Saturday, February 25, 2006

Phil Ivey vs. Andy Beal

Andy Beal two weeks ago quit poker for good, and then he came out of retirement five days later to take on the corporation in a $10 Million dollar heads up poker challenge. Andy Beal surprised everyone and came out victorious. Now, another week goes by and Andy Beal finds himself in a challenge against Phil Ivey. Do you know how this turned out? Well check out the results below.

Thanks to CardPlayer for this article.

What is the sum of two players and a game of limit Texas hold’em, divided by three days of intense heads-up action? The answer is 16.6 million dollars. Over the years, mathematical theorist Andy Beal has applied probability to the game of poker
and found new fame by repeatedly challenging the elite in a spirited game of limit Texas hold’em.

“Beal’s conjecture,” otherwise known as the “Beal problem,” became just that for The Corporation — a team of professional poker players who aggregated their $10 million and matched it against his $20 million in a series of private sessions. Since early February, the event became a virtual roller coaster ride for players and fans alike, with financial swings, false retirement claims, and multiple challengers adding to the excitement.

At the midmonth break of a nail-biting two-week competition, The Corporation had depleted their $10 million bankroll. The members dusted themselves off and prepared for Thursday’s L.A. Poker Classic event in California. The game was paused until the two teams could coordinate their schedules.

On Monday night, Feb. 20, 2006, Beal was back on a plane to Las Vegas and checked himself into the Wynn Resort upon arrival. He returned to play a third week of high-stakes Texas hold’em poker against a new challenger, the Corporation’s long time team member, Phil Ivey.

Ivey is known for his aggressive play and unwavering focus at the tables. At the recent Card Player Player of the Year awards, he took home three top awards, best no-limit player, best heads-up player, and most-feared player. Ivey continues to play the highest-stakes cash games in the world in addition to the tournament circuit.

Tuesday, Feb. 21:

Play began in the late afternoon and blinds were set at $30,000-$60,000, lower than the previous $50,000-$100,000 of weeks past. Ivey seemed to hold the lead throughout the day’s match. Spectators in the high-limit section of the Wynn poker room, who witnessed much of the action, shared their thoughts with Card Player. Most felt Ivey had exhibited an aggressive approach. In typical fashion, he sat blank-faced, focused, and with his mouth agape.

It’s the same expression that also won Ivey the “Flushies” award, for the best poker face, during the 2005 World Series of Poker. Ivey has an intense and intimidating nature at any table and the one-on-one competition with Beal only seemed to magnify this trait.

Play ended at around 7 p.m. PST and it appeared Ivey was up several racks. It was confirmed by a member of The Corporation that the number was $2 million in Ivey and The Corporation’s favor.

Phil Ivey played a very, very aggressive style, and very effectively. Whether
Andy was timing him wrong or Ivey was getting good cards at the right time, Phil was a step ahead for most of the session. For the first 45 mins, Andy was letting Phil run over him, picking his spots, and Ivey was withdrawing.

But then Ivey took control, winning lots of pots without a showdown and always seeming to have Beal when the hands went to the end. Sometimes, Phil had big cards and won that way. Other times, Andy called him down with 4th pair and Phil had 3rd pair. One step ahead.

Phil ended up $2 million ahead for the group. There was also a $25,000 coin flip after the day's play, won by Ivey. (He called heads)

Wednesday, Feb. 22:

First thing Wednesday morning, Ivey and Beal were again heads-up at the felt on table No. 3 at the Wynn. Blinds remained at $30,000-$60,000 and again Ivey seemed to have an advantage over Beal. In less than eight hours of heightened competition, Ivey ended the day with another monetary gain of $4.6 million.

They were playing $30,000-$60,000. The only good news in all this for Beal was that the stakes were lower. Phil Ivey played a very aggressive heads-up game. It's arguable whether Andy Beal had an answer to it; there were periods where it seemed like Phil was rolling over him, and periods where it seemed like he was picking Phil off, getting paid for slowplaying, waiting until Phil got the money in the pot with nothing to make his move, etc.

Phil had the lead for most of the day, though Andy tied the match at 1:25 PM. After that, Phil accelerated, helped by some very good cards. The luck has run both ways in the Andy's games with the pros and the last 2-3 hours were favorable ones to Phil. Again, it's arguable he was outplaying Andy and had Andy playing defense all day long, but whatever Phil was doing right - and it was arguably plenty - was aided by hitting big cards at the right time.

In the last few hours, there were periods where almost every pot was multiple-raised and Ivey was winning a large portion of those. Some, of course, were the result of Beal making a move, but Phil had the goods an extraordinarily high percentage of the time. When Andy had a big day against Jennifer Harman, she was playing (generally) the same style game as Phil, but she had periods where she was card dead and had no defense when Andy played back. It appeared Andy had enough to play back ... Ivey had enough to win all these big showdowns.

That puts the group (The Corporation) ahead about $6.6 million for the two days. The match is scheduled to continue tomorrow. (It appears Phil Ivey again and a 9 AM start at the same stakes, but that could possibly change.)

They flipped a coin for $50,000 at the end of the day. Andy called heads. When it came up tails, he said, "Who didn't know how that was going to come out?"

To re-emphasize, Ivey played an excellent game, arguably one that Beal didn't have a good answer to. But that kind of aggressiveness is helped enormously by good cards, and Phil got them where, in other situations, Andy got them and was able to demonstrate the superiority of his "style".

This is speculation/analysis/etc. but it would be too easy to look at the results and say, "Phil Ivey is just too much for Andy Beal." Maybe it's true. Phil played very tough. But it's hard to defend against a super-aggressive player when you take your shots to look him up and, as happened to Beal in one instance, your opponent shows you quads.

Ivey and Beal left the table of the poker room together while they conversed amongst themselves.

Thursday, Feb. 23:

At 9 a.m. Beal and Ivey met for a third and final session. Ivey was in seat two, at the long end of the table, with his back against the wall. Beal sat in seat six, at an angle so as to face Ivey. To Beal’s left (in seat seven), sat his long time friend and representative, Craig Singer and next to him was Michael Craig (author of the book The Professor, The Banker and the Suicide King), in seat nine. The two players discussed the possibility of raising the stakes while the witnesses remained silent. It took only moments for Ivey and Beal to come to an agreement and the blinds
would indeed be raised to the original level of $25,000 – $50,000, increasing the limits to $50,000 – $100,000.

At around noon, the players took a short break and Craig Singer explained that Beal had developed a reserved curiosity over the media’s need to share information regarding the private high-stakes matches. Back in Texas, Singer had printed a recent article and placed it on Beal’s desk for his review. Suddenly, the break was over and Singer was due to return to his seat. He informed us Beal was up almost $2 million. “We’re doing better today.” He said as he returned to the game about to resume.

From the rail, one could see Beal reaching repeatedly into his rack for chips. Within a few hands it appeared Ivey had reversed his deficit and was back to even. The dealer was tapped out and a new one took his place. When that dealer was swapped-out, he shook his head, as in disbelief while walking from the table. The already intense face-off had become an action packed, raise-to-the-river spectacle.

Members of The Corporation began to arrive and could be seen on the sidelines, talking discretely amongst themselves. They were careful to keep a respectful distance from the table so as not to distract the players. It was just after 1 p.m. when both players suddenly rose to shake hands. After approximately four hours of play, Ivey had recovered his initial loss and won an additional $10 million.

The Corporation had recovered their $10 million loss since Feb 1, and earned another $6.5 million in revenue through Ivey's efforts.

Andy Beal complimented members of The Corporation for their sportsmanship and announced he would be heading home to Texas.

Andy Beal also mentioned that he was done with poker.

Here is some more detail on the final day's action courtesy of Bluff Magazine

1. They played $50,000-$100,000. Ivey wanted the higher limit and, of course, Beal wanted it. Ivey convinced the pros, who I think were very divided about it. And even though Andy lost $10 million today, he made a point of thanking Phil at the end and saying, completely sincerely, "Thanks for getting the stakes raised to fifty and one hundred." Not sarcastically, but honestly.

2. Andy was ahead by $1-2 million for the first half of the match. Like the first two days, Phil controlled the action by always raising, always betting, but Andy had him timed very well for picking him off.

3. In a space of 3 hands, Phil made back most of that deficit. Big pots, concealed strength, wicked rivers, etc. etc. etc. But Phil took over the lead and just ACCELERATED.

4. He made the $10 million in about 4 hours.

5. The game became wild, reckless, and unrelentlessly aggressive. The timing Andy had in picking Phil off had failed. Andy got some river suck-outs but, now behind, probably became dispirited when he was the victim. (Phil, in contrast, was not affected in the least when Andy sucked out. So I can't tell you if Andy took more bad beats or just got affected by it more.) But with constant reraising and nobody folding, the river will decide a lot of hands. Phil won more of those, which made the game just that much more out of control.

6. Andy said he's done with poker for ever. One of the pros said he would bet that Andy will be back within six months.

7. Andy was a total gentleman, and so was Phil Ivey, and so were the several pros in the room, who came because they were concerned about how their investment was doing but kept discretely hidden so not to appear to be gloating over the result.

Well this has been the latest update on the Andy Beal vs. The Corporation and it has been brought to you by the PokerParty blog and the Bonus Code 20BR for Party Poker.

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Anonymous Dan M said...

I still don't see how losing $3mm, then winning $10mm, then losing $10mm adds up to losing more than $16 million.

2:38 AM  

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