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Phil Ivey files lawsuit, boycotts World Series of Poker

By Anna Rhett Miller, CNN
Phil Ivey says he won't compete in the 2011 World Series of Poker in protest of the event sponsor, Full Tilt.
Phil Ivey says he won't compete in the 2011 World Series of Poker in protest of the event sponsor, Full Tilt.
  • Ivey accuses Full Tilt Poker of damaging his reputation
  • He says the company owes $150 million to players
  • Full Tilt calls the lawsuit "meritless"

(CNN) -- Phil Ivey, one of the world's best poker players, is boycotting this week's World Series of Poker in Las Vegas and is suing his sponsor.

Full Tilt Poker has damaged his reputation by not paying back $150 million owed to U.S. players, according to a lawsuit Ivey filed Wednesday in District Court in Clark County, Nevada.

"I am deeply disappointed and embarrassed that Full Tilt players have not been paid money they are owed. I am equally embarrassed that as a result, many players cannot compete in tournaments and have suffered economic harm," Ivey says on his website. "I am not playing in the World Series of Poker as I do not believe it is fair that I compete when others cannot."

In April, several Full Tilt executives were indicted as part of a federal crackdown on online poker. Full Tilt has agreed to pay back players, but hasn't, Ivey's suit says.

Full Tilt, otherwise known as Tiltware, fired back.

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"Contrary to his sanctimonious public statements, Phil Ivey's meritless lawsuit is about helping just one player -- himself," Michele Clayborne, of the company's public relations agency, said by e-mail.

"Tiltware doubts Mr. Ivey's frivolous and self-serving lawsuit will ever get to court. But if it does, the company looks forward to presenting facts demonstrating that Mr. Ivey is putting his own narrow financial interests ahead of the players he professes to help."

Ivey's lawsuit seeks more than $150 million in damages from Full Tilt.

"My name and reputation have been dragged through the mud, through the inactivity and indecision of others and on behalf of all poker players I refuse to remain silent any longer," Ivey said on his website.

"I wholeheartedly refuse to accept non-action as to repayment of players funds and I am angered that people who have supported me throughout my career have been treated so poorly."

His stance and boycott of the World Series of Poker drew widespread praise from poker fans on Facebook.

"Will miss watching you play this year, but very admirable man," one wrote in response to Ivey's announcement.

Ivey has won eight World Series of Poker bracelets and more than $5.6 million during his career, placing him sixth in WSOP rankings, according to the organization.