This story has been brewing for months now. Word first leaked out about this story in late January, and there has still been no resolution to the matter as of yet. Early stories about this cast Phil Ivey in a very negative light, but after interviewing several sources close to the matter, I have been able to cobble together a bunch of facts about the story and dispel some of the myths.
Let's start from the beginning. In terms of gambling, golf sits just behind poker in terms of the game of choice for most professional poker players in Las Vegas. Most of the big names play golf when they aren't playing poker, and there is always big money on the line. Guys like Daniel Negreanu, Erick Lindgren, and Phil Ivey are always on the course, playing for big money.
The story that surfaced in late January went like this. Phil Ivey, Marc Goodwin, Ram Vaswani and Eric Sagstrom hooked up for a game of golf. Ivey is typically the weakest player of the four, so he gets shots given to him from the others, in order to even it up and make it a competitive game.
According to the story leaked in January, Goodwin / Vaswani / Sagstrom asked Ivey how much he had played in the last few months, and Ivey replied that he had played very little, due to focusing on poker. The three players gave Ivey a bunch of strokes, and off they went. According to the story though, Ivey had been playing daily over those three months, and receiving some of the best coaching that money could buy. Because of this coaching and the strokes he had been given, Ivey destroyed the three other players, leaving Sagstrom and Goodwin owing $450,000, and Vaswani owing $900,000. According to this story, Sagstrom and Goodwin both stormed off the course early, and Vaswani finished up the full 18 holes.
Now, let's separate the truth from the fiction. The truth of the matter is that Ivey did take $1.8 million from these three players on the golf course. More truth: he hasn't been paid as of yet, and recently flew out to Europe to try and resolve the situation. Other than that, the story is mainly fiction. Here is what really happened, as I have been explained by my sources.
Goodwin and Vaswani especially are very good golfers. Goodwin is a scratch golfer, and Vaswani is a bit below that. These guys are on the golf course not to have fun, but to make money. They are true hustlers, looking for favorable situations to make money. Ivey, a very wealthy, not especially good golfer, was a great mark for them. In fact, Ivey has dropped hundreds of thousands of dollars to these two in the past, and had paid right away.
Ivey had in fact been working on his golf game as of late. The foursome was unable to determine how many shots Ivey should get. They asked Ivey if Erick Lindgren still gives Ivey ten shots when they play, and Ivey said yes he does, which was true. This was verified with Lindgren. So it was settled, Ivey would get ten shots, and off they went.
Ivey had gotten better, but hadn't lied about it. Goodwin and Vaswani played worse than they both normally do, missing short putts, flubbing shots. As the holes went by, they kept losing money.
The four players agreed to raise the stakes, and KEPT RAISING THE STAKES over a period of 72 holes. Up and up the stakes went, as Goodwin / Vaswani / Sagstrom desperately tried to win their money back. It didn't happen though, and after 72 holes, the trio owed Phil Ivey $1.8 million dollars in total. They were pissed, and didn't pay. The hustlers had been outplayed by Phil Ivey.
Three months later, and they still haven't paid. The crazy part is that Ivey paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars to these players in the past, and they wouldn't even pay him back that amount of money. I have been told that Ivey dropped $250,000 to these players and paid instantly; yet when he won back $1.8 million dollars, he didn't get a cent of it.
The fact that people were siding against Phil Ivey disgusts me. You had hustlers (Goodwin and Vaswani) constantly raising the stakes, in hopes of getting their money back. No one forced them to keep playing after 18 holes; they could have just paid up right then and left. They still would have been up money against Ivey. But instead, they jacked up the stakes, and lost big.
As Doyle Brunson said about the situation when speaking to Phil Ivey "Did you have a gun to their head and force them to play?"
Goodwin and Vaswani should pay up right now, take their lumps and move on. They are looking terrible in this situation.
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Filed Under: Random Poker News