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Ivey Courtside

NBA courtside tickets are hard to come by. NBA Playoff tickets are VERY hard to come by. LAKERS NBA Playoff tickets are impossible to come by, unless you’re Jack Nicholson, Ari Gold … or Phil Ivey.

In Wednesday’s Lakers/Jazz game, the TV coverage cut to a little soundbyte of Kobe talking about the pressure of winning and not giving up home field advantage – “I love the pressure, kinda like poker, it’s like having a pair of twos and bluffing… but we got more than twos.” Some interesting meta-game theory there by Kobe; although I guess it would depend on what his M and effective stack sizes were really.

Anyway, right when they cut back to the game, the camera falls directly on none other than, Phillip Horatio Ivey (sending a text message at the time, or at least that’s what it looked like). At first I only saw the guy sitting to Phil’s left, who I originally thought was Billy Baxter. Later in the game, I got a closer look and I’m fairly sure that it was David Chesnoff, a big time Vegas/LA attourney, who has represented the likes of Mike Tyson, Suge Knight, and…David Copperfield (sing: One of These Things is Not Like the Other).

It’s very possible, and in fact likely, that David and Phil know one another. David, a recreational poker player (with a lot of money), has competed in numerous WSOP events, as well as the NBC Heads-Up Championship. While Phil plays in some of the bigger LA cash games, along with Lakers owner Jerry Buss (another recreational player with a lot of money), and I suspect Chesnoff may be part of the same game (which kinda makes me sick…my sister could probably take down that game). It is also very possible that Chesnoff works with Buss, or the Lakers organization in some way.

Now, it would be wrong to assume that Phil definitely had money on the game…but come on, he did. Phil’s behavior during the game did make it difficult to determine who he was actually rooting for (or betting on). At one point, however, Ivey was seen standing up and screaming at one official after a foul had been called on Lakers center, Pau Gasol, and, according to the commentators, Phil even wandered onto the court “gesturing with his hands.” All this would suggest that Phil was rooting for the Lakers.

However, in this photo:

it seems that the entire Staples Center is cheering and Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams seem displeased, which would lead one to think that something good just happened for the Lakers. BUT, Ivey is literally the only person in the crowd not standing, suggesting that Phil was rooting for (or had money on) the Jazz, which is a direct contradiction to him arguing the foul call on Gasol.

The only other explanation is that Phil is just vehemently protesting the performance of the YMCA dance – a theory that is

furthered by Carlos Boozer clearly making an “A” with his hands (while Deron Williams seems to be trying a new take on the “M” approach).

The cameras cut to Ivey quite a few times, especially considering that most people probably don’t know who he is. Most of the time he seemed to be text messaging, or possibly playing “Brick Breaker,” on his BlackBerry. So, apart from the “screaming at officials” part, Phil basically acted like he does at any poker tournament – bored, distracted, and generally disgusted to have to be there.

Pay Up, Chuck

Steve Wynn wants his money, and he wants it now. On Wednesday of this past week, The Wynn Casino filed a complaint to a Nevada state court alleging that former NBA superstar Charles Barkley owes a $400,000 marker from bet(s) made in October at the casino. Charles says the debt is from a Super Bowl bet, but does acknowledge that the claim is correct. Barkley told an Alabama radio station, as well as some reporters at a golf tournament, that he’s definitely not broke, plans to pay the debt back very soon, and although he takes full responsibility for the debt, also said, “All they had to do is call and say, ‘Hey, you owe us this money.'” In the Wynn’s complaint, however, they allege otherwise – “To date, and despite repeated demands, Barkley has refused to repay the $400,000.” (COURTROOM DOC).

Barkley, a well-known gambler, told ESPN in May 2006 that he’s lost about $10 million in gambling over the years. Last year, Barkley challenged then sixty-seven year-old NBA referee, Dick Bavetta, to a three and a half court sprint for $50,000, with the winnings going to charity. Barkley narrowly won the race. When presented with the money, he told the cameras, “We’re gonna give a ton of money …(pauses to actually look at the amount on the check) … we’re giving two blackjack hands to charity.” (YOUTUBE VID).

Charles doesn’t try to keep his gambling a secret and is very open about it in interviews. His take on chunking off incomparable amounts of money on gambling is that, as long as he has enough money to fund his gambling, and it doesn’t affect his lifestyle, then who is it really hurting. Charles told ESPN in the same May ’06 interview, “Do I have a gambling problem? Yeah, I do have a gambling problem. But I don’t consider it a problem because I can afford to gamble.”

“Only bring what you can afford to lose,” they say. Apparently, in Barkley’s case, he can afford to lose the Gross National Product of a country called “Tokelau.” If I were him, I would pool together with Jordan and pony up the $90 million for the Cook Islands, which looks like the best value on the list to me (and I feel bad for the poor sap that overpays the $4.4 billion for Armenia, that’s such a sucker’s bet)