Inside the Mind of Phil Ivey: Hands To the Final Table of the WSOP

Mitchell CogertContributor IFebruary 10, 2010

LAS VEGAS - JULY 29:  Poker player Phil Ivey competes on the second day of the first round of the World Series of Poker no-limit Texas Hold 'em main event at the Rio Hotel & Casino July 29, 2006 in Las Vegas, Nevada. More than 8,600 players have registered to play in the main event. The final nine players will compete for the top prize of more than USD 11.7 million on the final table which begins August 10.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Phil Ivey-Not Every Hand Revealed

Let's see how Phil Ivey got to the final table of the 2009 WSOP Main Event. This is information from hands reported by The event started with 6,494 players. The winner will take home over $8.5 million.


Day 1D. July 7, 2009

The first obstacle. Phil entered on the last day of the event. He got in, unlike 500+ other players who were left out and forced to find an outlet for $10,000 in that sleepy city of Las Vegas.

By math, $5+ million in cash was standing in line outside the cage. By rumor, strippers had their best night of WSOP action.

Level 1 Hour 1.
Blinds: 50-100

Hand: Ivey builds his stack.
Flop 10h-6s-3s. Ivey bets 300 and is called by his lone opponent.
Turn Ks. Ivey bets 600. His opponent mucks.
Ivey: 31,000.
(My Comment: Your basic continuation bet on the flop by Ivey takes down the pot.)

Hand: The river helps...
Board: As-6c-9d-4c-6h. First player checks, and second player bets 1,250. Ivey raises to 4,000. First player folds, but second player calls. Ivey shows Kd-6d, making trips on the river.

Level 3
Blinds: 150-300

Hand: Gotta know when to fold 'em...
Turn: Ad-8s-8d-Kh. Player bets 1,000, Ivey and another player calls.
River: 9s. Player bets 6,000, Ivey calls, but the last player raises to 16,000. Both Ivey and the first player fold. The raiser shows Ah-8h for a full house.
(My Comment: It's nice when you flop a full house. An easy fold with the river raise and two opponents.)

Hand: ...and to hold 'em.
Flop: Ad-Jd-3h. Pot has 2,850. Ivey bets 1,700 and only gets one caller.
Turn: 2d. Both players check.
River: 9d. Both players check. Ivey shows Ac-Kh to win pot.
Ivey at 58,000.
(My Comment: Excellent learning here. Even though, Ivey has top pair, top kicker he checks the turn. It's not because he thinks his opponent has a better hand. It's to control the pot size and possibly win more on the river if a scare card does not hit. A scare card did hit, though, and he had to check.)

Level 4
Blinds: 150-300 with a 25 ante

Hand: He's got him dominated.
Ivey calls an all-in bet of 8,825. Ivey show Ah-Qc. Opponent Ac-Jd.
Board: 8d-6s-3c-Ks-9d. Ivey wins pot.
Ivey at 82,000.
(My Comment: An easy call. A-Q and only risking a small percentage of his chip stack.)

Level 5
Blinds: 200-400 with a 50 ante

Hand: A semi-bluff on a draw?
Flop: As-6d-3s. Dutch Boyd bets 1,500 from the big blind. Ivey raises to 4,500. Boyd calls.
Turn: 4s. Both players check.
River: 8s. Both players check. Boyd shows 6h-3c for two pair. Ivey mucks.
Ivey at 105,000.
(My Comment: Difficult to know what is going on here. Maybe Ivey is playing his aggressive opponent with that flop raise. Maybe it's a semi-bluff on the flop. Not sure.)

End of day 1D: Ivey at 105,000. Leader at 340,000. Players left: 3,572


Day 2B: July 8, 2009

Level 6
Blinds: 250-500 with a 50 ante

Hand: They're just pocket Jacks...oh, it's Ivey.
Pre-flop a player limps, Erick Lindgren raises to 2,500 from late position and is called by Ivey in the big blind as well as the limper.
Flop: 9c-8d-4d. Ivey bets out for 6,000. The limper folds but Lindgren moves all-in, for only 17,500. Ivey calls and shows Jd-Jc. Lindgren shows Qh-Qd.
Turn: 7c.
River: Jh. Ouch!
(My Comment: You gotta get lucky to win. Could you fold an overpair here?)

Level 7
Blinds: 300-600 with a 75 ante

Hand: Was it Ivey's stare?
Turn: 4h-Js-9h-7c. Ivey calls a bet of 15,000.
River: 8s. Ivey's opponent checks. Ivey bets 45,000 and his opponent mucks. He shows a set, 9c-9d! Ivey does not show and collects his chips.
Ivey at 148,000.
(My Comment: What happened on the flop would be nice to know. But, what exactly do you think Ivey has here? Did he turn a straight? Is he going to call a big turn bet, to complete a straight on the river?)

End of Day 2B-Ivey at 325,000


Day 3: July July 10, 2009. 2,134 players left.

Level 10
Blinds: 600-1,200 with a 200 ante

Hand: Can't win 'em all.
Player moves all-in pre-flop and Ivey calls. Opponent has Ah-10c. Ivey has 9h-9s.
Board: 6d-4d-3h-5c-10d. Ivey loses hand.
Ivey at 355,000.

Level 11
Blinds: 800-1,600 with a 200 ante

Hand: Sometimes you got to fold the winning hand. Maybe here?
Pre-flop Ivey raises to 4,500 from under the gun and two players call.
Flop: Js-5s-5h. Ivey bets 9,000, next player raises to 18,000. Other player folds but Ivey calls.
Turn: 2h. Ivey checks, and his opponent moves all-in with 85,400. Ivey thinks for a few minutes and mucks. Opponent shows one card, the Jd.
Ivey at 358,000.
(My Comment: All-in moves on the river are often either a complete bluff or the nuts. Looks like the nuts to Ivey.)

Day 3 ends. Ivey at 358,000. Leader at 1,380,500.


Day 4: July 11, 2009. 810 players left.

Level 16
Blinds: 3,000-6,000 with a 500 ante

Hand: The rockets hold up and get paid big. Oh, yeah, it's Ivey.
Ivey raises pre-flop to 16,000 from early position and is called by one player.
Flop: 7s-2d-Qh. Ivey bets 23,000 and is called.
Turn: 8h. Ivey bets 55,000 and is called.
River: 4d. Ivey bets big enough to put opponent all-in. Opponents calls. Ivey shows As-Ah. Opponent mucks.
Ivey at 900,000. (Note: There is no reporting on how much of this pot contributed to Ivey's increase in chips from 358,000.)
(My Comment: Ivey fires the third bullet on the river. No resistance. No scare card. Maximum rewards.)

Level 17
Blinds: 3,000-6,000 with a 1,000 ante

Hand: Fold, dude. It's Phil Ivey!
Turn: Ac-Jc-7s-8s. Ivey bets 70,000. Opponent calls.
River: 3d. Ivey bets 120,000. Opponent folds.
Ivey near 1 million.
(My Comment: Pre-flop and flop play would be nice to know. He may just have top pair on the turn, and he is betting for value and making it expensive for his opponent to catch.)

Hand: Hello, it's Phil I-v-e-y!
Board: Qh-5h-9c-7c. Opponent checks. Ivey moves all-in. Opponent calls and shows Ad-9d. Ivey shows Kd-Kc.
River: 7s. Ivey wins.
Ivey at 1.1 million.

Hand: Does he have to wear a name tag?
Pre-flop, Ivey raises to 16,000 and the player on the big blind calls.
Flop: 9c-6s-3d. Opponent check-calls Ivey's bet of 22,000.
Turn: 8d. Ivey bets 55,000 and is called.
River: Kc. Ivey bets 120,000 and opponent folds.
Ivey at 1.2 million.
(My Comment: Ivey keeps firing even with that King on the river. The check-call is an interesting play by his opponent. A check raise on the turn may have forced Ivey to fold.)

Day 4 ends: Ivey with 1,276,000. Leader at 1,819,000.


Day 5-July 12, 2009. 407 players left.

Hand: You ain't gonna hit a set against The Man.
Pre-flop a player moves all-in and Ivey calls. Opponent shows 9h-9c. Ivey has Kd-Kc. Board: Ad-Ac-5c-Ah-8h. Ivey wins.

Ivey at 830,000. (It's noted that Ivey had dropped to 220,000 but no hands were reported. Maybe you are not allowed to report when Ivey losses a lot of chips.)

Day 5 ends. Ivey with 1,400,000. Leader at 4,872,000.


Day 6-July 13, 2009. 185 players left.

Level 21
Blinds: 8,000-16,000 with a 2,000 ante

Hand: Will they ever learn?
Flop: Qc-10c-10h. Ivey and opponent checks.
Turn: As. Ivey and opponent checks.
River 8h. Ivey bets 50,000 and his opponent mucks.
Ivey at 1.7 million.
(My Comment: Whoever bets first here wins on the river, I believe.)

Level 23
Blinds: 12,000-24,000 with a 3,000 ante

Hand: You are moving all-in with A-K against Ivey? You are not playing online.
Pre-flop a player raises to 75,000 from early position and another player calls. Ivey pushes all-in from the small blind for 1,800,000. Original raiser calls the all-in bet for his last 700,000. The other player folds. Ivey has Ks-Kc. Opponent Ah-Kd.
Board: Jc-5s-4d-7d-Js. Ivey wins.
Ivey at 2,680,000.
(My Comment: The first raiser has a tough decision since it's a re-raise from Ivey in the worst position pre-flop. Ivey is aggressive pre-flop, but is he going to re-raise an upfront raiser unless he has a premium hand? I don't think so. If I was the player with the A-K, I would put Ivey on pocket Queens and be wrong.)

Level 24
Blinds: 15,000-30,000 with a 4,000 ante

Hand: Q-Q beats J-J--except against P.I.
Pre-flop a player raises to 80,000 and Ivey re-raises to 260,000. His opponent moves all-in for his last 620,000 and Ivey calls. Opponent shows Qs-Qc. Ivey Jc-Jh.
Board: Js-9s-4c-5c-7c. Ivey wins.
Ivey at 3,260,000.
(My Comment: He got lucky, but he wasn't risking many chips.)

Hand: Charity for an author.
Pre-flop, Ivey raises to 80,000 and Blair Rodman moves all-in for 362,000. Ivey calls and shows Ad-9s. Rodman has 8s-8h.
Board: Kc-10c-4d-6h-2s. Ivey loses a small pot.
(My Comment: Same as before. The risk is small. Ivey actually was in better shape than he might have thought he would be in, given that he has two overcards.)

Level 25
Blinds: 20,000-40,000 with a 5,000 ante

Hand: Meet the son of the Poker Gods.
Pre-flop, Ivey bets 110,000 from the button and his opponent re-raises to 325,000 from the big blind. Ivey calls.
Flop: Qs-4h-2h. Opponent checks and Ivey moves all-in for 910,000. His opponent calls and shows the Qc-7h. Ivey reveals Jh-5h.
Turn: not a heart.
River: is a heart. Ivey hits his flush.
Ivey at over 5,000,000 now.
(My Comment: He tried to steal from the button, and decided to call with the suited hand. The play on the flop is not a bad one since it's a semi-bluff...and in this case, the "bluff" didn't work but the "semi" did:))

Day 6 Ends. Ivey at 6,345,000 Leader: Darvin Moon - 9,745,000


Day 7 July 14, 2009. 64 players left

Level 26
Blinds: 25,000-50,000 with a 5,000 ante

Hand: You are not playing against Phil Hellmuth, bro.
Pre-flop Phil Ivey raises to 135,000 and gets one caller.
Flop: 9c-3h-3s. Both players check.
Turn: 9d. Opponent bets 150,000. Ivey calls.
River: 7s. Opponent bets 360,000. Ivey calls. Opponent has nothing with a Qh-10h. Ivey shows As-Qh, a better nothing.
Ivey now over 7 million.
(My Comment: This is another good learning hand. His opponent is one of the chip leaders. He wants to keep the pot small and keep his decisions easy. If he bets the flop and get called, his opponent will win this hand. Instead, he decides to call down his opponent's small bets. He induced a bluff on the turn and the river, to win a decent pot..

Level 27 Update
Blinds: 30,000-60,000 with a 10,000 ante

Hand: He had to take an early bathroom break, I guess.
Pre-flop Ivey raises to 150,000 from the cutoff and opponent calls from the big blind.
Flop: Ad-5d-Kc. Opponent check-calls Ivey's bets of 225,000.
Turn: 3h. Both players check.
River: 5s. Opponent bets into Ivey with 350,000. Ivey folds and loses small pot.
Ivey at 8.4 million.
(My Comment: My guess is that his opponent has either top or second pair. Ivey clearly tried to steal pre-flop and take down the pot with a continuation bet on the flop. Once it didn't work, he was done with this hand.)

Level 27
Blinds: 30,000-60,000 with a 10,000 ante

Hand: Chip leader my ass.
Billy Kopp is the new chip leader with over 16 million. He raises pre-flop to 150,000 from the hijack position. Ivey calls from the cutoff.
Flop: 7d-7c-2c. Both players check.
Turn: 4h. Both players check.
River: Ac. Kopp bets 225,000. Ivey raises to 700,000 and his opponent folds.
Ivey up to 8.6 million.
(My Comment: Maybe he hit his Ace or maybe he felt his opponent was weak. A river raise usually indicates strength but it's hard to know what is happening here between these top 10 chip leaders.)

Hand: Ivey ain't three betting with 7-2 offsuit, buddy.
Ivey raises pre-flop from the button to 150,000 and gets re-raised to 460,000. Ivey re-re-raises to 1,160,000, and is called.
Flop: Kh-10d-4s. Ivey bets 1,200,000 after opponent checks. His opponent folds.
Ivey over 10,000,000.
(My Comment: His opponent has to fold to that re-raise. Give up when you are beaten.)

Level 28
Blinds: 40,000-80,000 with a 10,000 ante

Hand: You just got pocket Kings? I got a 7!
Pre-flop a player raises to 205,000 and Ivey calls from the small blind.
Flop: Qs-7h-4c. Both payers check.
Turn: 7d. Ivey bets 350,000 and is called.
River: 4d. Ivey bets 750,000 and is called. Ivey shows 9c-7c. His opponent shows his pocket kings before mucking.
Ivey at 11,300,000.
(My Comment: His opponent got too fancy and it cost him. Ivey will defend his big blind with a big range of cards. If you want him to fold, pre-flop raise more than normal. If you want Ivey in, bet smaller pre-flop but make a larger flop bet. While the flop looks safe. It turned out to be a tough loss for his opponent with K-K.)

Level 29
Blinds: 50,000-100,000 with a 10,000 ante

Hand: You making fun of my 7. This time I got a 9!
Pre-flop a player raises to 260,000 from early position and Ivey calls from the big blind.
Flop: 10s-9d-6h. Both players check.
Turn: 9s. Ivey checks. Opponent bets 200,000 and Ivey check-raises to 600,000. Opponent calls.
River: 8c. Ivey bets 1,000,000 and is called. Ivey shows Jh-9h and wins with trips.
Ivey at 14,890,000.
(My Comment: A check raise on the turn can be a bluff, but with that scare card and coordinated board, Ivey is telling you I have a big hand and I'm going to get maximum value for it.)

Day 7 ends: 27 players Ivey at 11,350,000. Leader: Darvin Moon - 20,160,000


Day 8: July 15, 2009...Play 'til final table of 9 players

Level 30.
Blinds: 60,000-120,000 with a 15,000 ante

Hand: He owed the gods a Queen from before.
Player moves all-in preflop for 1,030,000. Ivey calls with Jc-Js. Opponent has Qc-5c.
Board: 10s-8h-2d-Qd-8s. Ivey loses.
(My Comment: It was a good call with only about a 10 percent chip loss.)

Level 30. 23 players left
Blinds: 60,000-120,000 with a 15,000 ante

Hand: What! This can't be...the favorite hand beats Ivey. Change the deck!
Pre-flop the first player raises to 290,000 and the second player moves all-in for almost 2.5 million. Ivey calls and the original raiser folds. Ivey has Jh-Jd. Opponent has Qh-Qd.
Board: 10h-5h-5c-7d-4d. Ivey loses.
Ivey down to under 6 million.
(My Comment: It's your basic cooler.)

Hand: What? Losing to Shulman. Change the dealer!
Ivey is first in pre-flop and calls from the small blind. Jeff Shulman checks from the big blind.
Flop: As-Js-2d. Ivey bets 120,000 and gets called by Shulman.
Turn: 2c. Ivey checks and folds after Shulman bets 200,000.
(My Comment: May as well take a shot with that Ace on the flop. Gotta figure your opponent would raise pre-flop with any Ace.)

Level 31. 19 players left
Blinds: 80,000-160,000 with a 20,000 ante

Hand: There is a disturbance in the Force.
Player raises pre-flop to 400,000 under-the-gun and Ivey raises to 1,150,000. His opponent moves all-in. Ivey calls and shows Ac-10h. His opponent has 2c-2s.
Board: Jc-6d-3c-4c-9s. Ivey loses.
Ivey at 2,640,000.
(My Comment: Ivey needs chips and he is forcing the action.)

Level 31. 15 players left
Blinds: 80,000-160,000 with a 20,000 ante

Hand: Phew...for a minute, I thought the world was coming to an end.
Phil Ivey raises pre-flop to 420,000 and gets one caller.
Flop: 8s-6c-4c. Ivey bets 600,000 and gets called
Turn: 4s. Both players check.
River: Kd. Both players check. Ivey shows 9s-9h, while opponent has 10c-9c. Ivey wins.
Ivey at 6.8 million. (There is no report how Ivey won over $4 million in chips. Someone check his pockets!)
(My Comment: Notice how he is not willing to make the pot bigger on the turn when the 4 pairs, or bet with the overcard on the river. He will only get called on the river by a player who has him beaten.)

Level 32. 13 players left.
Blinds: 100,000-200,000 with a 30,000 ante

Hand: As it was before.
Ivey raises pre-flop to 525,000 and the big blind calls.
Flop: 6h-2h-2s. The big blind checks and Ivey bets 700,000. His opponent mucks.
Ivey at 7,200,000.
(My Comment: Your basic continuation bet on the flop by Ivey takes down the pot. Notice the texture of the flop is not threatening at all.)

Hand: As it should be.
Ivey raises to 500,000 pre-flop. Opponent calls.
Flop: 6s-5c-3d. Ivey bets 700,000 and opponent folds.
Ivey at 6.5 million (not reported on the hand or hands he lost 700,000).
(My Comment: Another continuation bet on the flop.)

Level 33. 12 players left.
Blinds: 120,000-240,000 with a 30,000 ante

Hand: As it is meant to be.
Ivey bets 675,000 pre-flop and is called.
Flop: Ad-7c-5d. Opponent check-calls Ivey's bet of 800,000.
Turn: 3d. Ivey gets his opponent to fold with a bet of 1,700,000.
Ivey at 9,030,000.
(My Comment: That looks like a scare card on the turn. I can't figure the check call on the flop by his opponent...a wide range of hands are possible.)

Hand: And as we hoped it would be.
A player moves all-in for 2,350,000 and Ivey calls. His opponent has Kc-Qs. Ivey Ah-10h.
Board: 8s-3s-3d-3h-5c. Ivey wins.
Ivey at 9,610,000.
(My Comment: I think this is the riskiest play of the day. He is risking more than one-third of his chips with A-10. Is it because the cards are suited? Even if he puts his opponent on a small or medium pair, the hand is a coin flip. I guess that's why he is Phil Ivey, and you are not=))

End of the Day
Players Remaining: 9 out of 6,494

Chip Counts:

1. Darvin Moon - 58,930,000
2. Eric Buchman - 34,800,000
3. Steven Begleiter - 29,885,000
4. Jeff Shulman - 19,580,000
5. Joe Cada - 13,215,000
6. Kevin Schaffel - 12,390,000
7. Phil Ivey - 9,765,000
8. Antoine Saout - 9,500,000
9. James Akenhead - 6,800,000

If he is in 7th place, why is he the favorite to win?

I think if you study these hands, it will improve your game. Look at the difference on when he checks flops versus bets the flop, and when he checks turns and bets the turn, etc.

The keys to his decision are based on who was the pre-flop raiser, the texture of the board, who he is playing against, the range of hands he put his opponent in, and the chip stacks.

While he got lucky in a few hands, it happened because he was pushing the action and he had outs if he got called. That's the key to winning poker tournaments.

Be more aggressive than your opponents and push the action. You must be lucky to win a major event, and really any tournament.

Mitchell Cogert is the author of "Tournament Poker: 101 Winning Moves." It is the only reference book to reveal the plays the Pros use to win a poker tournament. 

These plays are based on reviewing 20 years worth of tournament poker strategies and by actual play against Daniel Negreanu, Erick Lindgren, David Pham and other top pros.

The book is highly rated with 4.5 out of 5 stars on amazon and a #1 best seller in it's category.

For more information go to Or, his blog Follow on Twitter: Mitchell1969


    David Brookshire Wins World Series of Poker $2,500 Omaha/Stud Eight-Or-Better Event

    Poker logo

    David Brookshire Wins World Series of Poker $2,500 Omaha/Stud Eight-Or-Better Event

    via Cardplayer

    Poker Stories Podcast Kristen Bicknell: Former Super Nova Elite Grinder Finding Success In Live Tournaments

    Poker logo

    Poker Stories Podcast Kristen Bicknell: Former Super Nova Elite Grinder Finding Success In Live Tournaments

    via Cardplayer

    Timur Margolin Wins 2018 WSOP $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em Event

    Poker logo

    Timur Margolin Wins 2018 WSOP $2,500 No-Limit Hold'em Event

    via Cardplayer

    Norm Macdonald is Loving the World Series of Poker

    Poker logo

    Norm Macdonald is Loving the World Series of Poker

    via Pokernews