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High Court Rules that Phil Ivey Cheated at Baccarat

Phil Ivey will not be receiving any of his punto banco winnings from the Crockfords Casino in London. A High Court judge has ruled that Ivey did indeed cheat on his way to racking up over $12 million in winnings.

On Wednesday, Bloomberg reported that Judge John Mitting ruled that Ivey’s use of edge sorting did equate to cheating and Genting will not have to pay Ivey the $12.4 million in winnings racked up in 2012. The 10-time WSOP bracelet winner had claimed that edge sorting was a legitimate strategy, but the way in which Ivey implemented his strategy ultimately led to the judge’s decision.

Honest Witness, But Still Cheated

Judge Mitting acknowledged that Ivey was an honest witness during the trial, but his honesty was not enough to secure a win. According to the judge, “He gave himself an advantage which the game precludes. This is, in my view, cheating.”

Ivey had argued that his job as a gambler was to spot ways that he could reduce the house edge and put the odds into his favor. Using a process known as edge sorting, Ivey spotted flaws on the backs of cards that he used to determine their value. This allowed him to rack up over $12 million in winnings.

However, there is one extra wrinkle to this story that may have made the difference in the judge’s ruling. During the game back in 2012, Ivey and his companion had influenced the croupier to move the cards and deal them in a way that allowed them to spot the flaws.

Mitting determined that Ivey cheated “by using the croupier as his innocent agent or tool.”

Ivey Claims Edge Sorting Legitimate Strategy

Even after the High Court’s ruling on Wednesday, Ivey is still claiming that he did nothing wrong. In a statement released after the ruling, Ivey stated, “I believe that what we did was a legitimate strategy and we did nothing more than exploit Crockfords’ failures to take proper steps to protect themselves against a player of my ability. Clearly today the judge did not agree.”

Ivey described himself during the trial and in an interview aired last night on 60 Minutes Sports as an “advantage player,” which is one that seeks to shift the odds from the house’s favor as much as possible.

Crockfords Feels Vindicated

Not surprisingly, the Crockfords Casino feels vindicated after the judge saved them from having to pay out over $12 million. In a statement released after the ruling, the casino stated, “We attach the greatest importance to our exemplary reputation for fair, honest and professional conduct and today’s ruling vindicates the steps we have taken in this matter.”

Crockfords is one of Genting’s many casinos worldwide. They currently have a market capitalization of around $35 billion, according to Bloomberg. The company recently purchased the site of the former Stardust Casino in Las Vegas.

What Will this Mean for Ivey’s Borgata Case?

Ivey is also facing a similar case in the United States. The Borgata Casino in Atlantic City has a lawsuit pending against Ivey and is seeking repayment of $9.6 million that he won from the casino back in 2012.

Much like the Crockfords case, Ivey and his partner Cheng Yin Sun used similar techniques to achieve their wins. A few extra details are known about the Borgata case. Ivey was granted several concessions, including his own pit and that a single eight-deck shoe of purple Gemaco playing cards be used for the entire session. These concessions were granted under the ruse that he was superstitious.

It is hard to see a judge having a drastically different view than that of the High Court. It is much more likely that Ivey will be forced to repay his winnings to the Borgata unless other arrangements are made following this ruling.

 

 

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James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.

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