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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Aria ready for Ivey Room debut

17 May 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- So how much money do you have to gamble to have your name placed on the room that houses the highest-limit poker table inside the Strip's newest and most expensive hotel-casino?

Aria President Bill McBeath isn't saying.

But clearly when the name of poker superstar Phil Ivey is attached to a nine-seat table, we're not talking penny ante.

CityCenter's Aria has taken the exclusive high-limit poker table area and named it "The Ivey Room" after someone many people consider the world's best poker player.

"We were thrilled that Phil agreed when we asked if he would consider putting his name on the room," said McBeath, who is a friend of Ivey and himself is a poker player.

Ivey, who on record has won more than $10 million in tournament poker since 2000, reached the final table of last year's World Series of Poker main event, finishing seventh and winning more than $1.404 million.

Ivey owns seven World Series of Poker individual event champion bracelets, including two earned in 2009.

To poker fans, Ivey, a high-stakes gambler, is one of game's most popular superstars. In the run-up to last year's World Series of Poker final table, he was profiled for an issue of ESPN The Magazine and was the subject of a story on the cable network's "E:60" television show.

But Ivey is a mercurial personality who rarely gives interviews and allows only his closest friends into his inner circle.

"Phil is a great guy, a longtime friend both of the MGM Mirage family and mine personally, and remains a fan favorite in the world of poker," McBeath said
The new high-stakes poker room at Aria is named after Phil Ivey.

The new high-stakes poker room at Aria is named after Phil Ivey. (photo by Vin Narayanan)

Before Aria opened in December, one of the gaming areas McBeath touted was the casino's poker room, which has 24 tables, including 18 on the main floor and five in an elevated room.

McBeath showed off the one-table private area that he likened to "Bobby's Room" at the Bellagio, the high-limit poker room named for CityCenter Chief Executive Officer Bobby Baldwin, who won the World Series of Poker in 1978.

Baldwin is a contemporary of some of the game's best known players and he annually plays in the World Series of Poker's $10,000 buy no-limit hold 'em world championship main event.

"Bobby's Room" is known in poker circles for hosting some of highest-limit cash games of legendary proportions. The room was popularized in the 2005 book, "The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King: Inside the Richest Poker Game of All Time" by Michael Craig, which detailed billionaire banker Andrew Beal's series of high-stakes poker games with Las Vegas' top professional players.

McBeath would love "The Ivey Room" to reach that status.

"The Ivey Room" features direct player access to the main poker room's cashier cage, where guests can use one of 480 safety deposit boxes. There is 24-hour table-side dining, complimentary beverage service, an overhead state-of-the-art music system and three 42-inch television monitors.

To unveil the room, Aria will host a $1 million VIP Poker Tournament for invited customers May 22. Participants will compete for the $250,000 first-place prize and an opportunity to earn $100,000 for knocking Ivey out of the event. The overall tournament winner will play in a heads-up match against Ivey with a chance at earning an additional $250,000.