Phil Ivey Countersues Borgata Atlantic City

Professional poker player Phil Ivey (l.) has filed a countersuit against the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City over the casino’s charge that he cheated at baccarat by manipulating defective cards and won $9.6 million. Ivey’s suit maintains that the card manufacturer is responsible for the defect and that the casino destroyed the cards so they can’t be used in his defense.

Phil Ivey has filed a countersuit in his yearlong battle with Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which charged that Ivey cheated at baccarat by using edge-sorting techniques at the baccarat table.

The casino charges that Ivey and a partner exploited a flaw in cards used in the game and were able to win $9.6 million. The casino sued Ivey and co-defendant Chen Yin Sun saying they used a technique called edge sorting to arrange cards coming out of a shoe in the game. The defect in the cards—made by Gemaco—created inconsistent patterns on the card backs that allowed the two to read which cards were coming next.

The countersuit charges that Gemaco was responsible for producing cards within contractual and industry standards and should be held responsible for any damages. The suit also charges that Borgata knew manufactured cards aren’t produced with perfectly symmetrical card backs.

The suit also alleges that the casino intentionally destroyed the cards “eviscerating the defendants’ ability to prove the lack of any defective cards.”

The suit is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages against the casino.

Borgata has claimed that edge sorting—where players ask for cards to be turned a certain way to better see the card back patterns—violates New Jersey casino gambling regulations.

In this case, the cards had rows of small white circles designed to look like the tops of cut diamonds, but the Borgata claims some of them were only a half diamond or a quarter of one. Ivey and his partner picked up on this discrepancy and were then able to read the cards before they came out, Borgata’s suit says.

The Borgata lawsuit claims that Ivey and his companion instructed a dealer to flip cards in particular ways, depending on whether it was a desirable card in baccarat. Bad cards would be flipped in different directions, so that after several hands of cards, the good ones were arranged in a certain manner—with the irregular side of the card facing in a specific direction—and Ivey could spot when they came out.

For his part, Ivey has not denied he noticed the flaw, but has charged that the casino was responsible for the cards it used and also that casino personnel did not have to arrange the cards in the way he asked.

Ivey lost a similar lawsuit last year in Britain’s High Court by the Malaysia-based Genting Group. The court ruled that the casino didn’t have to pay Ivey $12.4 million he had won through edge sorting.

Ivey again denied any misconduct and said he believes his strategy to exploit the casino’s “failures to take proper steps to protect themselves against a player of my ability” was a “legitimate strategy.”