Generally I have tried my best to avoid writing about the state of US poker post Black Friday, mainly because there are so many great writers across the pond doing a much better job than I ever could hope to. Not sure why, but I do feel compelled to wax lyrical on the latest string of bombshells surrounding Phil Ivey and Full Tilt Poker.
I got wrapped up in this story after cracking a quick joke on twitter that backfired. It wasn't actually that funny, and I had just woken up when I did it, so I wasn't really thinking when I tweeted. It was a reply to a Tom Dwan tweet, like a true keyboard warrior I never expected a response from the OP, because you don't really from a 'celebrity'. This is what I tweeted (which includes Dwan's original tweet):
So..you agree with him and are suing/boycotting too? RT @Tom_Dwan: @philivey poker isn't a sport.Rest of your statement is awesome though.
But low and behold, he did respond, quite quickly, by direct message. As it was a DM I won't post it (It was nothing hush hush, I just respect private messages) but needless to say he wasn't happy with the tweet, and he respectfully pointed out the fact that he had personally pledged all the money Full Tilt has paid him to the players, should FTP not pay out to their US customers.
And right he was, I apologised for the confusion, and publiclly apologised to Dwan on twitter. (Which prompted a smiley face DM from him which I assume means we are best friends now). What Dwan is doing, imo, is arguably a lot braver than what Ivey is doing.
Do not get me wrong, I respect Ivey greatly, I did anyway before, and do just as much now. It cannot be easy to walk away from your own poker room, it certainly cannot be easy for him to essentialy declare war on some of his close friends, and I imagine it is very hard to sit out of the WSOP when he has a bracelet legacy to maintain.
As brave as this was for Ivey, it was also the obvious thing to do from a PR perspective. At some point, pissed off FTP customers were going to give him shit about getting their money back (I assume that is what Bord vs Juanda was about, likewise I know Ferguson and Lederer feel like marked men). In light of all the recent revalations about FTP, things were only going to get worse for sponsored representatives and shareholders during the WSOP.
Ivey had the most to lose of any of the sponsored pros, he is the most recognised face in poker, and the best player in everyones books – he does not need to get caught up in all this. By declaring war on Full Tilt, who are sinking fast and he will never be able to play there again anyway, he looks like the hero in this story. He can go away for the summer, come back when the dust has settled, and look like the people's champion along the way.
I also feel as though perhaps Ivey was aware somethig big is about to go down. Although I am sure they did not know about the DOJ thing ahead of time, I am convinced Hellmuth and Annie Duke were becoming more aware of the fragility of UB, which is why they left, seemingly for no reason. Likewise, I think Phil possibly knows of the gravity of what is ahead for FTP, hence the decision to leave (Maybe Nick Rainey told him what he was about to say on QuadJacks).
Please do not mistake this for dissing Ivey, I am not. What he did was brave and it was honourable. It was just also the only thing he could have really done from a PR perspective.
Back to twitter and I am quite proud of this tweet, which got a lot of retweets today:
Anyone think @Phil_Hellmuth will seize the opportunity and come dressed as Phil Ivey for his main event entrance this year?