Pat & Mel Humphrey: Friends With Ivey Since He Was 17

Pat and Mel Humphrey at the Rio railing Phil Ivey on Day 1c of the Main Event. (Photo Credit: Drew Amato)

Pat and Mel Humphrey at the Rio railing Phil Ivey on Day 1c of the Main Event. (Photo Credit: Drew Amato)

Pat and Mel Humphrey were on the rail in the Pavillion on Monday. They were adorned in all of their regular support clothing, buttons, and signs – surrounded by fans, and curious others trying to get friendly with the couple.

When approached by Bluff, the couple seemed hesitant at first, but they eventually warmed up and gave a small glimpse into their lives, and how they came to be friends with the man considered the best poker player in the world… Phil Ivey.

“We first met Phil in Atlantic city, when he was playing the low limit games, playing 1/5 Stud. He was only 17. I started playing in a tournament with him and we got friendly, and from there on we played with him in the same games. Then he moved to Vegas, he got better and we didn’t,” said Pat laughing.

“We’ve been coming out for 14 or 15 years. We became friends before he came here. One year we came here and we saw him on the escalator – we’ve been standing behind him every since,” explained Pat.

There are many rumors about Ivey personally flying the couple out to all of the events that they rail. And although they describe Ivey as a true gentlemen that will sometimes extend the offer, they insist that they don’t like to accept the gesture.

“He’s offered many times. We made our reservations this year in February already, I’ve got a text on my phone of him offering, but we don’t like to accept. We just don’t feel right about doing that,” said Mel.

Many people may not be aware of how close the couple actually is to Ivey. They are not just close with him, but with his family as well, making them much more than just fans.

“We’re friends with his mom, his uncle, and his cousins. He’s always done by us well, because were friends, not fans – were friends,” explained Pat.

Mel Humphrey wanted to make it known that despite all of Ivey’s success, he hasn’t changed much:

“One thing about Phil – success hasn’t gone to his head. He is still a perfect gentlemen at the table, he always has been, and he always will be,” said Mel.

“When he got to the final table in 2009 he saw where we were sitting,” in the audience at the World Series of Poker Main Event. The couple wasn’t on the stage with Ivey at first, but after he noticed them, he made sure they could come up. “And then we were sitting on the stage with him,” said Mel with a smile.

Phil Ivey's player's card from the Tropicana when he was 17, and went by the name Jerome Graham. (Photo Credit: Erik Lemarquand)

Phil Ivey’s player’s card from the Tropicana when he was 17, going by the name Jerome Graham. (Photo Credit: Erik Lemarquand)

Ivey was gambling out in Atlantic City long before he was of legal age. When he was just 17 he was playing in some of the limit games under a fake identity. As soon as he turned 21, though, he didn’t need to put up the front any longer.

“He was always a good player, even when he was 17. That was his life, he loves it, he loves the game. That’s all he ever did. That’s all he ever wanted to do. We were there the day he turned 21, and he immediately went to all the poker rooms and apologized for lying. He said, ‘I’m sorry. Now I’m 21… my name is Phil,'” said Pat earnestly.

It seems that Pat and Mel have celebrated a few times with Ivey, and if he happens to win the Main Event this year, things will be no different.

“If he wins, we’ll get together [laughs], we’ll be at the party… believe me,” said Mel with a grin.


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