EPT11 Grand Final: Phil Ivey is here, early, and ready to play

Whenever Phil Ivey's name appears on a list of tournament attendees, two thoughts flash through reporters' minds. The first is: "Excellent. Our traffic is going to go through the roof." The second is: "Yeah, but will he actually show up?"

Ivey's name has duly appeared on the list of players at the €100,000 Super High Roller event at the EPT Grand Final, and before allowing the first of those thoughts to germinate and then spread like, well, ivy, it was smart to get confirmation on the second point.

But within moments of arriving to the conference facility at the Monte Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort this morning, that confirmation duly appeared. Not only was Ivey in the house, he was early.

The man many people consider to be the greatest poker player in the world had shown he was less than world class in one particular department: reading the tournament schedule. Ivey had showed up at noon for a tournament that started at 12.30pm and was therefore pacing around the lobby anxiously killing time, looking for all the world like a first time qualifier unsure of protocol at the start of the day.

Our man today is in double denim: a light blue denim shirt and darker blue denim jeans. He has white headphones. Other than that, he's Phil Ivey.


Phil Ivey, double denim

Gradually, of course, other players arrived and carried Ivey among them into the tournament room and into the roped-off section allocated for the Super High Rollers. Ivey launched directly into a conversation with Philipp Gruissem, which finished with the line: "Why don't they just throw me in jail?" (I have no idea what Ivey-esque turns the conversation took to lead to that point.)

He then picked his seat card and discovered he would be sitting alongside Paul Newey, Martin Kabrhel and Steve O'Dwyer, among others. "Hello sir," he said to Newey.

On the stroke of 12.30pm, the first cards were dealt and Ivey, in the cut off, wanted to play straight away. From a starting stack of 250,000, and with level one blinds at 500-1,000 (100 ante), Ivey opened to 2,600.

O'Dwyer, who has done rather well playing poker in this room, called from the big blind, and those two shared the first flop of the tournament. It came J♣7♣8♦.

Ivey was up for it. After O'Dwyer checked, Ivey bet 3,500. O'Dwyer called. The 8♣ came on the turn and O'Dwyer checked. Ivey bet 7,000. O'Dwyer called. The Q♦ came on the river and O'Dwyer checked for a third time. Ivey, whose 30 minutes pacing the lobby had got him all fired up, picked up four blue chips, worth 5,000 apiece, and continued the aggression. O'Dwyer folded.

Phil Ivey is here and Phil Ivey is ready to play.

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.

Howard Swains
@howardswains in European Poker Tour