Debunking Ivey Poker Speculation and Looking to the Future of Ivey League

Posted on October 31, 2014

Over the weekend, Phil Ivey announced via his Twitter that the Ivey Poker app would be shut down effective immediately. Furthermore, the website connected to the app as well as the Ivey Poker Facebook page now reroute to Ivey League.

Following the closure, there has been a lot of speculation as to why the site closed and the future of the site. I’m here to debunk a little bit of that speculation and share what I can about the situation.

From July 2013 until the end of the 2014 WSOP Main Event, I served as the webmaster for IveyPoker.com. If it was on the site, I put it there. I’ve actually known about the shutdown of the app since July but could not share until now.

Crockfords Had No Impact on Shutting Down the App

One point of speculation that I have seen floated on multiple sites is that the Crockfords case against Phil in some way influenced the shutdown of the app. That is an inaccurate assumption on multiple levels.

First, I can confirm one bit of speculation in that some pros were told around the end of the WSOP that the app was going away. I was officially informed of the company’s decision on July 14 and that’s when my contract with the company was terminated. You may notice that all updates to the site stopped at that time.

The assumption that Ivey losing the case to Crockfords put him in a tenuous financial position regarding the app was a bit amusing. How quickly many have forgotten that he won the $250,000 Challenge at Aussie Millions on a single bullet. That netted him $3 million.

Also, people treat the Crockfords case as if he lost the $12 million out of pocket. Rather, he simply was not paid “winnings” from the casino. Big difference.

Shutdown Not Surprising

While I enjoyed my time working with Ivey Poker, the shutdown of the app was not a surprise to me whatsoever. The app simply did not draw the amount of traffic that anyone had hoped.

Quite often, you would go to the lobby and at peak hours, we might have 50 players. While that might be acceptable for a fledgling real-money site, it just doesn’t work for a free to play site.

The “play with the pros” concept was solid and when the pros were on the site, there was usually a waiting list to play them. Everyone has probably played with Gillian Epp at least once as she practically lived on the site. Unfortunately, the concept didn’t draw the players in mass.

For me, the writing was on the wall when the site started offering tournaments awarding free Gold and free chips and we had a hard time pulling over 50 entries, including rebuys.

What happened? Simply, I think market saturation killed us. There were just too many free to play sites out there and Ivey Poker couldn’t get enough traction during the first run.

Ivey League is Not Going Away

If you notice, everything with the company is now focused exclusively on Ivey League. From my time with the company, this is not surprising in the least. While I cannot go into full disclosure, the Ivey League training site is doing well and is not going anywhere.

Part of Ivey League’s success is the fact that they do not rely too heavily on the “celebrity status” pros for content. While there is content from Ivey, Antonius and the other, the meat of the site is driven by the everyday pros, trainers and grinders that helped make LeggoPoker, and now Ivey Poker, a success.

I’m not privy to current membership numbers but back a couple months prior to the start of the WSOP, the number of members with a Master’s tier subscription was impressive. Also, you don’t see a lot of turnover with the coaches. The team is dedicated to growing the site.

What Does Evolution Look Like?

Here is where I will speculate a bit because I am no longer officially tied to the company. My personal opinion is that if the app returns, it becomes an extension of Ivey League and not a separate entity as before.

Ivey League is proving to be a solid product and using the app as a lead-in to poker training with Ivey League makes more sense. If you remember, Ivey Poker had a training section when they started. That was updated periodically until Ivey League came out.

What I see happening with the next release of what I will dub the Ivey League App is a training section that is just the basics and then further training going to Ivey League and their three-tier subscription plan.

Ivey Poker as you know it is history. Ivey’s statement revealed as much. Ivey League is the focus for the company now and that’s where the focus will be in the future.

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James Guill

Originally a semi-professional player, James transitioned to the media side in 2008. Since then he has made a name for himself reporting for some of the top names in the industry. When not covering the poker world, James travels around central Virginia hunting for antique treasure.

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