitting in the cut off, and Ivey's gaze duly followed it along.

Kurganov (as has been noted in the live reporting panel at the top of the main Super High Roller page) took a couple of moments before flicking out a raise to 30,000 from a stack of about 1.4 million. Players between him and Ivey got out the way, and Ivey nearly immediately three-bet to 95,000.

Now, I don't know whether I'd have ever thought about this had I not have seen what happened next. If Kurganov had folded, I'd have thought nothing unusual about this hand. But Kurganov didn't fold: he shoved, covering Ivey, and Ivey snap-called, tabling aces.

Kurganov had pocket fives and hit one on the flop. He hit another on the turn for good measure, to leave Ivey drawing dead. Ivey took his bad beat well, got up and strolled away, to do whatever Phil Ivey does next. But even that wasn't what was interesting.

The thing that nagged longer than the time it took this hand to play out was the fact that I hadn't seen Ivey look at his own cards. It made me realise that he had already looked by the time I arrived, and before he started focusing so intently on Muehloecker. Ivey knew he had aces and so obviously was going to play this hand, but was that actually the reason he had been so bothered by the action ahead of him? Had he given away the strength of his hand by his visible, intimidating gaze?

I don't know. If he had, Kurganov certainly didn't notice, and it's fair to say that Kurganov can play a bit. But I've definitely seen Ivey not interested in playing a hand. He can often sit at the table, even with cards in front of him, and look like he's doing nothing more than preparing to fold. This time, however, he had been looking at Muelhocker so intently that it stopped me in my tracks and got me watching Ivey.

It's almost like the power of his gaze had tipped me off to the fact that something was amiss. I am not a poker player of any repute (check out my Hendon Mob page for proof of that), but I'm pretty sure I just got a read off Phil Ivey. Be afraid, world.

Follow all the action from the EPT Grand Final on the main EPT Grand Final page. Follow the Super High Roller or the France Poker Series. To get all the latest news, chip counts and payouts, don't forget to download the EPT app on either Android or IOS.