Some of you may be familiar with the games that have gone on between billionaire banker Andy Beal and some of the top poker players in the world in Las Vegas. There is a book out about them now called The Professor, the Banker and the Suicide King, by Michael Craig. The professor refers to Howard Lederer, one of the world’s great poker players, the banker is Andy Beal, a billionaire wunderkind and math genius, and the suicide king, of course, refers to the card in the deck. The games began in 2001, when Beal showed up at the Bellagio and challenged the best pros in the world to play heads up against him (one at a time, one on one, with the pros rotating) at limit hold em with the bets ranging from 20,000/40,000 to as high as 100,000/200,000.
The pros pooled their money into a shared bankroll to be able to afford the game. At various times, the pros, referred to as “the corporation”, consisted of some combination of Lederer, Johnny Chan, Barry Greenstein, Jennifer Harmon, Chau Giang, Doyle Brunson, Todd Brunson, Phil Ivey, David Grey, Minh Ly, Ted Forrest and a few others. The book was finished last year, but the game apparently continued a few months ago at the Wynn casino with the stakes at 50,000/100,000. The game took place on and off from February 1st to the 23rd, and in the first couple weeks, Beal actually won $10 million from the pros – their entire bankroll for the game. Yes, he actually busted them, playing primarily against Ted Forrest, Todd Brunson and Jennifer Harmon.
On Feb 19th or 20th, however, the pros came back with another $10 million and put Phil Ivey into the game. Ivey had played very little against Beal, only a couple days back in 2004. They started out playing 30,000/60,000. The first day they played, Ivey won $2 million from Beal. The second day, at the same stakes, Ivey won $4.6 million from him. The third day the stakes were increased to 50/100K and Ivey won $10 million, after which Beal announced he was done with poker.
Folks, there’s a reason why Ivey is widely considered to be the best poker player in the world right now. On last week’s WSOP broadcast, they asked a bunch of the top pros how they would construct the world’s best player. People responded with “the poker face of this person, the discipline of that person, the daring of this person” and so forth. Howard Lederer simply replied, “Phil Ivey.” I haven’t even read Craig’s book about the first set of games and I’m already hoping for a follow up on the February games. If only the TV cameras were there for that one…