Dispatches from the Creation Wars

Unbelievable Poker Game

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…

Comments

  1. #1 Matthew
    July 28, 2006

    Has Ivey won any big poker tournaments though?

  2. #2 carpundit
    July 28, 2006

    That’s a good story, and I’ll look for the book.

    Am I the only one who finds something a little unseemly there? Rich guys tossing clay $100,000 chips into a pile for sport, when there’s so much good that could be done with just one chip?

    For all I know, those guys give away a fortune every year. I don’t mean to disparage them. Or to disparage poker, which I play. It’s just that the dollar amounts of those games were so high, it struck a chord. As is obvious from this comment, I’m not sure what chord it struck, but it was something.

    CP

  3. #3 Pokerwolf
    July 28, 2006

    Actually, Ed, Michael has stated that the identify of the Suicide King is Ted Forrest. Michael’s blog is absolutely AMAZING. Go read about the shenanigans that he’s dealing with involving the Media Event.

  4. #4 Ed Brayton
    July 28, 2006

    Matthew wrote:

    Has Ivey won any big poker tournaments though?

    At only 29 years old, he already has five World Series of Poker bracelets and cashed 24 times, putting him halfway to the all time record in both categories in a mere 7 years. He’s made 6 World Poker Tour final tables. He won the Monte Carlo Millions tournament, then turned around a few days later and won an invitation only tournament against 8 of the top players in the world. He also already has two final tables at this year’s World Series. And in the last 4 years of the main event, he’s finished no worse than 37th, with 3 finishes in the top 25, in fields that have gone from 800 to 8000. There are few players who wouldn’t switch places with him in terms of tournament record in a millisecond.

    carpundit wrote:

    Am I the only one who finds something a little unseemly there? Rich guys tossing clay $100,000 chips into a pile for sport, when there’s so much good that could be done with just one chip?

    For all I know, those guys give away a fortune every year. I don’t mean to disparage them. Or to disparage poker, which I play. It’s just that the dollar amounts of those games were so high, it struck a chord. As is obvious from this comment, I’m not sure what chord it struck, but it was something.

    Well, a lot of the top players are extremely generous. Barry Greenstein is famously called the Robin Hood of poker because he donates all of his tournament winnings to charity, which was over a million dollars last year. Phil Gordon and Rafe Furst have organized the Put a Bad Beat on Cancer charity and raised hundreds of thousands, probably millions by now, of dollars for cancer research from their fellow poker players (in big tournaments, players agree to donate 1% of their winnings to the charity). And many of the top players, like Clonie Gowen, spend a lot of their time acting as hosts for big charity poker tournaments and events. So while the amounts of money they gamble are extraordinary, I think most of them do their part.

    Pokerwolf wrote:

    Actually, Ed, Michael has stated that the identify of the Suicide King is Ted Forrest. Michael’s blog is absolutely AMAZING. Go read about the shenanigans that he’s dealing with involving the Media Event.

    Ah, I had heard him say in interviews that the suicide king was just a reference to the king of hearts, but that link you gave explains why. Thanks for the information.

  5. #5 Dave S.
    July 28, 2006

    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.”

    Before the seminal Nottingham 1936 chess tournament, each player was asked who would win. Chess players being as they are, most rated their own chances as best. But then they were asked who would come in 2nd…almost to man they pointed to the youngster Mikhial Botivinnik, at that time a rising star in Russia, later to become 3-times World Champ. Another anecdote concerns one of the players, Salo Flohr, who was complaining that when the other players beat him, it’s only because they were lucky. Just then Botvinnik walked by and Flohr said, “But him, he beats me fair and square.” I think Ivey has that level of respect amongst his peers, although my personal favourite player is still Daniel Negreanu.

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