Legends Talk: Phil Ivey’s Best Poker Quotes

 Phil Ivey’s Best Poker Quotes

It is always interesting to glean what top performers say about their particular profession. And not only because they know better. Even if the audience is not very skillful, words of wisdom of a pro legend unveil an important truth that we laypeople will probably never discover. What is even more interesting is that such quotes are much more wildly applicable. In fact, when the best players in the world talk about their profession, they talk about life in general, about priorities, success, devotion, concentration, proper mindset and the achievements resulting from all of the above.

“Ars totum ruquirit himinem” – the art requires the whole person, as ancient alchemists used to say. People who have reached the world’s pinnacle in their selected art are the people who know what full devotion really means. That is why the words of a true master, about his/her profession, are excellent food for thought. Let us see what Phil Ivey, the living poker legend, says about poker strategies (and not only about them, of course).

“I’d work on my game online and at casinos, build my bankroll, find good games and try to put myself in a position to keep winning and earn a steady income.”

It is a good general plan, sound and workable. The question is how to make it work – there are too many players trying to do the same, but only a few have achieved comparable results.

“How can you, like me, make money? Just make sure you have the best hand when the river gets there.”

That is precisely the point. Many famous people tend to formulate their incredible and inaccessible mastery in such a simple way. Like J.S. Bach once said, “You just have to press the right keys with the right force at the right time, and the organ will produce the nicest music all by itself.”

“A lot of people these days are too ambitious; their sights are set too high at the start, and they end up diving in too deep, quitting their day job too soon. They move to Vegas or wherever, make an all-or-nothing commitment before they’re ready, and burn out.”

It is a very strong observation. The ‘follow-your-dream’ generation may have this ‘everything-is-possible’ illusion, which leads to self-overconfidence, premature commitments, and early burnout. Overambitious poker players seem to be just part of a bigger problem.

“The ‘a-ha’ moment comes when you sit down against a player who others think is great. He’s been doing it for a long time and has won a lot of money. Suddenly, you realize you can play with that person. Then you see yourself beating that person. It happens and you recognize that you can do well at poker.”

Just a very good description of the moment of truth when you realize your true strength. As noted above, it has nothing to do with being “too ambitious.”

“The biggest thing when you’re playing live is that you’re sitting across from the player and can get a detailed impression of how he’s acting, and whether he’s expressing strength or weakness. Online, it’s much more about betting patterns, and you’re using a much narrower range of cues as to what he’s holding and thinking.”

Well, it’s all about poker: making prompt decisions based on bits and pieces of very limited information. Of course, this information is even more limited when you are playing online poker. And, in general, the online vs. live experience is a big dilemma of our time.


“I like it when I lose so much money I can barely breathe. That’s the feeling I go for. I’m addicted to that feeling.”

This one is extremely difficult, though possible, to verify. Lose enough money to feel like you are losing your breath and then tell us whether or not you liked it. However, for some people, nothing motivates better than a loss, or a defeat. Is Phile Ivey one-of-a-kind?

“You’ve got to take some chances and know when you’re beat and know how to get certain advantages.”

It could well be that Phil Ivey knows the secret of how to get the most out of his defeats and to make them work for forthcoming victories.

“You get your chips your way, I’ll get my chips mine.”

These words of wisdom resemble the older name of Webster Lake in Massachusetts, near the Connecticut border: Char­gogg­a­gogg­man­chaugg­a­gogg­chau­bun­a­gung­a­maugg (a long version), a  humorous translation from Algonquin language meaning, “you fish on your side, we fish on our side, and no one shall fish in the middle.”

“You don’t even know how unlucky I get sometimes.”

As we all know, poker is a game of variance, and the best professionals get the short straw sometimes, suffering from bad luck and terrible coolers, even when the odds are favorable. It is important how they handle such situations. Phil Ivey is very good at it.

“As a professional gambler, my job is to seek to lawfully reverse or reduce the perceived house edge. But it’s not in my nature to cheat and nor would I risk my reputation by acting unlawfully in any manner.”

It is another strong point, especially in the light of recent events when Phil was accused of cheating. Professionalism and cheating are incompatible. Though the judgment about cheating in case of advantage play is sometimes very tough and disagreeable, “the whole person” of Phil Ivey conveys he is not a cheater.

“It’s all about winning. I don’t get any satisfaction from second place at all.

Every tournament I enter I’m trying to win. So, when I get knocked out, it’s definitely a disappointing feeling. It takes about 10-15 minutes to recover, depending on the size of the tournament.”

First places represent only a part of an amazing poker career of Phil Ivey, which means that he gets disappointed very often. A good thing is that he only needs 10-15 minutes to fully recover.

“Sure, there are times I’m not thinking about poker. But most of the time I am thinking about poker.”

Concentration is the key to success. One needs to focus. The following quote only confirms that:

“I like to play. Anything that interrupts me I’m not too big a fan of.”

“I wouldn’t count it out, but right now I feel like my career is still just starting. The best years are yet to come.”

The words of an optimist? Or maybe the guy knows something? Or, rather, still working on something to surprise us even more? We shall see.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Posted by: admin on