Nov 01, 2017
Phil Ivey Loses £7.7m Edge Sorting Case – What Will He Do Now?
By RTR Dennis
For five years, Phil Ivey has been battling Crockfords casino over £7,700,000 in baccarat winnings. And the famed gambler recently lost his appeal, with the UK Supreme Court ruling in favor of the London casino.
Crockfords promised Ivey that they would wire his winnings in October 2012. But they instead withheld the money and reviewed their security footage. Crockfords only returned Ivey's original £1 million stake after discovering that he used an advantage-play technique called edge sorting.
Let’s discuss more on why Ivey didn’t receive his winnings along with his current options after losing this big case.
UK Supreme Court Agrees that Edge Sorting is Cheating
Edge sorting has been at the forefront of this case ever since it began several years ago. This advantage-play technique involves players spotting imperfections on card-backs, then using this information to predict card values.
Ivey's accomplice, Cheung Yin Sun, perfected this technique and relayed the information to him during their baccarat sessions. They also requested a Mandarin-speaking Chinese dealer and that cards be rotated 180 degrees, the latter of which allowed Sun to spot imperfections more easily.
Crockfords withheld Ivey's winnings because they felt that all of this went beyond reasonable advantage play. Ivey believed differently and took his case to the High Court in 2014. Judge Mitting called the poker pro a "truthful witness," but ultimately declared that edge sorting is cheating in terms of civil law.
In 2016, Ivey tried again in the Court of Appeal. However, they sided with Mitting and ruled that his advantage play went too far. Citing the Gambling Act 2005, Lady Justice Arden said that a player can still cheat “without dishonesty or intention to deceive, depending on the circumstances it may be enough that he simply interferes with the process of the game.”
This year, the 40-year-old took his case to the UK Supreme Court. The five justices upheld the Court of Appeal's decision and agreed with Arden. Here's what the UK Supreme Court tweeted about their decision:
"The Supreme Court unanimously dismisses the appeal. Mr. Ivey's actions were positive steps to fix the deck and therefore constituted cheating. The test of dishonesty is that used in civil actions. There is no requirement that the defendant must appreciate that what he has done is dishonest."
What Ivey Had to Say on the Decision
Obviously Phil Ivey isn't happy about losing his appeal for the second time. And the UK Supreme Court decision basically shuts the door on further appeals.
Ivey is happy that Justice Mitting kept his integrity intact during the ruling. But he's disappointed that none of the judges understood the concept of advantage play. Here's a look at Ivey's full statement:
"It makes no sense that the UK Supreme Court has ruled against me, in my view, contrary to the facts and any possible logic involved in our industry. At the time I played at Crockfords, I believed that edge-sorting was a legitimate advantage play technique and I believe that more passionately than ever today."
"As Mr Justice Mitting found, this is not just my personal view but one that 'commands considerable support from others' and I am grateful to the Supreme Court for confirming Mr Justice Mitting’s finding that I was a truthful witness in this respect and that this was my honest belief. As a professional gambler, my integrity is everything to me."
"It is because of my sense of honour and respect for the manner in which gambling is undertaken by professional gamblers such as myself that I have pursued this claim for my unpaid winnings all the way to the Supreme Court. It is very frustrating that the UK judges have no experience or understanding of casinos and Advantage Play, or the ongoing battle between casinos and professional gamblers attempting to level the playing field. If they had, I am very confident the result in this case would have been in my favour."
Where Does Ivey Go from Here?
This decision is brutal for Ivey because it's the second time that he's lost out on edge-sorting winnings. He also had a $10 million case against Atlantic City's Borgata go against him. Ivey is in the process of appealing this decision, although New Jersey judges will likely refer to the UK Supreme Court's decision.
Other problems for Ivey include the fact that he lost almost $9 million in online poker from 2012-2016. He also stopped producing new content on his poker training website, IveyLeague.com. And the world-renowned gambler had to pay his ex-wife, Luciaetta, millions of dollars in a 2012 divorce settlement.
Life isn't all bad for Ivey, though, because he's won over $10 million in live poker tournaments within the past five years. He's also rumored to be a big lifetime winner in the huge cash games in Macau and other Asian gambling hotspots. My guess is that he'll return to the juiciest live cash games because the online game is so tough these days.
Losing out on over £15 million in baccarat winnings will definitely hurt. But it's not like Ivey will be going broke any time soon.