By now you have probably heard that Phil Ivey has declared that he will not be playing in the World Series of Poker this year, and is suing Tiltware, which I believe is the software arm of FullTilt where he has been an icon for several years. The full statement, which was posted May 30, can be found here. While his absence from the WSOP is not likely to benefit me, since my only event will be the Seniors tourney, I suppose there are others who are glad that they won't have to worry about facing him across the table.
His statement, though, brings up a whole host of questions. Some of these points have been discussed all over the web and undoubtedly there will be much more analysis and speculation about what it all means. Here are a few thoughts that have crossed my mind.
One sentence of the statement says, "I am not playing in the World Series of Poker as I do not believe it is fair that I compete when others cannot." This appears to imply that Ivey is sympathetic to the players whose funds are stuck on FullTilt and who cannot cash out the money they intended to use to buy into various WSOP events. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. One would think that a top-notch player like Ivey would be happy to have less competition and smaller fields to contend with. How many players will be shut out of the WSOP because of their unavailable funds is unknown (to me, anyway) and may never be known precisely, so maybe it isn't a big number. But how a boycott of the WSOP by Ivey will benefit the stuck players is beyond me. Maybe he is trying to pressure the FullTilt honchos to step on the gas in their efforts to pay out to US players, and if they miraculously succeed, he will rescind his boycott and play in events later in the Series (with FullTilt patch in place). Plus, if his action appears to have had some success in getting players their money, he will gain a lot more positive press and fan appreciation. It still seems to me, though, that the losers in this boycott are Caesars and the WSOP organization, who stand to lose some players who will join the boycott or decide not to show up if they think won't get a chance to interact with Ivey in or around the Series.
The last sentence of the statement says, at the end, "I will, as I have for the last six weeks, dedicate the entirety of my time and efforts to finding a solution for those who have been wronged by the painfully slow process of repayment." My question is, what can Phil Ivey do to "find a solution" to this issue? If he was part of the FullTilt group in charge of handling the player funds, which I seriously doubt, what can he do that he hasn't done already? If he is not part of that group, which I expect is the case, what influence can he have or what can he do about the payouts to the US (and other) players? Does he have enough money in his bank accounts to pay the players what they are owed? If he does, why would he do that? I just haven't figured out why he would say this except as a way to say to the players, "I'm on your side."
I have read a response to Ivey's statement from Tiltware (Pauly quotes it on his site here) which is very unflattering to Ivey and calls his motives into question. It will be interesting to see how all of this shakes out over the next few weeks. Will Ivey and Tiltware kiss and make up? Will a lot of dirty laundry see the light of day? Will FullTilt US members ever see their money? We are in for some entertaining and potentially enlightening exchanges in the near future, methinks.
Meanwhile, two weeks from today I will arrive in Las Vegas to prepare for WSOP Event # 30, the Seniors Texas Hold'Em Championship (No-Limit) which begins at 12:00 noon June 17. I've been doing a lot of reading of my poker books and playing when I have had a chance in the local bar league tournaments. As I type this, I am playing on line in a tournament on the new RISE Poker site, a freeroll with a $1,000 prize pool. My game plan for the WSOP tourney is to play my usual tight-aggressive game and avoid marginal situations to the best of my ability. I fully expect to be outclassed by most of the competition in this tournament, and will be praying for the poker gods and the Card Fairy to smile on me during my participation. I will be sending updates from my plain old dumb cell phone to Twitter, so look for me there as @yestbay if you want to find out how I am doing.