Phil Ivey is taking action legal against Crockfords, an exclusive club in Mayfair, London, for allegedly withholding money he accrued during a private game of punto banco last August. The American is thought to be the world’s sixth-highest earner from punto banco tournaments, a card game similar to baccarat, amassing winnings of $14.6m (£9m).
The 36-year-old filed the case in the High Court in London, according to a press release from his representatives. Ivey said in the release that he was given a receipt for his winnings, but that they were never delivered.
“I am deeply saddened that Crockfords has left me no alternative but to proceed with legal action following its decision to withhold my winnings,” he said.
Crockfords is owned by Genting, Southeast Asia’s largest casino operator which in March bought a Las Vegas site, once home to the Stardust resort, for $350 million.
Ivey’s run at the casino drew a lot of attention last year, after he fell $800,000 in the hole when the game began. However, over the next two nights, he and a female companion launched an impressive run to build their profit to a then-reported $11.7 million, apparently arousing the suspicions of the casino management.
Investigators interviewed employees who worked that night and pored over surveillance video. They also checked out the cards that were used in the largely no-skill game in which the outcome is determined strictly by the deal of the cards.
“However in this rare instance we are able to confirm that our position, which is supported by strong legal advice, has been made very clear to Mr Ivey’s solicitors from the start. We shall be filing our defence shortly and defending this claim vigorously.” Ivey has won nine World Series of Poker bracelets and is “arguably the best poker player in the world,” according to WSOP.com.
At last year’s tournament, he lost to Andy Frankenberger, a former derivatives trader at BNP Paribas SA.