Phil Ivey Launches Daily Fantasy Sports Platform as Poker Crossover Strengthens

Posted on January 22nd, 2016 by Jon Pineda
phil ivey

The bond among daily fantasy sports and poker is intensifying following the news that poker superstar Phil Ivey is forming his own DFS platform. (Image: Nick Ansell/PA)

Phil Ivey will soon bring you PhilIveyDFS, a daily fantasy sports (DFS) platform that will be hosted and operated by the turnkey iTEAM Network. One of the most successful poker players in the history of the game, Ivey is also a serial entrepreneur who is always looking to make an additional buck on top of his millions.

Ivey debuted “Ivey League” in 2014, an online poker training destination for players looking to take their game to the next level. Now two years later, Ivey is once again fixated on the Internet property space, this time entering the budding world of DFS.

“Over the past few years I’ve been looking for more ways to share with fans my perspective on Daily Fantasy Sports,” Ivey said in a press release. “iTEAM Network’s focus on compliance and the core technology … ultimately made it a pretty easy decision.”

PhilIveyDFS.com will launch in the coming weeks and share overall prize pools with other brands hosted by iTEAM.

Perfect Match

Poker insiders have long argued that if daily fantasy contests are legal online, so should the card game. Since the emergence of DFS and the two chief networks DraftKings and FanDuel, numerous parallels between daily sports contests and poker have been drawn.

First and foremost, in both poker and DFS the house isn’t actively involved in a player winning or losing but simply acts as a facilitator for the game. In poker it’s called a rake, while in DFS it’s called an entry fee.

The principal concern among state attorneys general and politicians is trying to decide how much of a roll skill plays in successfully competing at DFS. Operators argue the contests are predominantly skill, which is why they’re legal through the fantasy sports carve out in the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

Of course, how much skill is involved in DFS and poker largely depends on who is answering the question. That being said, it’s hard to argue that skill isn’t inherently present in poker and daily fantasy sports.

It’s why so many poker professionals have crossed over to DFS. From World Series of Poker November Niner Max Steinberg becoming a DraftKings ace, to Aaron Jones winning $5 million this week in the DraftKings $15 million Fantasy Sports World Championship, skilled poker players are successfully making the transition.

2016 Vital to Legality

The relationship between poker and DFS has never been stronger. Ivey’s entrance into the space will bring additional media coverage and attention, but that might not be a good thing for companies like DraftKings and FanDuel.

Ivey certainly doesn’t come without his flaws.

He’s endured two messy legal cases over the past couple of years for edge sorting cards at the Borgata in Atlantic City and Crockfords Casino in London. In both instances, Ivey profited millions while playing baccarat.

While the online poker industry is trying to strengthen its ties to DFS, fantasy operators are trying to do just the opposite. Daily fantasy is trying to hype itself as a non-gambling enterprise, and associating with poker doesn’t help that cause.

DraftKings notably pulled its branding from this year’s WSOP Main Event.

The year ahead is expected to bring much legislation surrounding DFS, and that could lend to Internet poker as well. Time will tell whether it’s positive or negative for those wishing to play online.

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