Brock Parker won back-to-back bracelets in short-handed hold’em events, but that won’t be the big story of the WSOP. Ville Wahlbeck of Finland leads the WSOP Player of the Year race after cashing in four $10,000 World Championship events and reaching three final tables, finishing 1st, 2nd, and 3rd — but that won’t be the big story of the WSOP either.
None of that matters, because it became obvious on Saturday that the 2009 World Series of Poker belongs to Phil Ivey.
0On Saturday night, Phil Ivey was heads up against Ming Lee in Event #25 ($2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo), playing for his second bracelet of the Series and his seventh overall. It attracted the biggest crowd of the year, and on the secondary stage, fans were able to get a closer look at the action.
1Maria Ho (standing, right) waits for a break to ask Phil Ivey to schedule an interview as he is among the short stacks with 12 players remaining in Event #25 ($2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo).
2Donna Varlotto (standing, center) sweats her boyfriend Steve Wong (right) in Event #25 ($2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo). Ivey, of course, is in the foreground.
3Carlos Mortensen is among the chipleaders with 12 players remaining in Event #25 ($2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo). Mortensen is the only player in history to win the two largest prizepool tournaments of the year — the WSOP Main Event (2001) and the WPT World Championship (2007). Ivey’s presence can still be felt, even in the background at the next table.
4Dutch Boyd is another of the top players who stands in the way of Phil Ivey’s second bracelet of the Series. Boyd rose to fame when he just missed the final table of the 2003 WSOP Main Event, and won a WSOP bracelet in 2006 in $2,500 Short-Handed No-Limit Hold’em.
5Phil Ivey was crippled down to just 68,000 in chips when he started a three-way pot against Steve Wong and Frank Debus. Ivey called every street before moving all in on the river with his few remaining chips with the board showing As-6h-3s-8d-2s. Debus folded and Wong called. Ivey turned over Ks-Kh-5h-4h for a six-high straight and a perfect 5-low to scoop the entire pot and triple up to a more comfortable stack of 200,000.
6With nine players remaining, Event #25 ($2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo) moved to the secondary stage. The players, clockwise from seat 1: Eric Buchman, Dutch Boyd, Tom Koral, Carlos Mortensen, Peter Gelencser, Phil Ivey, Steve Wong, Ming Lee, and Jon “PearlJammer” Turner. Turner had the chip lead, followed by Mortensen. Ivey was 8th in chips.
7Phil Ivey scooped a pot early against Carlos Mortensen, slowly moving up in the chip counts. Steve Wong (right) would be the unfortunate ninth-place finisher a few minutes later, missing the official final table. (Stud games only award final-table credit to the top eight players.)
8It’s not unprecedented for players to start one WSOP tournament while they finish another one. However, in Ivey’s case, he managed to make it to Day 3 of Event #25 ($2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo) while also surviving to Day 2 of Event #27 ($5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo). During breaks in Event #25, he would literally run over to the Brasilia Room to take his seat in Event #27 and play a few hands. Unfortunately, at the time this photograph was taken, he was caught in a situation where both tournaments were on break at the same time, so he waited for action to resume with fellow pro Amnon Filippi (left).
9Phil Ivey returned to his final table, and continued chipping up. When there were five players left, they took their dinner break, and Ivey had an above-average stack. The players, clockwise from seat 1: Dutch Boyd, Carlos Mortensen, Phil Ivey, Ming Lee, and Jon “PearlJammer” Turner.
10Ming Lee (left) and Jon “PearlJammer” Turner are involved in a three-way pot during the stud portion of Event #25 ($2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo). Turner, who started the final table as the chipleader, would be eliminated in fifth place a few hands later.
11Phil Ivey (foreground, left) plays a stud hand against Carlos Mortensen (foreground, right) with four players remaining in Event #25 ($2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo). Ivey’s open cards were Jd-4d-10h-Qd, while Mortensen showed 9c-8c-10s-3s. When they received their final card (shown here), Ivey bet, and Mortensen thought for a while before he folded. After winning this pot, Ivey became the clear leader with 1.25 million in chips.
12While Ivey plays for a bracelet at the final table of Event #25, his chip stack in Event #27 ($5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo) continues to blind off without him. If Ivey doesn’t return to protect his stack in this event, it seems unlikely that he’ll reach the money — which would be a legendary feat.
13Dutch Boyd (left) was short stacked and all in on third street with split jacks against Carlos Mortensen’s split tens. Boyd caught two pair on fifth street (jacks and sixes), but Mortensen caught a third ten to dominate him with a set. Mortensen clinched the hand with a full house on sixth street (tens full of aces), and Dutch Boyd was eliminated in fourth place.
14With three players remaining in Event #25 ($2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo), former world champion Carlos Mortensen (left) was Ivey’s biggest roadblock to winning his seventh career bracelet. Here, Mortensen is studying Ivey after Ivey checked in the dark on seventh street of a stud hand. Mortensen’s board shows 8s-6h-10c-Qd to Ivey’s 5c-Qs-2d-5s.
15Carlos Mortensen (left) would check behind, and Ivey showed (6d-6s-2c) 5c-Qs-2d-5s for two pair (sixes and fives) and no qualifying low. Mortensen carefully checked Ivey’s cards before mucking, and Ivey further increased his chip lead, passing the 1.6 million mark.
16During a break in Event #25, Phil Ivey (left) returns to rebuild his stack in Event #27 ($5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo). While Popeye had his spinach, Ivey seems to draw continued strength through a hectic day from a carton of “muscle milk.” Ivey would fold his first hand back before turning to ask someone to find out exactly how long the break will last.
17When Ivey returned to Event #27 ($5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha Hi-Lo), there were 22 players left halfway through Level 14. Only 18 players would finish in the money, so Ivey needed at least a double up to get his stack large enough for a shot at making the money. Ivey currently has 69,000 in chips, about half the tournament average of 135,000. One interesting note about Ivey’s run in this event: I spoke with Day 1 chipleader J.D. Newitt, and he is certain that Ivey only played about 10 hands in the entire tournament. Ivey would briefly show up during a break in his other event, manage a double up or win a large pot, and then disappear again. If Ivey were able to cash in this event, it would be unprecedented.
18On his second hand back, Phil Ivey moved all in preflop with As-Qh-7h-5s in a three-way pot against shorter stack Stewart Yancik’s Ah-Ks-3d-2c and Senovio Ramirez’s Ac-8d-6c-4d. A triple-up here would effectively guarantee that Ivey’s stack could survive the blinds to make the money without him. But the flop came 5d-4c-2h, giving Yancik a five-high wheel straight, effectively clinching a triple up with the high and the low. Ivey would lose the side pot to Ramirez with the 8h on the turn and the 9d on the river. While it would have been historic for Ivey to cash on Day 2 of an event while playing for a bracelet on Day 3 of another, Ivey seemed somewhat relieved with the bustout. He could now focus all of his attention on the final table of Event #25.
19Back from break in Event #25 ($2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo), Carlos Mortensen (center) moves all in preflop with Ad-10c-6d-3c against Ming Lee’s (left) Ac-Kd-Ks-4d. With the Omaha board showing Qh-8d-4h-Kc on the turn, Mortensen needs a jack to win the entire pot with an ace-high straight, or any low card but an eight or a four to split the pot. Mortensen is shouting “low” as the dealer is about to put out the river card. The last card is low, but it pairs the board with the 4c — no qualifying low hands. Lee wins the pot with a full house, kings full of fours, and Carlos Mortensen is eliminated in third place.
20WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack (standing, left) shows up on his night off to watch Phil Ivey battle Ming Lee in Event #25 ($2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo). Tournament Director Robbie Thompson (center) oversees and announces the action to the standing-room-only crowd lining the rails.
21Though Bluff Media was contractually obligated to webcast the other final table taking place Saturday night (Event #24, $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em), they provided their viewers with some bonus coverage of the heads-up battle in Event #25 between Phil Ivey and Ming Lee.
22A PokerNews.com reporter is just several feet away from the table, recording the action so fans who aren’t watching the live feed can follow the match via live updates. Those who followed the updates know that Ming Lee actually took the chip lead away from Phil Ivey at one point, but Ivey quickly recovered.
23Even with chaos all around him, Phil Ivey is able to tune out all the distractions and focus on his goal — winning that bracelet. It would be his second of the Series, and the seventh of his career.
24Phil Ivey kept chipping Ming Lee down, catching cards and forcing folds until Lee was crippled and all in on third street with Jh-7s-6c against Ivey’s Qd-Qs-3c. By sixth street, Lee never improved enough to even catch up to Ivey’s pair of queens, or make a qualifying low. With one card to come (shown here), Lee would need a jack (for trips) or another pair to stay alive. But he missed his outs, and it was Ivey who caught a third queen on seventh street to win the pot — and the WSOP bracelet.
25With the final hand complete, Ming Lee is the first to congratulate Phil Ivey on his second WSOP bracelet of the Series. At 33 years old, Ivey is the youngest player in history to win his seventh career bracelet, and he ties Billy Baxter for sixth place on the all-time bracelet list.
26After his victory in Event #25 ($2,500 Omaha/Seven Card Stud Hi-Lo), Ivey went to the rail to receive congratulations from his friends and a few of the fans while the bracelet and chips were set up for the winner’s photo.
27Phil Ivey is all smiles as he receives congratulations from WSOP Commissioner Jeffrey Pollack (right). Friends and fans were all taking photos, Twittering, and sending text messages about the historic evening.
28Phil Ivey is known for being a low-key guy and keeping his emotions in check, but he can’t help but smile after winning his second bracelet at the 2009 WSOP. He officially won $220,538, but this second bracelet clinched some additional prop bets for him on the side where he likely won a few million more.