WSOP Main Event: Sitting with Phil Ivey

l to r: Steve Vassillaros, Phil Ivey, Ye Xugang

Steve Vassillaros made his way to Table 112 6s, looked at the seat cushion, and tried to get comfortable prior to the start of the Main Event. Ye Xugang, like Steve a fellow PokerStars qualifier, snuck into his seat in the 8s, his game face on. Players were milling around and walking behind the two of them, as their table was on the far end of the Amazon Room near a player walkway. Other players filtered in and took their seat, but it became apparent who would be sitting between these two: Phil Ivey.

Ivey is taller in person, but his game is beyond that. If players voted for who they wouldn't want to have at their table to start their first Main Event, it would be the gentleman between these two players.

Steve is from Austin, and we talked a bit about how the first hours of his play went. I dutifully noted how he'd doubled up with aces, lost chips when he flopped a set of jacks only to see four cards to the straight on the board. I then asked him what he thought when his new neighbor Ivey sat in the 7s. "I thought Oh crap," said Steve. Ye Xugang qualified after a $16 investement on PokerStars. He had less to say as he looked down at Ivey who was sitting waiting for play to resume. "He plays good," said Ye. Quite possibly the understatement of the World Series.

Chris "spankme" Jenkins pulled an accidental Hellmuth. Chris arrived at the table ninety minutes late. When I asked him what he thought of the guy in the 7s, he said "I was so out of it, I didn't realize who was sitting down there for probably ten or fifteen minutes." Chris got a bit more focused in his 3s after figuring out who was at the end of the table.

Evan Oxfeld started at Table 9. "I liked my table," he told me, and he had a good gameplan until his table broke and he got the card for Table 112 8s. When I asked him what he thought when saw the player two to his right, he just pulled his cap over his head a little more snuggly. By 9:00PM, Steve had been knocked out, but the other PokerStars qualifiers were still sitting tight, waiting for a chance to accumulate chips while Ivey's stack continued to grow.
Brad Willis
@BradWillis in World Series of Poker