Ivey reaches third final table, but falls short of ninth WSOP bracelet



Poker standout Phil Ivey made a final table at the World Series of Poker Thursday, but fell short of winning his ninth individual event championship bracelet. (Photo courtesy WSOP and PokerNews.com)

For the third time at the World Series of Poker, the player who didn’t win an event dominated the talk of the tournament.

Poker standout Phil Ivey placed third early Thursday morning in the $5,000 buy-in Omaha Hi-Low Split-8 or Better event, earning $136,046. His finish marked the third time in the past two weeks that Ivey made a final table at the World Series of Poker, but fell short of winning his ninth individual event championship bracelet.

Add in a small in-the-money finish in a No Limit Hold’em Shoot-out event, and Ivey appears ready to crack the tournament’s Player of the Year standings.

Ivey, 35, considered one the game best players, sat out last year’s World Series of Poker as a self-imposed exile to protest the U.S. government's 2011 crackdown on Internet poker.

Reportedly, Ivey spent his time playing cash games. He did appear at a tournament in Macau during the late fall.

He quietly came back to the Rio this month for the 43rd World Series of Poker and has quickly re-established his presence.

The third-place finish followed a second place showing to Andy Frankenberger of New York on Sunday in the in the $10,000 buy-in Pot Limit Hold'em event. Ivey earned $275,559.

Last Friday, Ivey placed seventh in the $5,000 buy-in Seven Card Stud Hi-Low Split-8 or Better event.

On Wednesday afternoon, Ivey entered Omaha event in first out of the remaining 27 players from the starting field of 256. He held the chip lead through two levels as the field shrunk. He lost the chip lead for a short time but regained control by the dinner break at 8 p.m. when there were eight players still competing.

However, Joe Cassidy of Las Vegas, who had briefly taken the chip lead from Ivey earlier in the evening, rallied to send Ivey to the rail and earn a spot in heads up play with Scotty Nguyen.

Cassidy and Nguyen will return to the Rio today at 2 p.m. to conclude the event with Cassidy holding a huge chip lead, 3 million to Nguyen's 845,000.

Cassidy had earned all of  $383,413 in his World Series of Poker career going into the Omaha event with 11 total in-the-money finishes. His best showing was fourth place in limit hold’em shootout in 2004.

Nguyen, on the other hand, is one of the game’s best-known players with five World Series of Poker individual event championship bracelets and more than $4.8 million in career earnings. Nguyen won the 1998 World Series of Poker Main Event and was the 2008 winner of the $50,00 buy-in Players Championship.

But the buzz still surrounded Ivey, who tried to spend 12 months out of the public glare.

Ivey was closely associated with Full Tilt Poker, one of three websites that found their access to the American market blocked by the Justice Department. Full Tilt lost its European gaming license and has since gone out of business.

Meanwhile, prosecutors said several well-known poker players, including Howard Lederer and former World Series of Poker champion Chris “Jesus” Ferguson, were alleged to have unlawfully profited from the website.

Ivey was never charged, but his name was linked to Full Tilt’s troubles.

Last year, Ivey’s divorce became highly publicized in when he and his representatives were accused of making campaign contributions to the Las Vegas judge handling the case in exchange for favorable treatment. The Nevada Supreme Court scheduled the matter for a hearing this year.