The Buffalo Bills’ Unlikely Fan in the Poker World


Phil Ivey rakes in millions of chips for a living, which is why he is a devoted fan of the “Bills”

American football offers a different dynamic to the sport in terms of their rowdy and seemingly over-the-top fans. These football team’s fans – more often than not – become staples in live games or follow them religiously every Sunday or Monday. Being the most popular sport in the United States, the diversity of fandom in the sport also reflects from their high profile fans like US President Barack Obama who is known for his unwavering loyalty to sports especially the NFL’s Chicago Bears, and former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice who proudly cheers for the Cleveland Browns even during the Jim Brown era; some “not-so normal” fans also made a name for themselves with the Kansas City Chiefs’ Arrowman and the other New York team’s Fireman Ed. For our Buffalo Bills, our team’s fan base has some serious star power in itself, with singer/actor Meat Loaf, and the outspoken billionaire Donald Trump. But not many know that even the “Tiger Woods of Poker,” Phil Ivey, is an avid supporter of the Bills.

Phillip Dennis Ivey Jr. can often be seen at the tables wearing comfortable sporty clothes along with his huge Beats headphones. He wears his team’s colors proudly, while tackling his opponents with slick bluffs, and patient traps – two of the reasons why he’s regarded by many as the best all-around poker player on the planet. Ivey started to hone his poker skills by going up against his co-workers at a New Jersey telemarketing firm during the late 1990s. Growing up near Atlantic City, he used a fake identification card to sneak inside casinos like the Taj Mahal Resort and Casino in Boardwalk, and play Seven Card Stud for long hours. From there, Phil Ivey’s poker legacy soared to new and amazing heights. The wealth of his accomplishments includes nine World Series of Poker bracelets – three of those coming from the 2002 season, being the first player to beat the legendary Amarillo Slim heads-up at a WSOP final table, and a string of money finishes in the Main Event. His successful streak in poker carried on even to the Partypoker.com sponsored World Poker Tour events, in which he managed to cash in a whopping $3 million in WPT tournament earnings. Today, Phil Ivey is sitting pretty at number four on the all time money list with almost $18 million, just a couple of million dollars behind Antonio Esfandiari, Sam Trickett, and Phil Hellmuth. And with the upcoming NFL season just a couple of months away, Phil Ivey has another reason to smile about. His Buffalo Bills took a step towards the right direction with the hiring of a new coaching staff led by Syracuse University football coach, Doug Marrone. This will increase the chances of running back CJ Spiller to show everyone what he’s capable of, and for their rookie quarterback EJ Manuel to develop his untapped potential in an offence-first coaching system.

Fans of the Buffalo Bills – including Phil Ivey – have September 8 marked on their calendars in anticipation of their week 1 game against the New England Patriots on their home field. With a new coaching staff, a new philosophy, and a new outlook on the pitch, this year looks promising for the Buffalo Bills and their thousands of adoring fans. Maybe this can be the year the Bills crash the playoff picture, after a 13-year layoff.

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