Phil Ivey — The Tiger Woods of Poker
One of the best poker players of all time is an African-American. One of the most powerful men in the world is a poker player and incidentally is Black.
Black poker players are widely celebrated and represented in professional poker circles. Get to know your favorites and cheer them on at the next event, whether a Hollywood star, pro or politician. There are some amazing examples of great African-American poker players, as presented in this article.
The Most Famous: Probably the most famous Black professional poker player is a household name: Phil Ivey or “The Tiger Woods of Poker.” Ivey made a name for himself early in his career after winning three WSOP bracelets at the tender age of 23. He is considered to be one of the best players to ever play the game – and with 137 cashes, 25 first place finishes and 10 WSOP bracelets to his name, it is a moniker well-deserved. What’s even more amazing about Ivey’s success on the felt is that he has collected titles in many different types of games , which – considering that many modern pros concentrate on the game Texas Hold’em – contributes greatly to his legendary status.
Ivey is usually recognized off the felt for his golfing abilities and crazy prop bets on everything from poker to golf to how long he could stay vegetarian.
“The President:” Although this sounds like a nickname, it actually refers to Barack Obama ; President of the United States of America. This is more like an honorable mention for Obama, although he has been an avid poker player for years and enjoyed a regular home game as Senator from Illinois with Senator Terry Links. Most of his colleagues during that time remember him as a tight and cautious player who knew when to take advantage of a strong hand and stay away from big bets from other players.
Although he has no known tournament wins, it would only be a matter of time based on his colleagues’ comments–that is, of course, if he did not have to run the country.
Hollywood: Mekhi Thira Phifer, Hollywood actor of ER fame and movies like The Tuskegee Airmen and Soul Food, has some real game. In the 2004 Celebrity Poker Showdown, he took down Neil Patrick Harrison in an exciting fourth season. Playing often in tournaments – sometimes as part of a celebrity team – keeps his game fresh and his face loved by all.
Sunday Millionaire: Anthony Gregg (or Tony, as most people know him) started his poker career in high school and starting playing extensively at 18, learning the ropes and playing online poker. His win of the PokerStars Sunday Million in 2007 earned him $70k and truly started his full time poker career. Since then, 23 cashes, two first place finishes and a WSOP bracelet have totaled over $9 million in winnings for Tony, making a bet on this black star a sure win.
Mistaken Identity: Paul Darden was the victim of a wrongful murder conviction due to mistaken identity at the age of 15.
From such a tragic life event, he turned to the one constant in his life: poker. The conviction was overturned and Darden started playing at the newly opened Foxwoods Casino and started making trips to Atlantic City to play in the $75-$150 Stud games. It was here that he met Phil Ivey, who became a sort of poker mentor for Darden. With almost $2 million in tournament winnings after 133 cashes and 11 first places, he has made a name for himself as one of the most prolific black poker players in history.
This list is not exhaustive of the best or most famous African-American poker players, but it definitely provides proof that it is a game well placed in the Black community.