There are few people in the poker world more enigmatic than Phil Ivey, but the poker phenom opened up a bit about his life and journey in a recent interview on the Poker Life Podcast. The 10-time bracelet winner is widely seen as one of the best players ever to sit down at a poker table, but beyond what fans saw on the tables, his life off the felt has been something of a closed book for much of his career.
In the latest edition of Joey Ingram's Poker Life Podcast, Ivey goes a long way towards giving fans some insight into his life, both today and in the past. One of the biggest changes in his life today is sobriety.
“Being sober is an easier, more effective, life for me,” he told Ingram, joking that he had a long, successful relationship with alcohol, but it was time to call it quits. He added that the clearer head he has now really helps him find balance in his life.
On Helping Others
In one interesting exchange, he hinted that a major change in focus lately, perhaps tied to the sobriety, is his desire to help others. He noted that a successful poker career tends to include shutting down emotions and being stingy with your time, which takes a toll on personal relationships off the table.
In recent times, he’s realized that being generous with his time is more satisfying than generous with money, but he was a bit cagey about details. He mentioned a project that he’s working on, without going into any detail, that he says will be all about helping others. He left listeners wanting more in terms of details, but look for another appearance by Ivey in the near future to roll out a new project aimed at helping others.
Ivey weighs in on a wide-range of poker and gambling related topics in the near hour-long interview, including discussion of his early years as a young player in Atlantic City. One of the topics that came up was the times when he went broke and had to sleep rough. He said those stories were probably overblown a bit, but that he certainly slept under the Boardwalk a few times.
When Ingram asked what advice Ivey would give to players who might be in a similar spot today, he wryly replied “Don’t miss the bus”. He said most of the times he slept under the boardwalk were because he missed the last free bus from the casino.
Good Advice from a Legend
While talking about some big pots where he was bluffed off winning hands, notably against Tom Dwan and Brad Booth, Ivey gave perhaps his best advice of the whole segment. Ingram asked him how it felt to lose huge pots, especially in spots where he felt he played them well.
As expected, Ivey had a balanced approach; “If you enjoy winning, you have to appreciate the fact that you’re going to lose sometimes.”
Near the end of the interview, Ingram tried to get Ivey to weigh in on some of his competitors over the years and talk about who gave him the most trouble, and who he thinks are strong players, “I’m not answering that,” he said with a smile, “they don’t need to know.”
That is, perhaps, the final takeaway on this interview with one of poker’s greats. While Ivey may have opened up more in this interview than he ever has before, some of the mystery still remains. Ivey has opened the book on his life more than ever, but even now, there are still things “they don’t need to know.”