Sep 26, 2013
Phil Ivey vs. Crockfords Casino: Poker Pro admits to "Edge Sorting" to win £7.8m
By RTR Dennis
In what may be the most high-profile court case between a player and casino ever, Phil Ivey made a big revelation in his battle with Crockfords Casino. According to court documents obtained by the Daily Mail UK, Ivey admits to using 'edge sorting' to win £7.8 million in a high stakes punto banco game.
Edge sorting is an advantage play method whereby players identify flaws in a deck and 'read' card backs to predict what cards are coming next. Additionally, players will request that the cards are turned in a certain way so asymmetrical flaws can be spotted more easily. In Crockfords case, they were using "full bleed" card designs, which most casinos avoid because they are more susceptible to printing flaws.
Seeing as how there is nothing inherently illegal about edge sorting, Ivey's lawsuit states that Crockfords should still pay him the £7.8 million he won last year. But up until now, Crockfords has only returned his original £1 million stake and is keeping the winnings. London's oldest casino alleges that Ivey and his Chinese companion, Kelly, “operated a scam" in order to win.
Crockfords' rebuttal to the lawsuit claims that Ivey and Kelly requested a new deck after every hand until they found a flawed one. From here, Kelly asked the dealer to keep turning cards 180 degrees so that she and the poker pro could read them easier. The pair also requested that the same flawed deck be used over the three-day span that they played punto banco at Crockfords.
One more concession that the pair asked for included having the maximum bet raised from £50,000 to £150,000. Crockfords once again complied, which allowed the 9-time WSOP champion to maximize his edge with the flawed deck. Because the casino kept catering to his demands and knew about edge sorting, Ivey believes that they only have themselves to blame for losing so much money.
With both sides having presented their case, it's up to the court to decide if Ivey's advantage play could be construed as cheating or if Crockfords simply lost and needs to pay up.