Newly inducted Poker Hall of Famer, the legendary Phil Ivey, will not be receiving his winnings from five years ago from London’s Crockfords Club casino. On Wednesday, the British Supreme Court ruled against Ivey in his appeal of his “edge sorting” case against the casino, meaning that he will never see the £7.7 million he won in a lengthy punto banco session back in 2012.
For those unfamiliar, Ivey and his playing partner “Kelly” Cheung Yin Sun discovered that the cards used by Crockfords were slightly miscut, resulting in the pattern on the card backs being asymmetrical. The difference was very subtle, essentially unnoticeable to most people, but Ivey and Sun saw it.
In a similar scheme to one they engaged in at the Borgata, Ivey and Sun asked the dealer to rotate specific key cards 180 degrees after they were revealed before putting them back into the shoe. Because the automatic shuffler did not change the orientation of the cards, all rotated cards remained as such when they were dealt again. And because the card backs were asymmetrical, Ivey and Sun could see which ones were rotated and therefore important cards to the hand. They would know the approximate value of the top card in the shoe before the hand started and therefore could adjust their bets to take advantage of this information.
Ivey also requested to have the same deck used the next day (so that the rotated cards stayed that way) and since he was wagering millions of dollars, the casino complied.
After Ivey and Sun won the £7.7 million, the casino refused to pay up, as it had finally caught on to what they were doing (it helped that there was a payment delay because of a bank holiday). And thus the legal battle began.
The Supreme Court in ruling on the appeal said that Ivey’s “carefully planned and executed sting” violated the integrity of the punto banco game. Though he never touched the cards he convinced the casino and dealer to essentially “fix the deck” for him. By doing this, Supreme Court Judge Anthony Hughes said he was cheating.
In a statement, Ivey said, “At the time I played at Crockfords, I believed that edge-sorting was a legitimate advantage-play technique and I believe that more passionately than ever today. As a professional gambler, my integrity is everything to me.”
In response to the unanimous ruling, Genting Casinos UK President Paul Willcock said, “We are delighted that the High Court, the Court of Appeal and now the Supreme Court have all found in Genting’s favor, confirming that we acted fairly and properly at all times and that Mr. Ivey’s conduct did indeed amount to cheating.”
Though Ivey has been denied his £7.7 million in winnings from the punto banco games, Crockfords did refund him the money he wagered.