May 22, 2013
Crockfords alleges Phil Ivey read Back of Cards to win £7.8m
By RTR Dennis
After months of waiting for his punto banco winnings, poker pro Phil Ivey leveled a £7.8 million lawsuit against Crockfords Casino. Ivey's stance is that Crockfords continues to keep the fortune he won through punto banco, despite having no solid evidence of cheating. Crockfords has finally given their position on the lawsuit too after alleging that Ivey earned the money by "reading" the backs of cards.
Normally players won't notice a difference in the backs of cards because they are supposed to be equally designed and symmetrical. But according to the Daily Mail, the cards used in Ivey's punto banco game had a flawed design. Thanks to a mistake made during the manufacturing process, the "geometric pattern was not symmetrical" on the card-backs.
The Daily Mail reported that if the cards were turned 180 degrees, an advantage player could potentially figure out the values thanks to the design flaw (a.k.a. playing the turn). If Ivey were doing this, he would've been mostly looking for nines and eights, and possibly sevens and sixes.
Another key point in this lawsuit involves a woman who accompanied Ivey to the table. She's been banned by two other casinos for advantage play and asked the croupier to rotate cards 180 degrees because Ivey is "superstitious." Seeing as how rotating cards wouldn't normally offer an advantage, the dealer had no problem accommodating the woman's request. Both Ivey and the woman also asked that the casino not destroy the "lucky" deck during the three-day span he played punto banco at Crockfords; the casino complied since this is a common request.
One thing that's unclear about Crockfords' allegations is how Ivey knew about the flawed deck. The two theories are either that he was tipped off or was observant enough to notice the non-symmetrical card-backs.
As for his dream run in punto banco, the nine-time WSOP champ won the £7.8 million last August. He began with a £1 million stake and was down £500,000 at one point; however, he rebounded to post a £2.6 million profit after the first day. Ivey then collected a combined £5.2 million in profits over the next two days.
Following his successful three-day run, Crockfords officials said that they'd wire the £7.8 million once the bank holiday was finished. But they instead began an investigation and decided to hold the money after reviewing video surveillance for hours. The lawsuit will now be decided in England's High Court of Justice.