Ivey was born in Riverside – California, USA and moved with his family across the country to Roselle, New Jersey as a three-month old. He crafted his game playing skills amongst his co-workers at a New Brunswick, New Jersey telemarketing firm in the late 1990s. One of his nicknames, “No Home Jerome”, stems from the ID card he secured to practice in Atlantic City in his teenage years. His other well-known nickname is ‘the Tiger Woods of Poker’.
Ivey has also reached a record eight final tables on the World Poker Tour. He has lost several of these WPT events by being eliminated while holding the same starting hand each time, an ace and a queen. Eight out of the nine times Phil Ivey has cashed in a WPT event, he has also made the television final table. During the sixth season of the WPT in February 2008, Ivey made the final table at the LA Poker Classic at Commerce Casino that included Phil Hellmuth and Nam Le, eventually capturing the $1,596,000 first prize and putting an end to his streak of seven WPT final tables without a victory. Ivey has earned close to three million dollars in WPT cashes. Ivey made his debut on the European Poker Tour in Barcelona, September 2006. He came to the final table of nine as the chipleader, but he eventually came in second to Bjørn-Erik Glenne from Norway.
In 2006, Ivey was enticed to London to participate in The London All Star Challenge of the inaugural European Poker Masters. Not only Europe’s first-ever independent poker tour, the EPM boasted the best lineup of players ever seen in Europe. As one of the favorites, Ivey made it to the final table to finish seventh, and collected £6,700 ($12,534). In November 2005, Ivey won the $1,000,000 first prize at the Monte Carlo Millions tournament. Just one day after, Ivey took home another $600,000 for finishing first at “The FullTiltPoker.Net Invitational Live from Monte Carlo”. His six opponents were (in reverse finishing order) Mike Matusow, Phil Hellmuth, Gus Hansen, Chris Ferguson, Dave Ulliott, and John Juanda. As of 2008, his total live tournament winnings exceed $10,000,000.
In 2009, Ivey won his 6th bracelet in the $2,500 No-Limit 2-7 Draw Lowball Event of the 2009 WSOP. He defeated a field of 147 players to catch his bracelet. He won a very long heads-up battle against John Monette. He then proceeded to win another bracelet in the $2,500 1/2 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo 1/2 Omaha Hi/Lo event besting a field of 376 people. He defeated Ming Lee heads-up. While winning the $2,500 1/2 Seven Card Stud Hi/Lo 1/2 Omaha Hi/Lo event he also managed to place 22nd in the $5000 Pot-Limit Omaha Eight-or-better despite only playing during the breaks in the Stud/Omaha event.