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August 1, 2014

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Phil Ivey among thousands of hopefuls returning for Day 2B of WSOP Main Event

Current WSOP Player of the Year down to 11,500 chips

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Steve Marcus

Phil Ivey Jr. competes during the opening day of the World Series of Poker $50,000 Poker Players Championship tournament at the Rio Sunday, June 24, 2012.

In recent years at the World Series of Poker, the player who has gotten the most attention during preliminary tournaments has validated the success with a deep run in the Main Event.

Ben Lamb won his first bracelet and made two other final tables last year before advancing to the November Nine final table. In 2010, Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi pulled off the same feat.

Phil Ivey was the highlight of 2009 as the man considered the world’s best poker player won two bracelets before making the Main Event’s final table. Ivey has returned to that role again this year.

With five final tables, he leads the WSOP Player of the Year race. Ivey hopes this year keeps mirroring 2009 as he continues his chase for Main Event glory in his second day of play Wednesday.

“I want to win every tournament I enter,” Ivey told WSOP.com. “That’s the bottom line. I mean, when I sit down I’m trying to win and when I don’t I’m disappointed. It’s just the way I am.”

Down to 11,500 chips from a starting stack of 30,000, Ivey will need to win a few big pots early to keep his Main Event dreams alive during Day 2B. He’s only one of a couple thousand players who will return to the Rio with hopes of lasting all the way until next Monday when this year’s final table emerges.

But the aura surrounding Ivey is unlike anyone else’s in the building. The buzz of his dominance has even expanded this year after he sat out all of the 2011 WSOP.

Finding someone not amazed with his comeback year would be a chore.

“Making five final tables is running hot,” poker pro Brian Rast said earlier in the summer, “but if there’s one most likely person to do it, it’s him.”

As much as Ivey is the talk of this year’s 2012, he’s keeping his mouth shut for the most part. The interview with the World Series of Poker was the first one he granted in nearly two years.

The 35-year-old local resident opened up on a number of topics relating to his poker career. Currently tied for fifth with eight championship bracelets, Ivey’s foremost goal remains to catch Phil Hellmuth’s record of 12.

But he wants to go way beyond that.

“If the World Series of Poker is still here, and I’m still alive, I think I will have 30 bracelets,” Ivey said. “That’s what I believe.”

That’s a figure that sounds preposterous, but one that Ivey has thrown around frequently. It would sound more unbelievable, however, coming from anyone else.

The poker community has learned not to doubt Ivey. His chip stack may be low in the Main Event, but he’s not out yet.

“I personally think him not being here last year has nothing to do with it,” Rast said. “He plays poker all the time. It’s not like he was cold because he wasn’t around here. But it’s obviously really impressive. I think he plays great. He wins all the money all the time.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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