The PokerNews Top 10 Stories of 2015 is presented by PLO QuickPro, the fastest way to learn PLO.
As far as the poker world is concerned, the 2015 calendar year has come to a close. In PokerNews tradition, our staff has scrolled through the archives and gone over the most compelling stories of the year to determine what we feel are the top 10 of the year. Our list was generated based upon a vote from staff members and audience feedback. Over the next 10 days, we'll count down what we believe are the biggest and most interesting stories from 2015.
Coming in at No. 5 on this year's list is the up-and-down year had by none other than Phil Ivey.
Be it as it may, but Phil Ivey seems to know exactly what needs to be done to make headlines in the poker industry.
While the poker pro reduced his appearance to a minimum in the last edition of the World Series of Poker, showing up just on time to take a seat in the $111,111 High Roller for ONE DROP, his 2015 will be remembered to be one of the most remarkable years in his career both in a positive and a negative way.
"Of course I care about bracelets," Ivey told PokerNews as he walked the hallways at the WSOP last June. "But you know, sometimes there are games elsewhere in the world and duty calls."
Rumors have it that Ivey spent a good part of the WSOP in Macau, where he was busy whale hunting in nosebleed cash games. However, one of the thoughts he shared with PokerNews’ Marty Derbyshire could be the key to explaining the player's results in 2015 and to imagine what the next year might bring to the 39-year-old champion.
"It was lot easier when I had the bracelet bets," Ivey said about his relationship with the WSOP. “It was a lot more motivating to sit down and play the tournaments — you know, like the $1Ks and the $1,500s. It's easier when you have a bet that you're going after."
Ivey Wins Aussie Millions LK Boutique $250,000 Challenge — Again
If motivation is what Ivey is after, then it's much easier to explain why his page on the HendonMob lists only two cashes in 2015, with both results coming from 2015’s edition of the Aussie Millions.
Although his deep run in the AU$10,600 Main Event ended with a 23rd-place finish worth AU$40,000 on Jan. 25, less than one week later Ivey found a way to write his name in the history books of the game once again by taking down the Aussie Millions LK Boutique $250,000 Challenge for the third time in four years. Not only was it Ivey’s third time in the winner’s circle for this event, but he achieved the impressive feat of back-to-back victories in one of the toughest poker events in the world.
Launched in 2011 as the tournament with the highest buy-in in poker's history — a record now held by the WSOP’s $1 million BIG ONE for ONE DROP — the $250,000 Challenge is one of the most anticipated live events of the year, as it gives the best players in the world a chance to play with each other for one of the biggest money prizes of the season.
The first year, Erik Seidel bested a field of 20 entries to earn the AU$2.5 million top prize. One year later, it was Ivey's turn to grab the title and score a win of AU$2 million after beating a field of 16 entries.
Back in 2013, Sam Trickett bested his second-place finish in 2011 as he won AU$2 million for finishing in the No. 1 spot from a field of 18 entries. Then, in 2014, it was again Ivey the one who took home the AU$4 million first-place score after topping a record field of 46 entries.
So, if motivation is what Ivey's needs to get involved and give it his best at the poker table, this is probably what helped him to do the unthinkable back in February and win the prestigious tournament for the third time in four years with a first-place finish worth AU$2.205 million.
The fact that Ivey was in the game to win it became clear during Day 1 of the event, when he finished atop the chip counts leading the way with a stack of 958,000, well ahead of Doug Polk (863,000), Jason Mo (784,000), and Scott Seiver, whose third bullet allowed him to qualify to Day 2 with 632,000 in chips.
Back to the table for the final day on Feb. 2, Ivey's triumphant march to back-to-back titles saw the player eliminate Dan Smith, Isaac Haxton, and Richard Yong in what seemed to be an unstoppable run.
One of the more remarkable hands Ivey got into during Day 2 was the one that sent Haxton to the rails. As Donnie Peters described it in the event's live coverage on PokerNews, “Doug Polk raised to 55,000 from under the gun, Ivey called on the button, and then Haxton reraised all in from the big blind for what looked to be between 700,000 and 800,000.
"After Polk folded, Ivey went deep into the tank. He counted out the chips to make the call, but couldn't quite seem to get up the courage to push them into the middle. Eventually, though, Ivey did call, and this is when he saw the bad news.
“Haxton tabled the , and the cowboys had Ivey's in bad shape.
“The flop gave Ivey the lead with a pair of aces, and Haxton was left needing to come from behind. The turn was the , and that meant Haxton was drawing dead going to the river. The completed the board to finish Ivey with a full house and send Haxton out the door in seventh place."
Ivey's victory came after a 30-minute heads-up battle played with Canada's Mike “Timex” McDonald, who improved upon the third-place finish he posted in the 2014 edition of the event.
Heads-up play began with Ivey holding 3.61 million in chips to McDonald's 2.64 million, but the defending champ was able to whittle away his opponent before getting lucky to finish the job.
The final hand happened when McDonald raised to 100,000 and then snap-called off for approximately 1.3 million when Ivey moved all in.
McDonald was in a great spot to double, but then the flop came down . Ivey paired his king, and suddenly McDonald was in need of either an ace, jack, or some other lucky runout of the cards. The turn wasn't what he was looking for, and neither was the river. With that, McDonald finished as runner-up for just under AU$1.6 million, while Ivey successfully defended his LK Boutique $250,000 Challenge title. It also moved Ivey into third place ahead of Dan Colman on poker’s all-time money list.
Ivey Closes 2015 as Online's Biggest Loser
If Ivey's legendary back-to-back victory in the $250,000 Challenge helped the player to bring his live tournament winnings up to a total of $23,199,534, things did not go nearly as well in the online world, where the player is due to become this year's biggest loser.
Ivey's online performance has been negative during the entire 2015, with the exception of May and July. Those were the only two months that have seen him in the black.
During 2015, Ivey tallied up losses for $2,481,266 on PokerStars, where he played a total of 126,026 hands over 622 sessions as ”RaiseOnce,” and $1,250,806 on Full Tilt, where he engaged in 32,737 hands over 175 sessions as ”Polarizing.”
2015 Biggest Losers as of Dec. 21
With total losses of $3,732,072, 2015 has been Ivey's worse year so far. During the past 12 months, the player managed to do worse than in 2013 (-$2,441,773) and 2014 (-2,373,298), when he finished in the third and second spot of the year's list of biggest losers, respectively.
While it is unclear if Ivey's poor results at the nosebleeds are due to his inability to find the right motivation or his opponents' skills growing superior, numbers show that the player's former Full Tilt account ”Phil Ivey” is still the biggest winning account in online poker with more than $19 million in winnings.
Online Poker Biggest Winners: Overall
PokerNews Top 10 Stories of 2015:
- #6: Old Guys Still Got It - Hellmuth, Juanda, Seidel Score Big
- #7: Andy Beal Returns to Vegas to Face Todd Brunson
- #8: GPI Player of the Year Race Comes Down to the Wire
- #9: PokerStars Approved to Operate in New Jersey
- #10: GVC Buys bwin.party, Ourgame Buys WPT
Be sure to stay tuned to PokerNews as we continue to count down the top stories from 2015.