The Return of the GOAT. Somewhere in misty mountain tops of Montenegro, Phil Ivey and the legendary Jungleman were locked in a fierce heads-up battle. The winner would walk away with a suitcase full of cash. No matter what happened, the fact those two were heads-up were a story in itself. Of course, Ivey won and every poker writer was pumped for some dank-ass click bait. Why? Everyone loves Phil Ivey. Okay, maybe not everyone. But everyone loves a good comeback story. And who woulda thought the GOAT would be the central figure in a comeback take?
It's been a while since a positive Phil Ivey story. The GOAT returned to his former self with a victory at the 2018 Triton Super High Roller Series Montenegro, hosted at the Maestral Resort & Casino in Budva, Montenegro. Yeah, Ivey made his trip to Montenegro worth it with a score worth $605K in a short-deck poker event. Ivey came from behind to beat Jungleman too, who blew a 4-1 lead.
"Jungleman is as good as you're gonna get as an opponent," said Ivey. "I really had to concentrate."
The buy-in was HKD $250,000, or approximately $33K USD. Ivey faded a field of 61 players. First place paid out $4,749,200 in HKD, or approximately $605K in USD.
It's been a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away since "No Home" Jerome cut his teeth in Stud games in Atlantic City. And it seems like a several lifetimes ago when Phil Ivey appeared on inaugural season of the World Poker Tour and got the new nickname "Tiger Woods of Poker." During the height of the boom, Ivey was an enigma and riddle walking around Vegas in plain sight.
There's a lyric to a Phish song that goes, "Sometimes people build you up just so they can knock you down." In the last days of the disco-online poker boom, Ivey seemed untouchable. But during the post-boom hangover, everything that could go wrong... went wrong. Black Friday, Divorce, Full Tilt scandal, and then the edge sorting fiasco in Atlantic City and London. Seems like the baccarat cards scandal was the only time you heard Phil Ivey's name thrown around. Well that chapter is finally over (Ivey lost his appeal in the U.K.) and Ivey is ready to start a new chapter. A high-roller victory is the first step in the right direction.
Now that Ivey got a taste of winning again, will he return to Las Vegas and get his bracelet mojo back? How many WSOP events will Ivey play this year? And can Ivey win more than one this summer? And if Ivey snatches another piece of bling and gets his tournament dominance back on track, how much longer before he challenges Phil Hellmuth for most bracelets?
2018 Triton Super High Roller Series Montenegro
Buy-in: HKD $250,000
Prize Pool: HKD $14,347,200
Final Table Results:
1. Phil Ivey HKD 4,749,200
2. Dan Cates HKD 3,199,000
3. Gabe Patgorski HKD 1,937,000
4. Jason Koon HKD 1,334,000
5. Furkat Rakhimov HKD 918,000
6. Ivan Leow HKD 689,000
7. Alan Sass HKD 560,000
8. Wai Kin Yong HKD 488,000
9. Mikhail Smirnov HKD 473,000
Watch the highlights here...