Phil Ivey Gets Personal on ESPN E:60


Phil Ivey, a professional poker player and one of the 2009 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event November Nine, made an appearance on the sports news show “ESPN E:60” on Tuesday night, revealing a number of details about his life on and off the felt and how he got his start in poker.

In the opening segment, ESPN Insider reporter Chad Millman introduced the piece by talking about the mystique of Ivey’s high roller lifestyle, which he notoriously hides from public viewing.  However, the show’s producers were able to convince Ivey to give them a glimpse of how one of the top players in the world spends his time, inviting the show’s cameras on a four-day excursion around the globe.

Ivey Learns the Game

At the age of eight, Ivey lived in a home with parents that didn’t gamble, but a grandfather downstairs that did.  His grandfather had an air conditioner that drew Ivey for relief from the hot days and taught him how to play the game of poker. His childhood friend also talked about how a young Ivey rolled dice in the bathroom to make money from neighborhood kids.

The segment delved into Ivey’s lofty ambitions as a teenager. He was flipping burgers at McDonald’s when he decided that he didn’t want to follow in the footsteps of his parents and instead set his sights on becoming the best poker player in the world.  He helped build his bankroll by working as a telemarketer and after turning 18, played for 16 and 18-hour stretches in Atlantic City on the weekends.

Ivey also candidly shared his times going broke in Atlantic City.  Interestingly, Ivey revealed that he had to sleep under the boardwalk a few nights after going broke.

Taking a Shot at the Highest Stakes

Not content to play in Atlantic City, Ivey headed west to Las Vegas and nearly stopped playing poker altogether.  Down to his last $50,000 and playing beyond the limits of his bankroll, he told his longtime friend that he would never play poker again if he lost it all.

Instead, Ivey went on to win big and never looked back.

Playing Online Poker

For online poker players, the most entertaining parts of the show include Ivey repeatedly mentioning how much money he was able to make in such a short amount of time on the virtual felts.  After making quick stops in casinos around the world, Ivey shows how nonchalant he is about winning six- and seven-figure sums in less than 60 minutes.

“I think what makes me really good at poker is that I have a complete disregard for money,” said Ivey. “If I need to bluff $3,000 or $400,000 in a hand and I’m bluffing, I just don’t care.”

Poker is Not a Gamble

A memorable moment from Ivey came in one of the final segments of the piece, in which ESPN reporter Chad Millman asked the poker player if he thinks he could one day lose it all if he continues to gamble.  Ivey had a quick response.

“No, you know why? Because poker is not gambling.  Playing poker is just like a job.  And I know that if I put in the time, I know that at the end of the year I’m going to end up winning.”

This article was written by Trevor of


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