As reported last week here at Poker News Daily, poker professional Phil Ivey and the Borgata were involved with dueling motions regarding Ivey paying back the $10.1 million he won from the casino in the now-infamous 2012 “edge sorting” case. A District Court judge has made his decision regarding the case and, unfortunately, it doesn’t end well for Ivey.
A Tale of Dueling Motions
In August, attorneys for both Ivey and the Borgata were active in presenting motions before Judge Noel Hillman. In both cases, it was regarding the earlier court decision rendered against Ivey that he would have to give back the $10.1 million that he won during a baccarat spree at the Borgata in 2012 (more on this later). Instead of paying the money back, however, Ivey stated that he would be placed in personal and professional hardship with having to pay the money back in its entirety, Ivey’s attorneys argued. They also pointed out several areas where they believed that they had a case for appeal, although they have not stated that they will do so.
The Borgata responded by saying that Ivey wouldn’t be prevented from playing poker, citing his play at this year’s World Series of Poker and his exploits overseas as evidence that Ivey wasn’t lacking financing. A quick search of the Hendon Mob database proves the Borgata’s point as Ivey has over $2.4 million in earnings for 2018 alone and has lifetime earnings of over $26 million. In their motion, the Borgata showed this evidence and remarked that Ivey “(was) not in danger of being prevented from playing poker.”
All Rise…Here Comes the Judge
Hillman reviewed both motions and, in the end, sided with the Borgata. In issuing his decision, Hillman stated that Ivey and his accomplice, Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun, “have provided no proof to show how the ‘purely economic injury, compensable in money’ would threaten the existence of their business. Defendants simply say that returning the $10,130,000 paid to them would have ‘a devastating impact.’ Without any evidence to support their claim…defendants have not met their burden to warrant a stay of the judgment.” With that decision, Hillman ordered Ivey to pay the Borgata the $10.1 million immediately, even though Ivey’s attorneys have yet to decide whether they will be appealing to a higher court in the case.
What a Long, Strange Trip it’s Been
The case itself dates back to 2012 when Ivey and Sun decided they would play baccarat at the Borgata. After issuing several specific demands, including using certain types of cards, having a dealer who spoke Mandarin Chinese, and other “gambler quirks” that the Borgata was more than happy to accept, Ivey and Sun played four different sessions of baccarat. It was during these games that the crux of the case took place.
Allegedly when they found a card that was favorable to them, Sun would indicate to the dealer to turn the card 180 degrees, supposedly as a “superstition” of Ivey’s. The move, in reality, was to give an advantage to Ivey. Using a method called ‘edge sorting’ – finding cards that were slightly off in their printing that, to a sharp-eyed player, basically marked the card so the player would know what it was – the decks gradually worked to the advantage of Ivey once the cards were satisfactorily positioned. Ivey allegedly was able to utilize this technique to earn the $10 million from the Borgata, with the extra $130,000 coming from a trip to the craps pit that Ivey used the money on.
Where Do We Go from Here?
Ivey’s course is a tough one. He can appeal the case, but it is highly unlikely that the appeal will be successful – only about 10% of civil cases of this nature are reversed. He could pay the Borgata back, of course, but it is presumable that even Ivey doesn’t just have $10 million lying around for such instances. The Borgata could also get aggressive by attempting property seizures in the case to get their repayment, although that is an extreme course of action which wouldn’t reflect well on them. The ball is basically in Ivey’s court at this point, with no clear indications from him or his attorneys as to which direction they will head.