Phil Ivey Loses Chances of Collecting $12.4 Million Winnings from UK’s Crockfords Casino

The judge presiding over the UK lawsuit filed in 2013 by American poker pro Phil Ivey vs. Crockford Casino, handed a ruling that sided with the latter. The UK judge dismissed Ivey’s petition for the court to order Crockfords Casino to pay the $12.4 million in accumulated winnings, which Ivey won from playing Punto Blanco, a variation of the baccarat card game.

The court magistrate viewed Ivey’s “edge-sorting technique” as a form of cheating that gave the American professional card player an unfair advantage against the house. The dismissal of the case also included denying ivey permission to file an appeal for contesting the verdict.

Edge sorting is a technique used by some card players once they recognize the existence of cards with a slightly different back pattern, which should not be the case as the pattern appearing on the back of each card comprising a single deck should be symmetrical or the same throughout.

In Ivey’s case, he had a companion at hand to help him sort out the pattern-defective cards. Moreover, he put forward special requests to the dealer, which included placing the cards dealt in such a way that would give them a better view of the pattern discrepancy. He also asked that an automatic shuffler be used. The pattern difference and the special requests therefore gave Ivey and his companion the advantage of knowing the value hidden behind the defective design. In fact, Ivey admitted to using the edge-sorting technique when playing high-stakes baccarat at land-based casinos as he asserts that it is a legal strategy. 

In August 2012, Ivey and a female companion played baccarat at the Crockfords Casino in London’s Mayfair District and won a total of $12.4 million, since he placed bets that reached up to $150,000 per hand. Although the London casino initially handed the 36-year old professional poker player a receipt for the winnings, the casino management later refused to deposit the winnings in Ivey’s casino account. Apparently, the Genting-owned casino was able to discern Ivey’s use of the edge sorting strategy during the August 2012 session. The casino though, returned to Ivey the $ 1 million he used as stake during the game.   

After learning of the judge’s ruling, Genting Crockfords London released a statement by way of email, stating that the ruling vindicates the actions they had taken regarding Phil Ivey’s case, which demonstrated the importance of maintaining the casino’s “exemplary reputation for fair, honest, and professional conduct.” Still, the UK casino remains tight-lipped about the exact reason of their refusal to pay the American poker pro’s winnings.   

The outcome of the lawsuit filed by Phil Ivey against Genting’s Crockfords Casino might not be the end of the edge sorting controversy involving the WSOP poker legend, since it sets a precedent that could lead to more unfavorable results. As it is, Atlantic City’s Borgata Casino had filed a lawsuit against Ivey in an effort to recoup the $9.6 million, which the Borgata paid to the poker pro as winnings from playing baccarat also in 2012, and while using the edge sorting strategy against the Borgata house. Borgata filed the lawsuit after learning of Ivey’s edge sorting entanglement with London’s Crockfords Casino,

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