Editor's note: A replay of Phil Ivey's victory is available on ESPN3.
The debate about who's No. 1 in poker can once again be put to rest. Phil Ivey continued to solidify his legacy by capturing his ninth WSOP bracelet Wednesday by defeating a talented field in the mixed games event at the WSOP Asia Pacific. His victory in the 2,200 Australian dollar buy-in event ($2,315) was his 50th career WSOP cash and places him in a tie with Johnny Moss for fourth on the all-time WSOP bracelet list.
"I definitely wanted to win this event, especially when I got deep and realized I had a chance, because my last five final tables were very tough," said Ivey to the WSOP. "It took a lot out of me, and I was happy to have the chance to finish this one."
The field of 81 navigated through the eight-game rotation (no-limit hold 'em, seven-card stud, Omaha eight-or-better, razz, pot-limit Omaha, limit hold 'em, seven-card stud eight-or-better and 2-7 triple draw) during the first two days to create a six-handed final table that was broadcast Tuesday night on ESPN3. Headlined by Ivey and Daniel Negreanu, the final six also included WSOP bracelet winner Kevin Song, tournament veterans Brandon Wong and Graeme Putt and 2013 Aussie Millions mixed-game champion Rob Campbell.
Ivey entered the final table with the chip lead and the title of "superhero" as stated during introductions by tournament director Jack Effel. After only 30 minutes of play and a few hands into the pot-limit Omaha rotation, Wong eliminated Song with a straight to his opponent's two pair. Song's small payday was his 29th career WSOP cash and ninth final table. His bracelet victory came in 1997.
Only 14 hands later in seven-card stud eight-or-better, Wong knocked out his second opponent at the final table, Campbell. His third victim came in pot-limit Omaha as Negreanu, who started the final table in second and built his stack early, couldn't hit his draws in perhaps the biggest hand at the final table at that point. Negreanu, holding Qc-9c-5h-6h, called all-in after a turned board of Ac-10c-4h-7s. Hoping to hit his straight or flush draw, Negreanu watched as Wong showed As-Kc-Qs-10 for two pair. Despite all the outs, Negreanu's tournament came to an end with the 4d on the river. He earned AU$16,336 in his 60th career WSOP cash.
By this point at the final table, it was clear that an Ivey versus Wong heads-up battle was inevitable. Wong eliminated Putt in seven-card stud and held a slight lead over Ivey (256,000 in chips to 230,000) to start what would be an incredible battle for the bracelet. For the next three hours and 178 hands, Ivey and Wong traded the chip lead as the games rotated through, with each finding momentum in different variants. Wong pulled out to nearly a 4:1 lead at one point, and it seemed that Ivey would record his second runner-up finish at a WSOP final table in less than a year.
Ivey's comeback from that deficit was quick and seemed to be irrelevant of the variation. He started his recovery in 2-7 triple draw and pulled nearly even in no-limit hold 'em. He won every hand during the Omaha eight-or-better rotation, and in razz it was more of the same. Out of nowhere, Ivey was in the lead. Wong battled back, and stacks were essentially even during the next set of no-limit hold 'em hands, but Ivey continued to have the edge in the majority of the other games. The final turning point came in limit hold 'em when Ivey once again won every hand, including one that was worth nearly half the chips in play.
Wong was short and needed to go with any hand that had potential during the 2-7 triple draw rotation. He failed to hit on his draws when he put his stack in the center, and Ivey emerged with a smile as he collected his ninth WSOP bracelet from executive director of the WSOP Ty Stewart.
While Ivey's victory will headline the event, Wong's effort was truly incredible. The California native has 21 career WSOP cashes and a disappointing two runner-up finishes.
Of Ivey's nine victories, zero have come in no-limit hold 'em. No matter the variant, he has a specific goal in mind.
"As I've gotten older, I've started to think about my place in poker history and where I'm going to stand, so it is important to me to win these bracelets," said Ivey. "I'm trying to catch Phil [Hellmuth]. It's tough; he keeps winning them, but I'm looking forward to the summer."
Below are the complete results of WSOP-APAC Event 3:
Event 3: Eight-game Mixed
Buy-in: 2,200 Australian Dollars
Prize pool: AU$162,000
Players in the money: 9
1 Phil Ivey (AU$51,840)
2 Brandon Wong ($32,039)
3 Graeme Putt ($22,427)
4 Daniel Negreanu ($16,336)
5 Rob Campbell ($12,020)
6 Kevin Song ($8,978)
7 Sam Khouiss ($7,200)
8 Bill Argyros ($6,002)
9 Dale Townsend ($5,158)