Phil Ivey Interview @ 2012 WSOP
November 18, 2012 Leave a Comment
Phil Ivey defies description, but we’ll try. He’s been called….“The Tiger Woods of Poker.” “The World’s Greatest Poker Player.” “A Modern-Day Stu Ungar – Without the Baggage.” “Poker’s Most Secretive and Mysterious Figure.”
Nolan Dalla: Phil, this seems like a bad time to do your first interview with us in three years. You just busted out of a $10,000 buy-in tournament [the $10,000 Six-Handed No-Limit Hold'em Championship]. How do you feel when you bust out? What goes through your mind?
Phil Ivey: What goes through my mind? Well, I think about the way I played. I think about all of the hands I played throughout the tournament in terms of what I could have played differently. And, you know, it takes about 10-15 minutes to recover, depending on the size of the tournament and how I’m playing and how I’m feeling.
Dalla: I’d like to discuss the word you just used, which is recover. Do you mean recover in terms of disappointment or in terms of putting things in context of ‘I should have played differently’?
Ivey: Recover in terms of disappointment. Every tournament I enter, I’m trying to win. So, when I get knocked out it’s definitely a disappointing feeling.
Dalla: If you’re knocked out of a $1,500 or $2,500 buy-in tournament, that’s like $50 to most people. I mean, it’s not the money. So, why are you disappointed, since there’s just going to be another tournament held the next day?
Ivey: Because I want to win every tournament I enter. That’s the bottom line. I mean, when I sit down I’m trying to win and when I don’t I’m disappointed. It’s just the way I am.
Dalla: Do you ever knock yourself in the head in a sense, saying to yourself “I shouldn’t have done this or that,” or “I played that hand completely wrong?” Everybody talks about you’re the best player in the world, but even the best player in the world probably still makes mistakes — correct?
Ivey: Yes, I make a lot of mistakes.
Dalla: Really? A lot of mistakes?
Ivey: Well, there are hands that come up that you could have bet different amounts. You could have re-raised where you didn’t. You could have checked where you should have bet. There are tons of mistakes every session, even for me. What separates me from a lot of the other players is that I recognize the mistakes when I make them. A lot of the other players don’t recognize when they make mistakes and I think that’s important for improving your game.
Dalla: What about the other very good players? You’re playing at a level that’s even above them. What about that extra step? Do you work extra hard? There are a lot of great players in this game, but you somehow manage to stay above them. What are you doing differently?
Ivey: Sure, I mean there’s times that I’m not thinking about poker, like when I’m playing golf, playing sports, watching movies or spending time with family and friends, there’s those times. But most of the time I am thinking about poker — different ways to play hands, people’s expressions when I’m in pots against them, things like that.
Ivey: To win. I want to win a tournament, multiple tournaments. But you gotta’ win the first one to win multiple ones. So, I’m just looking to play well and am happy to be back playing again.
Ivey: It was very tough missing playing the World Series of Poker. I love playing these tournaments and I missed it.
Ivey: Yeah, I couldn’t wait for the following year. I’m happy to be back playing this year.
Ivey: Yeah, I realize it. I don’t know if it’s ever been done before, but it’s something I’m proud of. I would have liked to have won. It would have been nicer to win five events in two weeks, but it didn’t fall that way.
Ivey: No, I don’t think it helped or hurt it. I’ve been playing poker my whole life around the clock. I would say, if anything, it hurt it a little bit. Because when you’re playing poker, you have to be in stroke, especially when you’re playing against really good players. So, when you first come back and you play against players that have been practicing over the last year and have been playing all the time, you have to make some adjustments, figure out what they’re thinking, what they’re doing. Constantly, the game of poker is changing. Players are constantly adjusting and playing better and better so you have to keep up with the curve.
Ivey: It’s all about winning.
Ivey: No, I don’t get any satisfaction from second place at all.
Ivey: There were a ton of players that impressed me.
Ivey: No, because they don’t need to know that they impressed me.
Ivey: I’m watching the Big One, because I just got eliminated yesterday, and it’s on TV. It’s kind of affecting how I’m playing too. I’m seeing the guys at the final table, and I’m like ‘Man I really wish I was there.’ It’s kind of like a sick feeling watching these guys play because I’m just wishing so badly that I was there playing. I would say overall I don’t really follow poker on my downtime because there’s a lot of other things I’d rather be doing.
Ivey: Yeah once in a while, it’s nice to see the old shows and watch the young and upcoming players and stuff like that. I pay attention.
Ivey: We all change. As you get older, you mature, things change in your life, and you change as a person, but I still love to play poker. I mean I wish this World Series of Poker was going every day, 365 days a year, I’d play every day. I love it. I’m happy to be a part of it.
Ivey: I always root for Jennifer Harman. She’s one of my favorite poker players. Barry Greenstein. Patrik Antonius. So you know, I have my favorite poker players too.
Ivey: I’d rather see them win one.
Ivey: Yes I was aware of that. I know he was getting ready to take the lead for the most bracelets won, which is a big deal. I congratulated him. I was really impressed. He’s been playing very well this year. It just really made it tougher to come in second at that event. Now, I have four more bracelets to go to catch him.
Ivey: Yes, I believe I can catch him.
Ivey: If the World Series of Poker is still here, and I’m still alive, I think I will have 30 bracelets. That’s what I believe.
Ivey: I’d rather be one of the November Nine — because it’s a Main Event. It’s the biggest event in poker.
Ivey: It’s amazing. When I started playing poker, I started playing in pizzerias and people’s houses. Then all of a sudden you put it on TV and now people recognize me on the street. I’m just appreciative of any fan that I have. When I get stopped, I try to be friendly and giving of my time to meet fans. It’s nice to have fans.
Ivey: It may be like that at the World Series of Poker, but on a given day in the street it is not like that, you know what I mean?