Sazzy and I spent some time Thursday at the World Series of Poker and were able to catch a little piece of history. The Godfather of WSOP, Jack Binion, awarded Phil Ivey his eighth gold bracelet. Not bad for a 33-year-old poker pro.
It’s one thing to win a gold bracelet, it’s another to have it presented to you by the man who made WSOP what it is. Jack Binion. Jack and his father, Benny Binion, are the men credited for creating the championship game and making it the premier event in the world of poker back in 1970.
It was also kind of strange to see Jack up there with Phil. Two men from two different eras of the same game. One, Jack Binion, is the man who created the event, nurtured its growth, and protected it as it grew. Only to have his sister screw it all up and literally give it away to some big, impersonal corporation.
In 1998, Jack Binion sold 99% of his shares to his sister, sister Becky Binion Behnen. He kept the 1% in order to keep his Nevada gaming license. In 2004, Becky sold it all to Harrahs Entertainment. Now known as Caesars Entertainment.
The other is a man who is barely in his prime and who has spent most of his WSOP career with it in the new owner’s hands.
Jack is not one for fancy pomp and circumstances. the presentation was over and he immediately left the stage and headed for the exit. However, I did catch him on his way out and saw that Binion’s magic was at play.
He walked out of the main corridor, stopping to say hello to anyone who asked. He also made a point to stop and say hello to all the vendors along the way. The people who are helping to make this an enjoyable event for the fans and players. That’s the magic that is now missing in the game. That personal touch that the Binions were famous for.
Phil Ivey was the winner of the $3,000 buy-in H.O.R.S.E. championship on Wednesday. From the sounds of it, this was a dramatic win for Ivey and marks his eighth career WSOP gold bracelet victory. That locks Ivey into a tie with Erik Seidel for fifth place on the all-time WSOP wins list.
Phil Ivey also becomes the youngest player in WSOP history ever to reach such a lofty plateau. This puts him on the same page as the game masters Phil Hellmuth, Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, and the late Johnny Moss. A nice place to be sitting.
Listening to him talk, Phil Ivey shows absolutely no signs of slowing down and remains hungry to win a few more. And that begged the question from the media. if you can make more money playing cash games, why are you here at WSOP?
His answer was one of pride and honor. To him, the WSOP has made him what he is. He wouldn’t be where he is today if it wasn’t for the years he played in the WSOP and the skill she learned in the tournaments.
It is where he got fame, money, and sharp skills. So he plays it because this is where he belongs right now. As always, it’s not about the money, it’s about the honor of saying, “I won a gold bracelet.”
I can see Phil back at the final table. One of the November Nine….