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The 'Tiger Woods' of poker set to own 2018

PICTURED: John Portch

WHAT NEXT for Phil Ivey? The American, dubbed ‘the Tiger Woods of poker’, was back in the headlines last month having lost his Supreme Court challenge over his £7.7 million winnings from a London casino.

After years of litigation, Ivey was found guilty of using an illegal edge-sorting technique while playing baccarat at the Crockfords Club in 2012. Not the sort of headlines the 41-year-old was looking to make but the story of his career is still his to write despite several years in relative obscurity.

In July, he was inducted into the World Series of Poker Hall of Fame – during a period when he has purposefully flown under the radar. Aside from a handful of high stakes cash games, little was seen of Ivey in recent years until he resurfaced in an interview with Somuchpoker last month to reveal his plans to return to live tournaments in 2018.

“I love tournaments and I’ll always play tournaments,” he insisted. “I just had some personal, family issues and didn’t want to be part of the media at the moment. I had a lot of things going on so I decided to take some time off. Next year I’m going to start playing again.”

It will be a welcome return to the American and European circuits for a man regularly cited as the best all-round player in the world for his rare ability to come up trumps in both tournament and private games.

Ivey, who began playing poker aged eight, has won over $19.5 million in live tournament play and amassed a personal net worth reported to be $100 million. He is also the owner of 10 World Series of Poker bracelets.

He recently moved to Hong Kong, where he can readily make the short hop to the casinos of Macau and south-east Asia for the private games he has favoured of late. The California-born, New Jersey-raised Ivey reached the peak of his fame during his regular stints on the tables of NBC’s cancelled Poker After Dark series. Between 2007 and 2011 viewers across the globe relished watching on as his glare rattle opponent after opponent.

Being a supremely gifted young African-American in a predominantly white sport made his moniker, the Tiger Woods of Poker, inevitable.

Both men have made the news for the wrong reasons but if Ivey is true to his word then 2018 promises a few more headlines in his favour.

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