It has been a long and drawn out legal battle, but high-stakes poker pro Phil Ivey has lost his appeal against Crockfords Casino for withholding his seven-figure winnings playing in a ‘Punto Banco’ variant of Baccarat due to suspicions he cheated the casino by engaging in a technique called “edge sorting”, with the help of a friend.
Players using the technique look for imperfections in the manufacturer’s playing cards to gain an advantage. Ivey had specifically asked Crockfords for approval to use a specific deck of playing cards.
Crockfords casino had three primary parts to their defence. Quoting directly from the court ruling:
(1) No game of Punto Banco was in fact played because the premise on which the game proceeds, that the cards will be dealt at random, was defeated because the player knew what the first card of any coup dealt was likely to be before it was turned face up;
(2) There was an implied term that the claimant would not cheat and that term was broken;
(3) The claimant committed the criminal offence of cheating under section 42 of the Gambling Act 2005 by interfering with the game or deceiving the Crockfords’ staff and so is disentitled to found his claim on his own criminal conduct.
The case was dismissed in June 2015 and Phil Ivey filed an appeal against the UK court ruling. Ivey admitted to using the edge sorting technique but has always maintained that he didn’t cheat the Genting-owned casino, stating that the winnings belonged to him because the technique was perfectly legitimate, and he was only using information that is available to every other player.
The presiding judge agreed with the original decision, stating that a player can cheat “without dishonesty or intention to deceive” – depending on the circumstances. “It may be enough that he simply interferes with the process of the game,” Court of Appeal Justice Mary Arden said as reported in the Telegraph.
The final verdict handed down in the judgement means that Ivey will not be seeing any of the £7. 8 million pounds he thought he won over two-days back in 2012 at the exclusive Crockfords Casino in Mayfair. The Court of Appeal ruled that Phil Ivey’s actions affected the expected odds without the knowledge of the casino and ruled in favor of the London casino.
On the ruling, Phil Ivey said, “This decision makes no sense to me. The trial judge said that I was not dishonest and the three appeal judges agreed, but somehow the decision has gone against me.”
Borgata Casino Sues Phil Ivey Over Edge Sorting Case As Well
The high profile poker pro also happens to be caught up in another trial involving edge sorting playing mini-baccarat at Borgata Casino. He’s hoping to keep the $9.6 million in winnings that he and the same partner from the Crockfords case “won” at the baccarat tables at the Atlantic City casino, also back in 2012. Unfortunately, it’s turning out to be a year he’d rather forget. He’ll learn later this month how much he will have to repay.