While he was absent through the first 67 events on the World Series of Poker schedule, 10-time WSOP bracelet winner and high-stakes poker legend Phil Ivey made sure not to miss the 2016 WSOP Main Event.
"You know I love this event," he told PokerNews. "This is the biggest tournament of the year for all poker players and I try to make it back if I can for it."
In amassing one of the most impressive résumés in the game, and a reputation as one of the world's best cash-game and tournament players, Ivey has made a number of deep runs in the Main Event that have only ended in heartbreak.
In 2002, he finished 23rd, marking his first Main Event cash, and a year later, he turned a full house against Chris Moneymaker, got all his chips in the middle as the odds on favorite to drag a million-chip pot and take control heading into the tournaments final day, only to be beat by a miracle ace on the river. Moneymaker had trip queens that magically turned into a bigger full house. Ivey busted 10th, and the rest is poker lore, with Moneymaker going on to win the tournament and ignite the poker boom.
In 2005 he ran deep again, failing to get over the hump with a 20th-place finish, and of course, in 2009 Ivey recorded his best ever Main Event finish, making the November Nine and ultimately finishing in seventh place for $1,404,014.
Ivey's last Main Event cash was in 2014 when he finished 430th and even though high-stakes cash games around the globe have become his biggest priorities over the past few years, he still turned up to play in 2015, and this year.
"I've been quite busy and I haven't played any tournaments," he said of the 2016 WSOP. "This is my first one and, honestly, I'm happy I was able to get back and play this one."
Unfortunately for Ivey, things have not been going as well as he'd hoped his return to the WSOP felt would have gone. Although he survived his Day 1 flight earlier this week, he headed into the late levels of Day 2 with a short stack. However, any suggestion that rust may have been a factor in the results so far were quickly snuffed out.
"I am a little rusty from not playing tournaments," Ivey said. "But that has nothing to do with how I'm doing right now. Hopefully I'll turn it around."
He didn't, and heartbreak came around again with Ivey getting it in with an open-ended straight-flush draw in Level 10. He missed, ace-high won the hand and Ivey headed for the exits, saying hello, and goodbye to the World Series of Poker for another year.