Wednesday, June 1, 2011 | 11:45 a.m.
The world’s best poker player will not play in the World Series of Poker this summer.
In an unexpected move, Phil Ivey announced through his Facebook account and eventually his website that he would not play in any of the WSOP’s 58 events. Ivey said he wouldn’t appear at the Rio until Full Tilt Poker, his former sponsor, reimbursed players for their funds that were frozen when the Department of Justice shut the site down in April.
“I am not playing in the World Series of Poker as I do not believe it is fair that I compete when others cannot,” Ivey said in a statement on his website. “I am doing everything I can to seek a solution to the problem as quickly as possible.”
Ivey indicated in the statement that he had filed a lawsuit against Tiltware, the owners of Full Tilt Poker, and would stop at nothing to get answers for the poker community.
“I wholeheartedly refuse to accept non-acting as to repayment of players funds and I am angered that people who have supported me throughout my career have been treated so poorly,” Ivey said.
The World Series of Poker without Ivey is akin to Wimbledon without Rafael Nadal or the Masters without Tiger Woods in his prime. Ivey is the star who commands the most attention after all his previous accomplishments.
The 35-year old Las Vegas resident has won eight World Series of Poker bracelets, including three in the last two years. He also made the 2009 Main Event final table before finishing in seventh.
When Ivey didn’t show up at the series’ first open event Tuesday afternoon, the $25,000 heads-up no-limit hold’em championship, not much was made of his absence. Most assumed Ivey had just decided to start his WSOP schedule later this year.
It wasn’t until Ivey took to his facebook that the reality of one of the foremost faces of poker not being around for the game’s premier event set in.
“For many years, I have been proud to call myself a poker player,” Ivey said. “This great sport has taken me to places I only imagined going and I have been blessed with much success.”
“I will, as I have for the last six weeks, dedicate the entirety of my time and efforts to finding a solution for those who have been wronged by the painfully slow process of repayment.”