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Ivey’s growing reputation

AND THE WINNER IS: Ivey waves to supporters after finishing in the final nine at the World Series of Poker at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas

THAT PHIL Ivey is known as ‘the Tiger Woods of Poker’ says everything about his stature within the world of professional card playing.

The 37-year-old American has amassed a fortune believed to be in excess of £66 million and has won eight World Series of Poker bracelets.

These prestigious trinkets are amongst the most coveted non-cash prizes in tournament poker and Ivey is the youngest person to accrue eight.

His penetrating glare, which has driven retinues of rivals to distraction, has been a staple of tournament poker for almost a decade.

Ivey has been labelled the most complete poker player in the world for his aptitude in both tournament poker and private cash competitions. Seldom does mastery of the two disciplines go in tandem.

One of Ivey’s more infamous private games saw him defeat a Texan billionaire, Andy Beal, heads up with a million dollars at stake in 2006.

STAR: Ivey

But controversy tends to follow the most renowned card players for in October last year the California-born, New Jersey raised card player became embroiled in a dispute with the Crockfords casino in London following a game of Punto Banco.

Crockfords denied Ivey his £7.3m winnings but it has never been made clear what crime, if any, he committed.

Yet no litigation can obfuscate the philanthropic work his privileged status enables him to undertake.

Following a series of donations to Empowered to Excel, an American charity for underprivileged children, Ivey co-founded a children’s charity with his mum, the Budding Ivey Foundation, which is named after his grandfather.

The elder Ivey taught the eight-year-old Phil to play five-card stud in order to educate his grandson on the pitfalls of professional gambling.

As he learnt his future trade in numerous backroom games Ivey lost more often than not, but those losses shaped a precocious youngster who was using a fake ID in order to compete in casinos before his 21st birthday.

“The players that don't do as well are just sitting there folding every hand and not taking chances,” he said.

“I’m playing against the best players in the world day in and day out, so you can’t just sit there and play only good hands all the time.

“You’ve got to take some chances and know when you’re beat and know how to get certain advantages.”

After a year’s hiatus Ivey returned to tournament competition in 2012 and further enhanced his reputation.

Most notably he won £1.3m at the Aussie Millions last January.

Ivey also established, a social networking site which promotes video tutorials from which users can hone their poker skills.

Ivey’s public appearances in 2013 include the annual World Series of Poker event in Las Vegas from May 29 until July 15, where he will continue his quest for a ninth gold bracelet.

He is also tipped to return to the Macau High Stakes Challenge later in the summer.

Whatever lies ahead in the world of poker, Ivey’s name will be at the forefront.

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