Takes the Fifth:
Phil Ivey wins fifth WSOP gold bracelet,
defeats Robert Williamson in marathon
do Phil Ivey, Chris Ferguson, Bones
Berland, T.J. Cloutier, Ted Forrest, Berry
Johnston, Layne Flack, and Stu Ungar all
have in common?
If you answered all of the above players
have won five gold bracelets (lifetime
wins) at the World Series of Poker --
you're right. On June 28, 2005 Phil Ivey
won his fifth WSOP title, becoming the
youngest player in history ever to reach
such a lofty plateau. Still in his 20s,
Ivey has won more bracelets than great
players twice his age and shows no signs
of slowing down. Only 14 players in WSOP
have won five or more gold bracelets in
I think I can win 30, said Ivey afterward.
Tournaments are much tougher to win now
because the fields are (so big). I don't
play as many tournaments for that reason,
but I still think I can get to 30.
notion that any single player, even a
player with Phil Ivey's level of skill
and self-confidence could possibly reach
30 lifetime victories seems remote at
first glance. But given what Ivey has
accomplished in just seven years of tournament
poker, don't bet against the player who
started out grinding an hourly win rate
in the cardrooms of Atlantic City over
a decade ago (he allegedly played poker
with a false ID).
times do change. Ivey has experienced
a rocky year, both personally and professionally.
Ivey had not won at the WSOP in three
long years, seemingly an eternity for
the player who burst upon the scene like
a firestorm and won three bracelets all
in a single year (2002). Ivey appeared
at the final table here at the Rio four
months ago. He played in the WSOP Circuit
event, finishing a disappointing 8th.
Little did he know at the time, but that
would be the last occasion when Ivey's
father would ever see his son play. Ivey
Sr. passed away a few weeks later. After
taking some time off, Ivey returned to
the final table at the WSOP Circuit event
at Lake Tahoe and finished in 2nd place.
While 8th and 2nd might have been acceptable
finishes for many poker players, Ivey
was more determined than ever to come
to this year's WSOP and win his fifth
tournament was special for a number of
reasons. It was arguably the most appealing
final table thus far in 2005, loaded with
superstar talent and just enough wild
cards to make the night unpredictable.
Five of the nine players were former gold
bracelet winners, with a staggering 20
titles shared between them Phil Hellmuth
(9), Allen Cuningham (4), Phil Ivey (4),
Eddy Scharf (2), and Robert Williamson
just as impressive was the fact that Robert
Williamson III was making his fourth straight
final table appearance in this event.
Widely-acknowledged as one of the world's
top Pot-Limit Omaha players, Williamson
solidified his reputation as a master
of the game by making it through a grueling
level of competition for a fourth consecutive
year. Williamson came into this year with
previous 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place finishes.
He wasn't interested in anything other
than winning his second gold bracelet.
There were a number of problems, however,
with that notion -- eight problems,
in fact. But no problem loomed larger
than the player sitting in Seat Six with
the chip lead. Phil Ivey arrived with
494,000 in chips, over twice the level
of his closest rival.
On Day Three, players were eliminated
in the following order:
Richard St. Peter took poker's
toughest beat when he not only made an
ESPN-televised final table, but he busted
out first (10th place) which was officially
the bubble. He busted out and received
a few handshakes and applause. No money.
Claude Emile Cohen was the first
player to exit in the money. Cohen started
with two pair, but busted out losing to
Davood Mehrmand's trip aces. Cohen was
one of four Europeans in the finale. Ninth
place paid $52,555.
Hellmuth has played as well as anyone
at this year's WSOP. But thus far, he
has been unable to win the elusive 10th
title he seeks. Two days after Johnny
Chan became the all-time leader in WSOP
wins, Hellmuth hoped to draw back to even
with a victory. It wasn't to be. Hellmuth
took a horrible beat when he flopped a
set of queens, which lost to Robert Williamson's
higher set (kings). The 1989 world poker
champion received $70,075 for 8th place.
This was Hellmuth's 49th time to cash
at the WSOP. He now owns the lifetime
record for most cashes one ahead of
One of the tournament's most
exciting hands took place when Phil Ivey
knocked out two players with a flush.
Eddy Scharf flopped bottom set (deuces).
Sigi Stockinger flopped top set (queens).
Ivey had the nut-flush draw and hit a
spade. The board did not pair. That eliminated
Lufthansa airline pilot Eddy Scharf in
7th place. Scharf has won two gold bracelets.
This time, the best he could do was collect
On the same hand, Sigi Stockinger
went out. The Austrian initially posed
the biggest challenge to Ivey (second
in chips), but flopping top set and losing
was a crushing blow. Sixth place paid
Surinder Sunar was the shortest
stack and watched happily as two players
went out. That moved him two spots up
the money ladder. Sunar went out a few
minutes later when he failed to connect
on a flush draw. Sunar, from England,
received $122,635. Surunder Sunar remains
the player who probably has as much talent
and experience as anyone, yet has still
not won a gold bracelet.
This was Allen Cunningham's third
final table appearance so far in at WSOP
2005. His quest for bracelet number five
was destroyed when he flopped top set
(again, the hex-ridden queens) and lost
to Phil Ivey's flush. Ivey flopped a flush
and the board failed to pair. Cunningham
walked to the cage and quietly collected
Ivey was over a million in chips,
and Davood Mehrmand seemed delighted just
to be sitting at the dinner table. Mehrmand
didn't play many hands and getting short
on chips, shifted gears. Incredibly, Mehrmand
stunned his two opponents by winning a
number of key pots and seized a slight
chip lead. That lasted about two hours.
Then, after the trio had been playing
three hours together with no end in sight,
Mehrmand made a surprising play with a
straight draw (wrap) which was called
down by Ivey. Mehrmand missed his draw
and the Iranian-born poker and backgammon
player now living in Germany was out in
3rd place. He was paid $192,710.
Place When heads-up play began,
Phil Ivey enjoyed a 3 to 1 chip lead over
Robert Williamson 1,400,000 to 425,000.
It took another 90 minutes to clobber
Williamson's dream of staging a comeback.
On the final hand, Williamson bet aggressively
with top pair, overcards, and a flush
draw. He picked the wrong time to play
a hand strongly. Ivey had flopped a straight
and the big hand held up.
runner up was Robert Williamson III. Second
place prize money amounted to $350,380
a figure the Dallas-based poker pro
would gladly have given away for a second
Place Phil Ivey was born in New
Jersey. He has played poker professionally
for 10 years. He moved to Las Vegas a
few years ago to concentrate on high-stakes
games. Ivey routinely plays in the biggest
cash games in the world.
seriously believes he can win 30 gold
bracelets. At this rate, he will have
number thirty at the 2021 World Series
of Poker at the age of 48. Is in conceivable
that even Ivey's optimistic estimate may
be too low?
by Nolan Dalla World Series of
Poker Media Director
Series of Poker Circuit Director of Operations
World Series of Poker Tournament Director
Rio Poker Room Manager Michael
Rio Poker Tournament Director Robert