The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New Jersey against Phil Ivey, the famous poker pro, claiming Ivey cheated in a baccarat game to illegally win .6 million from the casino. Genting’s Crockford’s casino in London made a similar claim last year when it accused Ivey of illegally winning almost million using the same cheating method in 2012.
The complaint alleges that Ivey used a method known as “edge-sorting” to exploit a defect in the playing cards used in a baccarat game. The cards, produced by Kansas City-based Gemaco, were irregular in their back patterns. Ivey and an associate, Chang Yin Sun, allegedly knew of the defect and manipulated the situation by making special requests of the dealers to deal the cards in a certain manner—a request normally honored for high-rolling players.
Edge sorting allows a player to “mark” the cards without actually touching, defacing or placing a physical mark. The backs of the playing cards had a repeating geometric design—rows of small white circles designed to look like the tops of cut diamonds—and when the cards were improperly cut asymmetrically during the manufacturing process, the two long edges of the cards were not identical. Borgata officials say some of them were only a half diamond or a quarter of one.
Because of the private game, which used a one-deck shoe, Ivey and his associate were able to have th4 dealer flip cards in particular way so they could identify “good” cards—Six, Seven, Eight and Nine—and adjust their bets accordingly.
Borgata is seeking the return of the $9.6 million plus court costs and attorney fees. The outcome of the case, though, is anything but certain. Edge-sorting is not technically illegal, and some court cases have decided for the player in similar circumstances.
Borgata also named Gemaco in the suit and is seeking a judgment for “breach of contract” and for “delivering defective and asymmetrical cards that were unsuitable for baccarat.”
Ivey has also faced similar accusations in a lawsuit filed in Britain’s High Court by the Malaysia-based Genting Group, a major casino operator, which made a similar claim against Ivey. That suit alleges Ivey and an accomplice won almost $12 million by cheating at baccarat at Crockfords Casino in the United Kingdom in August 2012.
Crockfords withheld $12.1 million of Ivey’s winnings. Ivey has also filed a suit against Crockfords.
In that case, Ivey has denied any misconduct, but has acknowledged that he noticed the defects in the cards, according to published reports.
Though Ivey has not commented on Borgata’s suit, he recently tweeted a link to a column by Aaron Todd at the website casinocitytimes.com titled “Top-10 reasons Phil Ivey’s baccarat play shouldn’t be called cheating.”
The column makes the point that Ivey did not personally mark the cards and the casino was responsible for protecting its own gambling equipment. It also faults the casino for acquiescing to Ivey’s requests.