Borgata Destroyed Gemaco Playing Cards in the $9.6 Million Phil Ivey Suit

It was learned this week that the Borgata casino destroyed the playing cards which were used when poker pro Phil Ivey and Cheng Yin Sun won $9.6 million playing baccarat. Those cards would be considered evidence in the case, but Borgata’s staff destroyed the cards after using them, which is the policy of the casino.

The Borgata sued Mr. Ivey last year, alleging he knowingly played with defective cards in order to gain an advantage at baccarat, which normally has a house edge of over 1%. The casino’s suit alleged that the gamblers used a process called “edge sorting” to allow them to know which cards were coming, thus giving them a distinct advantage in several high stakes gaming sessions, which took place over a number of months in 2013.

Countersuit by Phil Ivey

Lawyers for the Atlantic City casino discussed those policies in response to a countersuit last month by Phil Ivey. Ivey’s suit stated that the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa destroyed the cards to make it impossible for him to suppress evidence, thus “eviscerating the defendants’ ability to prove the lack of any defective cards.”

Gemaco Cards Were Used

The lawsuit also makes the claim that Borgata knew about the manufacturing process of the Kansas City-based card manufacturer did not produce symmetrical cards. The assymetrical design on the back of the cards are what allowed Ivy and Cheng Yin Sun to sort the cards to their advantage, claims lawyers for Borgata.

The casino “admits that there were circumstances where Gemaco, Inc. playing cards were delivered in a mis-cut fashion.” They also claimed that some of the cards were destroyed “in the normal course of business”.

Edge Sort in New Jersey

Borgata claims edge sorting is illegal under New Jerey gaming laws. The defect in the cards had to do with small white circles on the backs of cards. These circles wer designed to look like the tops of diamonds, but the lawsuit claims some where mis-cut so that some looked like half-diamonds or quarter-diamonds.

The lawsuit claims that Ivey and his partner instructed a dealer to flip cards in particular ways, depending on whether the card was desireable or not. In baccarat, the numbers 6, 7, 8, and 9 are considered good cards. Cards that did not have one of those numbers would be flipped in other directions, so the good cards would be arranged in a predictable manner (with the irregular side facing in a specific direction), allowing Ivey and friend to spot which cards were coming down the dealer’s chute.

The casino’s lawyers argue that Phil Ivey cannot countersue, because whatever injury he might have suffered was the result of his own actions.

UK Lawsuit by Genting Group

In 2014, Ivey lost a similar lawsuit in the UK’s High Court, after Malaysian casino operator Genting brought a lawsuit against the famous card player. Genting claimed Ivey had used edge sorting with Gemaco cards to win $12.4 million from their UK-based casino. The High Court ruled Genting did not have to pay Ivey his winnings.

In a third case, a casino in Singapore accused Phil Ivey of edge sorting to win millions of dollars. The case has had the gambling community discussing for a year whether Phil Ivey cheated or not. For a community which makes a hobby of playing against the house edge, many see casinos which refuse to pay when they learn they played at a disadvantage as a double standard.

Gamblers cannot use ignorance of the facts as an excuse to avoid paying their debts. Phil Ivey did not introduce the pack of cards; Borgata willingly did, at his request. Borgata and Genting take the stance that the laws prevent such methods being used, so they have the right to refuse payment.

Ivey’s Winning Streak at Borgata

It was the foreign lawsuits which tipped off Borgata that the poker player might have used the same techique to beat them out of $9.6 million. Phil Ivey had come to Borgata several times in the spring and summer of 2013, wanting to play baccarat. Using his high roller status, he called for particular conditions. He wanted to play for $50,000 a hand, needed a Chinese interpreter, and called for the use of purple Gemaco cards.

Such stipulations are not odd among high stakes gamblers, who want all many of concessions to play at a given casino. Borgata glady followed those stipulations, though it later raised the playing stakes to $100,000 to recoup its lost money from Phil Ivey. Casinos depend on gamblers to eventually lose the money they won, if they keep playing, but that did not happen in the case of Phil Ivey’s Borgata sessions.

About Cliff Spiller

Cliff Spiller has been an online writer for 14 years. He worked for Small World Marketing for a decade, where he covered topics like gaming, sports, movies, and how-to guides. Since 2014, he has blogged about US and international gambling news on,, and

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