Less than 48 hours before cards were in the air for the 2018 Super High Roller Bowl it was announced that Phil Ivey would be replacing Tony G. A few days prior, Steffen Sontheimer took the seat of Andrew Robl, and that had quite a bit of impact on the overall tournament field. We spoke to PokerShares ambassador Mike McDonald to get a sense of what these changes mean for the value of the other players, along with how players like Sontheimer and Ivey are perceived by the betting public.

“Thus far the market suggests that there might be, but I have to add that the table draws for Day 1 were also taken into account and we believe that Sontheimer has one of the most favorable tables versus Ivey having one of the toughest,” McDonald said when asked whether Steffen Sontheimer is 30% better at poker than Phil Ivey given the current price on PokerShares.

To provide some context at the time of publishing, Sontheimer is the most expensive player value at 1.36 followed by Fedor Holz, Stephen Chidwick and Christoph Vogelsang at 1.30. Ivey is currently sitting at 1.06, right behind Daniel Negreanu at 1.08 and in front of Antonio Esfandiari at 1.02.

“The market shifted quite a bit when it was announced that Sontheimer would be replacing Robl, and when Ivey took the spot of Tony G,” McDonald said.

McDonald explained that these changes lowered the markup of all players by 1%, “We believe that Ivey and Sontheimer are collecting an additional 0.3 to 0.5 buy-ins from the prize pool which Robl and Tony G wouldn’t have.”

Providing historic perspective on how the highest stakes tournaments have evolved, McDonald looks back at the first ever high roller tournament that he played during the 2008 Aussie Millions.

“That 25-player tournament had only four guys, Tom Dwan, Nicki Jedlicka and Jeff Garza and myself, who you could consider online professionals. Ivey was the best player in that field by a landslide, and I think his ROI might’ve been close to 100%, while the top players these days might have an ROI between 25 and 32%. His ROI in that era was better than the ROIs of the elite players in this era. Back then, there might’ve been six online wizards in the entire tournament, while nowadays you might have six wizards at your table.”

“Phil Ivey was years ahead of the curve. He did a lot of things on his own and figured out components of tournament poker that others hadn’t. He was also one of the best guys at understanding live dynamics and live reads, but over the years the gap was eventually closed and then surpassed.”

While Ivey has lost some of his magic for an event such as the Super High Roller Bowl given how the average opponent has gotten so much better, McDonald still thinks that in the WSOP Main Event it’s a better bet to go with Phil Ivey.

“A huge component to the WSOP Main Event field is that the inexperienced and the recreational players are afraid of you, and most of them probably have no idea who Steffen is. Stefan would still be one of the highest priced players who aren’t poker famous, but I think that in that tournament I would still take Phil Ivey over Steffen.”

The ‘Phil Ivey Factor’ however is still very real in other events, the WSOP Main Event in particular, as his gaze and table presence will scare players into both folding and calling with their tournament life on the line.

“There will still be enough players that are completely mortified to play a hand against him, but I don’t think the players in the Super High Roller Bowl will be overly intimidated by Phil, as even the recreational players in this tournament have played against him before and won’t freeze up when they’re in a pot against him.”

The Super High Roller Bowl on PokerGO kicks off at 6:00 pm ET on PokerGO with live commentary provided by Ali Nejad and Nick Schulman. Don’t miss a minute of the action and subscribe right now as a potential clash between Sontheimer and Ivey is very much in cards!

Phil Ivey, Steffen Sontheimer, Mike McDonald