Phil ‘Polarizing’ Ivey: Time for an Alias Change?

3 years ago
Phil ‘Polarizing’ Ivey: Time for an Alias Change?
14:55
08 Nov

Phil Ivey, the name known to anyone who has ever paid any attention to what’s happening in the poker world, is called the Tiger Woods of Poker for a reason. With ten World Series of Poker titles, just shy of $21.5 million in live tournament earnings and an unknown amount won at the live cash tables, Ivey has established himself as the most feared poker player to have ever walked the face of the Earth.

Until a couple years back, Ivey was also wreaking havoc at the high stakes online tables. Playing as a Full Tilt Pro, Ivey amassed winnings of $19,242,744 over 320k hands, according to HighStakesDB, and his graph was showing a steady and aggressive climb. Then Black Friday hit, Full Tilt went under, and many other things happened that most people reading this article are aware of.

Fast forward to December 2012 and Phil Ivey is back in action on Full Tilt. Playing under the new alias ‘Polarizing,’ Ivey returned to the biggest games offered on the Internet and it wouldn’t take long before his graph started taking a dive. From December 2012 until today, ‘Polarizing’ has lost more than $5 million on Full Tilt over 155k hands.

Conspiracy Theorists

In case you haven’t noticed, the poker world is full of conspiracy theorists, from those trying to prove how RNGs are fixed, to those believing that the poker companies are run by very evil people who want to take over the world. In the sea of these theories, there is also the one about super-users on Full Tilt prior to Black Friday.

There are a certain number of people out there fairly convinced that pre-Black Friday Full Tilt pros (at least some of them) had access to super-accounts, enabling them to see the hole cards of their opponents. We will not say that this theory is completely ludicrous, because we’ve seen it happen before, so it cannot be completely dismissed.

On the other hand, however, there is not a single shred of evidence (not a real one at least) to back up this theory. The fact that some of the pros who used to win are not winning any more is hardly proof of anything and can be caused by a number of other factors.

Run Good / Run Bad

Ask any serious online grinder and they will tell you that a couple 100k hands is not a huge sample. It is a sample for sure, but not the sort of sample that would give any definite answers, especially if those hands are spread across different game types and different levels.

Even at the smallest of stakes, a good player can experience a big swing over 100k+ hands, so the fact ‘Polarizing’ has been losing for a relatively long period of time is not very indicative one way or the other. At the stakes these guys are playing, five million is not that much money.

Someone could (rightfully) argue that the same could be said about Ivey’s winnings, as that sample is not too big either. But taking all his other results into consideration, it is more likely that Phil Ivey is a winning online player who is currently running bad than the other way around.

Perhaps an alias change is in order to chase away the bad luck?

It’s a Jungle Out There

And when we say Jungle, we are not referring to Daniel Cates (who is, by the way, up more than $10 million since 2009, according to HighStakesDB, over 391k hands). The level of play across the stakes has increased dramatically and there is no doubt that the best of the best put in some hours working on their game as well. After all, the amounts they play for more than warrant it.

There aren't as many rich fish ready to give up their money to the pros, so the situation now is that a lot of pros are battling over occasional amateurs, and other than that, they play each other in what could possibly be a zero sum game for many of them in the long run.


Despite not having such a great time online, there is still no doubt in anybody’s mind that Phil Ivey is one of the best (if not the best) poker players alive. This alone tells heaps, as not even the five million loss can shake Ivey’s position at the top and is further testimony to the likelihood that there is nothing seriously wrong with his game and that he’s simply been running bad for a while.


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Ivan Potocki is the editor in chief and one of the lead news writers for PokerTube. His natural flair and enthusiasm for journalism combined with a deep poker knowledge make him an exciting contributor for PokerTube.The experience garnered playing poker professionally for several years and the knowl...Read more

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