Phil Ivey to Join California Indian Tribe in Online Gaming Venture

Rumors surfaced this week that the so-called “Tiger Woods of poker,” Phil Ivey, has made an agreement with a southern California indian tribe to be the face of their Internet gaming venture.

Ivey is set to team up with the Pala Indian Tribe, which runs one of California’s most successful tribal casinos. The Pala Casino Resort and Spa is located just outside the city of San Diego. Also slated to participate in the new venture is Jim Ryan, formerly the chief executive officer of

Online gambling not yet regulated in California

While online gambling has not yet been regulated in the state of California, draft legislation has been proposed. Should California move to legalize online betting, it would become by far the largest market in the United States. So far only three states have legalized some type of Internet wagering, those states being Delaware, New Jersey, and Nevada, all of which are fairly small in terms of population.

Should regulation go through in the Golden State, the Pala venture, known as Pala Interactive, could eventually also offer real-money online gambling to residents of other states permitting an interstate compact is in place.

Ivey previously was a face of Full Tilt Poker

The role of being the face of an online gambling operation will be nothing new for Phil Ivey, who has long been recognized as one of the best, if not the best, to ever play the game. Before the site was shut down by the United States government in April of 2011, Ivey was a professional on the roster of Full Tilt Poker.

Ivey’s association with the site led to some sullying of his reputation, though his name was not the only to be dragged through the mud in the aftermath of Black Friday. A handful of pros and the site’s founders were roundly accused of treating the company like a veritable piggy bank, a matter that continues to sting many in the online poker world as US-based players whose funds were frozen on the site over two years ago are still awaiting reimbursement.

A rough few years for poker great

In some ways, it seems as if the Full Tilt scandal kicked off a series of unfortunate events for Phil Ivey. He went through a prolonged and messy divorce with his former wife, Luciaetta, who lodged allegations of judicial impropriety in the handling of the divorce case when news surfaced that Ivey had contributed money to the judge’s campaign.

Another bit of misfortune came to light earlier this year, when the tony Crockfords Casino in Mayfair, London, which is one of the oldest continually operating casinos in the world, refused Ivey a £7.8 million payout after a hot streak at the game of punto banco, a variation of baccarat.

Back in May the casino said that Ivey may have been taking advantage of a flaw in the cards to gain an advantage at the game, which is meant to be one of pure chance. That same month, Ivey sued to recover his winnings, saying at the time, “I was given a receipt for my winnings, but Crockfords has withheld payment. I have no alternative but to take legal action.”

Of course for the time being, Phil Ivey is in Nevada focusing on the World Series of Poker. He has also launched a new site,

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

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