So, who is the GOAT in the world of poker? This could be an exhausting debate, so it’s cool to hear from another professional poker player and see what they have to say about it.
Step forward Daniel Negreanu, the Canadian professional poker player who, in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago, declared Phil Ivey to be the best poker player to have ever played the game. But what is his reasoning for coming to this conclusion?
The King of All Poker
First of all, Negreanu feels that the greatest player ever shouldn’t be restricted to only one form of poker. Instead, they should be capable of adapting to various forms and to still be highly competitive. That is where Negreanu feels that Ivey has the edge over others. No matter if it’s Stud, Short Deck, Omaha, or any other version, you are going to find Ivey competing at the highest levels. For Negreanu, this versatility is what makes Ivey the best around as his skills and ability to read the game is second to none.
Add in that Ivey is a tough player even in those forms of the game that are less popular as that also means there’s less literature available on the actual nuances of the game. Understanding the differences between the various formats requires a significant level of personal investment of both time and mental fortitude. That in itself is something often lacking in younger players who prefer to specialize in one version.
Negreanu goes further with his explanation.
He admits that there are players out there on the No-Limit Hold’em circuit who are better players than Ivey in that format, but that’s because of one simple reason. Those players have spent a huge amount of time studying every single detail of the game. It’s as if they are seeking to become chess grandmasters and cover every aspect you could ever think of. To them, it feels that there are no other forms of poker out there.
In the opinion of Negreanu, Ivey has sought to become perhaps not the greatest individual player in an individual version but more of a general high-quality poker player across the board.
This seems to be a reasonable take on the approach that Ivey has employed. There is a huge amount of evidence of his proficiency of different forms of poker, and he has a clear understanding of each and every form. There’s no doubt he is capable of holding his own even against the major players focusing on one single game. With such an ability, it becomes obvious as to why Negreanu feels that Ivey stands out from what would be an impressive crowd.
The Stats Back it Up
Here’s an important point, the stats do appear to back up everything Negreanu is saying. Ivey has won a total of 10 World Series of Poker gold bracelets between 2000 and 2014. He has also had a total of 56 cashes from the WSOP and reached the finals table a total of 19 times. Also, it is believed that his cash game has led to him earning in excess of $100 million, which is clearly a huge amount of money.
Perhaps the most telling thing of all is that Ivey commands real, genuine respect from other players on the circuit. In addition, he has been able to do this for 2 decades and would have undoubtedly achieved more if he hadn’t had to contend with his legal action against two casinos. That was clearly a distraction for him at a time where he had to be on top of his game and an ability to focus 100%. It is widely accepted that he would have had more WSOP gold bracelets if the edge sorting scandal had never occurred.
So, what qualifications would an individual need in order to be your GOAT from the poker world? Is Negreanu accurate in his description and reasoning as to why Ivey is the best? As we said at the outset, this is a huge debate all by itself, and it’s not one that is over in a night. However, the one thing that cannot be disputed is that Phil Ivey has to be up there in any debate.