2016: Annus horribilis for Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu?

We all know the feeling of waking up in the first few days of January and seeing a fresh opportunity before us. Each new year seems like a clean slate and a chance to push our game and bankroll to the next level, but not all years can be great ones even for the best in the world.

Here are two legends of the game who will be wishing that they had simply hibernated for the whole of 2016…


Phil Ivey

Phil Ivey in live tournaments: one single cash

Ivey’s trip to Manila in early 2016 saw him kick his year off nicely, finishing 5th place in the Triton Super High Roller event for USD$656,500. He could have been the one taking home the trophy and a much bigger prize, but as is often the way in these events, Fedor Holz decided to win instead. Ivey will perhaps have been disappointed with 5th, as he’d held the chiplead in latter stages, but it wasn’t to be his tournament. Or his year, for that matter.

Many fans were anxiously awaiting Ivey’s arrival at the start of the 2016 WSOP too, but they were left waiting for a long time. Ivey only showed up to play the Main Event, which he quickly busted out of.

Online cash games: 0 hands played

While wading through what has been a turbulent year away from the tables, Phil Ivey has completely withdrawn himself from the online poker world. He did not play a single hand throughout the calendar year, which isn’t altogether surprising when you consider his online losses in 2015 stand at $3,731,000.

With the golden years of Full Tilt now a distant memory, it is unknown when, or if Ivey will return to the virtual felt, or even how competitive he will be after a year away.

Lawsuits: casinos 2 – Ivey 0

While Ivey may not have enjoyed a profitable year online in 2015, his losses are nothing compared to the winnings withheld and payments set to be repaid to live casinos in the ‘edge sorting’ saga.

Having used the technique of identifying tiny imperfections on the edges of playing cards to win himself in the region of $12.5 million from Crockfords Casino and $10.1 million from Borgata Casino, Ivey was taken to court by both parties. He subsequently lost, meaning that he will not see a cent of his $12.5 million win which was withheld, and must repay the $10.1 million to Borgata.

More: The Day That Phil Ivey Won £7.8m From Crockfords Casino

Live cash games: Ivey’s main focus in 2016

While we can never know exactly what is being won or lost in the biggest live cash games, we can say with certainty that Ivey has been focussing most of his attention on these games in 2016.

Winfred Yu explained that Ivey has been seated in the biggest games at Solaire Casino in Manila this year: “The biggest game was a 20K HKD Ante Only (US$ 2,560). The game was built around the Chinese VIP. The hosts of the game were “The Chairman” and professional participants included Richard Yong, Tom Dwan, Phil Ivey, Andrew Robl, and Jean Robert Ballande.”

More: An exclusive insight into the world’s biggest game with Winfred Yu

In a Bellagio mixed game session with blinds being as high as $2k/$4k and abundant side bet action going on, Ivey was also spotted during the summer, seated with old friends Daniel Negreanu and Gus Hansen.

Ivey was expected to attend the latest installment of the Triton Super High Roller in November, but the crowd in Manila was left disappointed as he failed to show. Perhaps he’s happy to simply call it a day for 2016 and see what 2017 holds. It certainly couldn’t be any worse than this year.


Daniel Negreanu

Daniel Negreanu: shares goals but falls woefully short

The Canadian star had high hopes for 2016 and decided to put them out there on his blog, buoyed by enthusiasm for the year ahead. His goals included 3 WSOP bracelets, top 10 on the GPI and $2.5 million in live earnings.

Three swings, three misses.

He didn’t manage to win a WSOP bracelet this year, finished 111th on the GPI standings, and didn’t hit a single six-figure score all year. He did collect 9 cashes at the WSOP however, and came close to a bracelet with 4th place in a Razz event.

It is important to note that while Negreanu has stalled this year, Erik Seidel has been consistently doing well on the Super High Roller circuit, and has closed the gap on Negreanu in the all-time money list. He is now only $2 million behind.

Online results

Negreanu’s online action for 2016 could be described as somewhere between the unpleasant and the non-existent. He only played 257 hands all year, but lost $131,057.

Every cloud has a silver lining though, and Negreanu’s silver came in the form of gold as he won a WCOOP title, defeating Isildur1 heads up in the $2,100 HORSE.

Controversy away from the tables

The ambassadorial role Negreanu has occupied for PokerStars over the years has seemed more of a burden than a blessing for him in 2016, with players up in arms about changes made by incoming owners, Amaya. Negreanu has tried to defend his sponsor as best he can, but has been vilified by many players, largely due to his attempts to convince the poker community that rake increases are a positive way forward.

The U.S elections brought further turmoil for the Canadian, as he openly supported Clinton on Twitter and got involved in several heated arguments with Trump supporters. At one point, he even fired a very personal insult in Mike Matusow’s direction, causing a torrent of comments from fans stating that they had lost respect for Negreanu.


It was also reported that he had bets on Clinton to win the election, making the surprise result even more painful for him.

It is fair to say that Ivey and Negreanu have had forgettable years at the felt, and away from it. This can never detract from the fact that both are superstars of the poker world however, and the odd bad year will never change their place in history. You can be sure that as poker pros with around 20 years spent in the game, they certainly won’t be unfamiliar with ups and downs, and will likely come back stronger in 2017.

Article by Craig Bradshaw