Phil Ivey video interview: “When you’ve played so much, it’s difficult to get a huge thrill”

The latest in the new series of Paul Phua Poker School videos is a revealing interview with a true poker great, Phil Ivey. Paul Phua, who talks with him in the video, picks out the highlights

Phil Ivey, the subject of this new Paul Phua Poker School video interview, is definitely one of the all-time poker greats. He has ten World Series of Poker bracelets to his name, having won the first when he was just 23. He has more than $20 million in live tournament earnings, even though he spends most of his time playing cash at high stakes. His famously intimidating stare has become almost a brand in its own right, even though when you get to know Phil Ivey, as you will see from this video, he is actually warm and funny.

This interview was conducted in Manila in February, during the Triton Super High Roller Series, but it seems especially interesting now, since it was announced this week that Phil Ivey will no longer be making videos for his Ivey League site.
And one of the things that strikes me about this interview is an irony that will not be lost on long-term players. When you first start playing, the adrenaline is incredible. If you dare make a bluff you think other players will actually see your shirt moving up and down, as your heart is beating so hard. That’s partly why I used never to bluff when I first started playing!
So you learn to calm your emotions and dampen the adrenaline rush, in order to be hard to read. But does that take some of the thrill out of the game? This is what Phil Ivey has to say in the video interview:
“When you’ve played so much and you’ve played for so many years, it’s really difficult to get a huge thrill… The actual thrill of like, ‘wow I’m betting a lot of money on it’, that’s not really there for me. I don’t really feel that. I haven’t felt that in quite some time, actually.”
Don’t make the mistake from that of thinking Phil Ivey is finished with poker! I am certain he will go on to win many more big tournaments and WSOP bracelets. Because, of course, Phil is still passionate about poker, as am I. As he says in this interview, “I don’t look at it like I’m going to work, because I love doing what I do.”
Maybe it’s just that with poker, as with so many things in life, you never quite recapture the same strong thrill of your first times, of your youth. So my advice to anyone still starting out in poker would be, “enjoy it!” Poker can be hard work, the bad beats can be upsetting, and you must study to improve. But poker is also a fantastic game: a mixture of strategy and chance, where no two hands are ever exactly the same, played against some of the brightest and most interesting people.
Phil Ivey definitely falls into that last category. I have had the pleasure of playing with – and learning from – Phil Ivey many, many times in the last few years, and we have developed both a friendship and a bond of mutual respect. He is kind enough to say in this interview, “What makes Paul Phua so amazing is that he started off playing with some of the best players in the world, and now he is playing in games constantly with the best players in the world and he’s winning in those games.”
Of course, what Phil Ivey is too modest to say outright is that he himself is one of those “best players in the world”! So enjoy this revealing video interview with one of the greats, then go and subscribe to the Paul Phua Poker School YouTube channel. There are many more videos to come in this series, including further interviews with and tips from Phil Ivey.