The big draw of Ivey League is naturally Phil Ivey himself--one of the most recognized and respected by poker fans and aficionados alike.

Phil Ivey’s highly-anticipated Ivey League training site has finally launched. In such a saturated niche, will the name of Phil Ivey be enough for the new site to carve out its own share?

To find out, pokerfuse trialled the new product, checked out Ivey’s first vids, and quizzed Aaron Jones, previous owner and coach at LeggoPoker and now content manager at Ivey League, as to their strategy and plans.

Solid Beginnings

Thanks to its acquisition of the existing LeggoPoker, the site already contains a full back catalog of videos, so new subscribers will have more than enough to get started with. The first few videos made by his Team Ivey Pros are also live, with more planned every week.

The big draw of Ivey League is naturally Phil Ivey himself—one of the most recognized and respected players by poker fans and aficionados alike.

“Phil Ivey is the best poker player in the world,” the site boldly claims. “His vision was to assemble a team of professional poker players to teach the world to win at poker. Ivey League makes that vision a reality.”

On the surface, plans for the site follow much the same as incumbent video training sites like Deuces Cracked, Cardrunners, Bluefire Poker and Run it Once: The site promises new videos every week, and there is a members forum to discuss strategy. A podcast is also planned for the future. But it is Phil Ivey that could be the real differentiator.

Inside the Mind of Phil Ivey

For the first time, the poker playing public gets to learn from the man himself—get some insight into how Ivey thinks about poker, and watch as he breaks down hands with some of the best poker coaches.

One of the first videos, which has Phil Ivey reviewing high stakes PLO hands with Cole South, shows how successful the format can be. From watching the video the audience notices immediately that Ivey is constantly seeking information about the villains in the hands. He responds to South’s questions, often raising questions of his own.

Ivey is at ease as he explores situations. He building ranges in his head as he probes South to find out how he would play hands differently with different cards in his hand, and different cards on the turn and on the river. While admitting to not knowing all of the mathematically correct decisions, it is clear his level of thinking—from identifying his exploitative tendencies, to his awareness of how his play will likely impact future actions—shines through.

Subscription Levels

Taking a leaf out of Phil Galfond’s RunItOnce, which launched last year with an innovative pricing model, Ivey League offers three different subscription tiers.

The Undergraduate level is free, and there will be instructional content—but do not expect any videos from Phil Ivey. Instead, there will be content aimed at providing new and recreational players with the basic skills and jargon to help them get started at the poker table.

For $9 per month—the “Bachelors tier”—players will get four new videos a month, which promises to cover everything needed to progress through the stake levels in tournaments and cash games, including non-Hold’em games.

But it is at the top “Masters” level where the high stakes experts like Cole “cts” South, Phil Ivey and Patrik Antonius will be posting videos. For $75 a month subscribers will get access to all the videos at the lower tiers, plus additional content from “big name” pros.

The Backend and Plans

Everything on the site has been built from scratch, including the forums and search feature.

“We’re very proud of the search feature, which will enable players to focus on one aspect of their game,” Aaron Jones told pokerfuse. Players can filter videos by coach, subscription level, game type, format, stakes, video type and search by keyword.

Building on the Leggopoker legacy videos, Ivey League plans to release a full range of training resources, including “solo player, hand history reviews, PowerPoint and concept/math-type videos,” Jones said.

As the former lead at Leggopoker, Jones is fully aware of the difficulty of getting a regular supply of videos from multi-millionaire high stakes poker professionals.

“Making three videos a month used to be exhausting, I’m now hoping to get down to one or two.” He laughed at the suggestion that it would be like “herding cats,” but pointed out that the large number of coaches Ivey has assembled would make the job easier.

Competition

The new pricing structure and video schedule differs from the classic approach, which normally charges a flat $25-$35 monthly rate for videos, usually releasing at least one new video each day. Instead, Ivey League has a lower tier at just a third of this price point, but with fewer videos. The upper tier is two to three times the cost.

Its closest competitor is RunItOnce, both in terms of “big-name” video creators and pricing structure. It may be that players playing at the level where they can benefit from such videos will happily pay for both subscriptions.

One of the criticisms levelled at training sites is that they may showcase great poker players, but are not professional at the “training” part of their mission. Jones pointed out how rare it was to find poker players who could make good videos. Players need to speak clearly while playing and be able to explain to an audience the theory and strategy behind what they just saw. Jones identified Chris “Apotheosis” Kruk as being one of the best.

Some criticisms have been levelled publicly at the quality of the content at launch, but this seems premature: Building sufficient high quality content is not an easy task. The availability of the Leggo videos should give the Ivey League a head start in this regard: Players need to part with only $9 a month to access this content, and know that new videos will build into a valuable resource over time.

Ivey League coach Frank1The1Tank summed up the approach in a post on 2+2: “The idea is for this to appeal to poker players of every level. Remember the 'Ivey’ brand draws the masses in, as opposed to competitors who may only focus on high level content.”

Back in 2007, Aaron coined his own poker theorem, the “aejones theorem: No one ever has anything.” His role now will be to ensure that Ivey League Masters subscribers always have something.

What video does Jones suggest we watch first? “Anything by me.” Naturally.