After a drawn out civil trial that saw both sides reveal the dirty underbelly of the gambling world, poker professional Phil Ivey has lost his civil suit against the Borgata in Atlantic City, per the New Jersey Law Journal and writer Charles Toutant.
In a decision released on Thursday, Ivey and his playing partner Cheng Yin Sun were ordered by U. S. District Judge Noel Hillman to pay the Borgata damages totaling $10.1 million. The judge could have ordered more damages as the Borgata wanted (the casino issued their statement saying they would have won more from Ivey if he had been losing), but Hillman rejected that notion as “too speculative” for the case. After hearing all the evidence in the case, it came down to a simple fact, according to Hillman.
Noting that Ivey and Sun admitted to using “edge sorting” – picking out slight cutting errors in a deck of cards and having them “adjusted” so they would know it when seen again – Hillman said that their actions was a violation of a ban on marked cards. Ivey and Sun believed they were playing an “advantage” (the ability to use information to shift the odds in the player’s favor), but Hillman didn’t buy the story. In fact, he went so far as to give the Borgata more than what Ivey won ($9 million) in those four baccarat stops because some of the money won was used in other games.
The entirety of the case was a demonstration of what the casinos will do to bring in a “high roller” like Ivey and what he will do – the “edge sorting” – to garner an edge against the casinos.
A main contention of Ivey’s case was that he never touched any card to “mark” them in any way. Ivey asked the casino to provide him a private playing area, a dealer that spoke Mandarin Chinese, a specific type of cards and an automatic shuffler (the automatic shuffler wouldn’t change the positioning of the cards). During play, Sun would indicate to the dealer that an advantageous card would be turned 180 degrees, allegedly as a “superstition” of Ivey’s but in reality so that they could identify the card when it came up during another deal. This, in Ivey and Sun’s eyes, meant they weren’t “manipulating” the cards and that the casino was acquiescing yet again to another of their demands for play.
During those four periods of play in 2012, Ivey racked up winnings of $9.6 million and walked away with the money. Then the Borgata staff learned of Ivey’s lawsuit with a London casino, Crockfords, where he allegedly took the same actions and beat them for $12.4 million. In the Crockfords case, they denied payment of the winnings almost immediately and instead fought it out in court, thus Ivey never received the money. That case is currently under appeal after the British courts ruled against Ivey.
The future of the New Jersey case is unknown at this time. Ivey does have the option of appealing to a higher court, but it is rare that a civil judgment such as this would be overruled on appeal. Ivey and the Borgata could also negotiate a settlement in the case but, with the decision in their pocket, it is unlikely that the Borgata will settle for less than what the judge has stipulated.
Poker News Daily will continue to monitor this decision and report as necessary.