Phil Ivey’s Poker Tournament Strategy

Phil Ivey Is A Feared Opponent At The Highest Levels, I Break Down Key Elements Of His Poker Tournament Strategy Here.

Phil Ivey is considered by many the best poker player in the world. His all round play is almost flawless. Phil has stacked up millions in earnings in poker tournaments and cash games. He has seemed to have cracked the game of poker but what makes Phil Ivey’s tournament strategy so successful?

Aggression: Phil is an aggressive tournament player; he will raise a lot pre-flop which means you do can not put him on a specific range. This aggression allows him to command the game play in a lot of pots. The reason he can afford to raise all the time pre-flop is because he have very good post flop play. Phil seems to know where he is in every pot. You will notice that when he is faced with aggression back he will back down quite quickly.

Low Risk: What makes any poker tournament player successful including Phil Ivey is their ability to play smaller pots and generally not risk their stack. If a poker player gets into two 50 / 50 flips for their tournament life early on they are statistically going to lose their stack one of the two times. The secret to Phil Ivey’s tournament play is to not risk his whole stack unless he is a big favourite. Taking down the small pots that no-one wants with aggression is a great way to build a stack gradually with relatively low risk.

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Phil’s Reads: Phil Ivey has some of the best reads in the game. A lot of players actually say that when you start to play Phil many opponents have an edge initially. However what makes Phil a great poker player is his ability to work people out. He can tear apart a poker player’s game and exploit it. Many professionals who play Phil win at the beginning but get beaten in the end.

One hand that comes to mind when it comes to Phil Ivey’s incredible ability to read hands is a spot where Phil was playing Paul Jackson heads up for a 400k difference in prize money. Jackson is on the button and calls but Ivey raises it up with Qh8h , Paul calls with 6s5d. The flop comes out 7cJcJh and Ivey leads out with a raise, Paul then re-raises him. Ivey is holding absolutely nothing but opts to re-raise Jackson’s re-raise, Jackson is shocked and thinks for a minute. Amazingly Paul opts to re-raise again. By all accounts this pot should be over and Ivey pauses to think for a good few minutes. Amazingly Ivey pushes all in and Jackson is forced to fold.

The hand above really demonstrates how Ivey can tell exactly where he is in the hand. Phil uses a combination of body language reads and betting tells to put his opponents on a very accurate range. Though this example might be one of Phil’s greatest plays, he makes great reads all the time.

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