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January 20, 2019

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Photos: The high-limit Ivey Room opens in honor of Phil Ivey at Aria

Phil Ivey's High-Limit Room at Aria

Tom Donoghue/www.donoghuephotography.com

The $1 Million VIP Poker Tournament commemorates the grand opening of The Ivey Room, an exclusive one-table high-limit room named in honor of seven-time World Series of Poker champion Phil Ivey at Aria on May 22, 2010.

Phil Ivey's High-Limit Room at Aria

The $1 Million VIP Poker Tournament commemorates the grand opening of The Ivey Room, an exclusive one-table high-limit room named in honor of seven-time World Series of Poker champion Phil Ivey at Aria on May 22, 2010. Launch slideshow »
Click to enlarge photo

The $1 Million VIP Poker Tournament commemorates the grand opening of The Ivey Room, an exclusive one-table high-limit room named in honor of seven-time World Series of Poker champion Phil Ivey at Aria on May 22, 2010.

Click to enlarge photo

The $1 Million VIP Poker Tournament commemorates the grand opening of The Ivey Room, an exclusive one-table high-limit room named in honor of seven-time World Series of Poker champion Phil Ivey at Aria on May 22, 2010.

Phil Ivey and The Ivey Room

Phil Ivey and The Ivey Room

Phil Ivey and The Ivey Room

As can only happen in poker, when Phil Ivey opened The Ivey Room, his one-table high-limit poker room, at Aria in MGM’s CityCenter on Saturday, all the pros were KO’d, and the final table of nine consisted of regular players in the debut $1 million tournament.

The $250,000 first-place winner of the Ivey League invitational was Larry Litton, who then had a shot of winning an additional $250,000 in a heads-up match against Phil. Larry proved unsuccessful, with Phil earning the victory.

Contributing photographer Tom Donoghue was on duty to record all the action of the opening ceremony and play, and loyal Vegas DeLuxe reader Richard Corey posted his videos of the event on YouTube. Bill McBeath, president of Aria, welcomed Phil, guests and actress Shannon Elizabeth, who served as emcee for play-by-play coverage. Among the attendees: Doyle Brunson, Johnny Chan, Sam Farha, Barry Greenstein, Jennifer Tilly, Phil Laak, Erick Lindgren, Vanessa Rousso, Mike Sexton, Jennifer Harmon, David Williams, Bruce Buffer and Frank Mariani of the Los Angeles Lakers executive office.

Bill told me that some 260 players competed, and included among them were 57 WSOP bracelet winners and 5 WSOP champions. That’s mighty impressive for the first day of a new poker room!

“I honestly think it’s the best high-end poker room anywhere in the world,” said Bill, “and Phil Ivey is the best player in the world.”

MGM chief Bobby Baldwin, a renowned poker player in his own right, added: “We already had our own ‘Bobby’s Room’ high-limit spot in the Bellagio, so I didn’t need two of them. So it’s great Phil signed on for this one. This is a room where we expect to see regular $100,000 buy-ins. You will see $2 million won or lost in a night here. Poker is a great game because when you win, it’s like stealing, but when you lose, it’s like being robbed!”

Phil added: “I’ve heard of those kind of games! I love Aria, and I’m looking forward to playing here regularly. It’s my new No. 1 in Las Vegas, and I think my room will bring the same kind of magic to the game that the hotel itself has to the Strip.”

With the World Series of Poker about to get underway, Phil added: “I sense this year will be bigger and better than last year. The growth already is phenomenal, and we have a lot of new players entering this time around.”

I took the opportunity to get a CityCenter update from Bobby: “Business is good and getting better all the time. We’re definitely seeing the upticks and turnarounds. There’s nothing but good news coming out of Aria from now on.

“We’re very happy with the momentum. We’ve hit the 80 percent solid occupancy mark for the first time, and it’s going to continue on that upward movement. We’re really seeing solid local and out-of-town support.”

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.