He’s back. After spending much of the last few years out of the poker spotlight, Phil Ivey made a statement over the past five days by beating some of the world’s best poker players on his way to earning the inaugural World Poker Tour Heads Up Poker Championship title and $400,000.
The $25,000 buy-in event was played online via PokerKing, though most of the 32 invitees were at a resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and played each face-to-face. The field included a number of the top players in the world, high stakes regulars, along with a selection of influencers and streamers from outside of poker.
In the opening round, Ivey came back from losing the opening match in the best-of-three format to defeat Manig Loeser 2-1. He then made quick work of former WPT Player of the Year Anthony Zinno, winning 2-0 to advance to the round of eight against Stephen Chidwick.
Once again, Ivey failed to win the first match and needed to win back-to-back matches to defeat Chidwick to make his way to the semi-final round where Chris Kruk was waiting for him. Kruk defeated Ivey in the opening round and once again, Ivey came back to take the match and advance to the finals and a match-up with Antonius.
Antonius had advanced to the finals by defeating Japanese pop star Gakuto ‘Gackt’ Oshiro, Doug Polk, and Stefan Burkov, before dispatching Sam Greenwood in the semi-finals.
After using the best-of-three format throughout the opening rounds, the finals were a best-of-five with levels last 11 hands instead of the previous eight. Ivey didn’t need all five matches. He didn’t even need four. Ivey swept Antonius 3-0 in the final to win the $400,000 first-place prize.
Antonius earned $200,000 as the runner-up, while Kruk and Greenwood each had to settle for $100,000 for finishing in third place.
Despite being labeled a World Poker Tour event, this victory will not allow Ivey to have his name added to the Mike Sexton WPT Champions Cup for a second time. Ivey’s only WPT Main Tour title came in 2008 when he won the L.A. Poker Classic.
WPT Heads Up Poker Championship Payouts
1. Phil Ivey – $400,000
2. Patrik Antonius – $200,000
3. Chris Kruk – $100,000
3. Sam Greenwood – $100,000