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There has been considerable speculation over whether the edge sorting tactics used by Phil Ivey at both the Crockfords Casino in London and the Borgata in Atlantic City can be defined as cheating.

Ivey claims that he merely used the advantages available to him as a high roller to negate the house advantage and never did anything wrong in so doing. He made requests such as a particular color and brand of playing cards (Gemaco); a dealer who speaks Mandarin in order to communicate with his companion, Cheng Yin Sun; and to be seated at a private baccarat table.

The requests were granted, and Ivey and Sun apparently never touched the cards. How can cheating be involved if neither defendant ever touched the playing cards?


Legal maneuvering continued in the case initiated by the Borgata when Ivey’s attorneys countersued the casino last week. Among the reasons behind the pleading, which requested the case be dismissed and Ivey duly compensated for damages was that the Gemaco playing cards used while Ivey and Sun amassed over $9 million in winnings throughout several sessions in 2012 were apparently destroyed.

Ivey’s attorneys insist that the ability to defend their client is greatly diminished when the evidence to do so is no longer available. Although that issue will be fought over by the attorneys for both sides and eventually decided by the judge, it certainly seems like a pretty decent claim.

Those of us who don’t have any legal training and are on the outside looking in can only glean details from what we read in news reports or see on TV, such as when Ivey appeared on 60 Minutes Sports last October to defend himself against the cheating allegations. All we can do is speculate and form an opinion as to how the case should go and what the judge’s ruling should or might be.

But if what has been reported is true – that Ivey and Sun never touched the cards while seated at the baccarat table, and that the Gemaco playing cards that had design flaws on the back and were put into play by the Borgata are gone – destroyed by the casino – how can Ivey lose?

Isn’t one of the first rules of law that there is no case without any evidence?


Some point to the edge sorting case in London that Ivey lost as to what might be expected in a New Jersey courtroom. But Ivey was the plaintiff in that legal proceeding, a completely different burden than that as the defendant in the case against Borgata.

Incidentally, the Crockfords case has not yet fully concluded. Ivey’s appeal was allowed and the lawyers will be back at it again later this year. So the 10-time WSOP gold bracelet winner will have another day in court. And by that time, the Borgata case may be over with a favorable decision for Ivey. Can the judge possibly rule any other way?

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Charles Rettmuller

Charles has been an avid poker player for a number of years, both live and online. He holds a degree in journalism and previously worked as a reporter for a Chicago-based newspaper. Charles joined the PokerUpdate team in early 2012 and writes daily news articles for the site.