Phil Ivey Calls for Final Judgment on the Borgata Edge-Sorting Case
Phil Ivey has asked a federal judge to reclassify his summary judgment in the Borgata edge-sorting case as a “final judgment”. That classification will allow Ivey to appeal the decision to the US Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.
The decision, rendered by US District Court Judge Noel Hillman in October 2016, called for Phil Ivey and Cheng Yin Sun to pay back Borgata nearly $10 million in baccarat winnings. Ivey and Sun won $9.6 million from the Borgata in a series of 2012 gaming sessions, but the judge ruled that the two violated state laws by using edge-sorting techniques to receive an advantage.
Decision Expected February 21
Judge Hillman is expected to make a final judgment on Ivey’s request on February 21. If Hillman acceeds to the request, then an appeal will be filed with the Third Circuit Court in short order. The court would hear the case sometime in the coming months, then adjourn to make a decision later in the year. Until an appeal is heard, Phil Ivey would not have to repay his winnings.
How Edge-Sorting Works
Edge-sorting is a technique used in baccarat when cards are marked. The player sorts cards in a way that allows the gambler to know a card is in a basic range of numbers, if they have a sharp eye to spot the flaws in a card. The house edge is eliminated and the player has an advantage, instead.
In the case of the 2012 sessions, Phil Ivey and Cheng Yin Sun were aware that purple decks of cards produced by Gemaco, a Kansas City-based playing card manufacturer, were flawed. Cards in a certain number range had a slight flaw on their backside, so a player could tell cards which were in that range.
The Borgata Baccarat Sessions
Phil Ivey, who is one of the best professional poker players in the world, used his high roller status to make certain demands of the Borgata casino in Atlantic City. When he approached the high-stakes baccarat table, he negotiated the use of purple Gemaco cards, a dealer who was fluent in Chinese, cards sorted according to Cheng Yin Sun’s requests, and baccarat played at $50,000 a hand.
Borgata, unaware of the Gemaco mixup and confident in its house edge, agreed to those conditions. Over several sessions in May and June 2012, Phil Ivey and his gambling partner won several million dollars at the Borgata baccarat tables. Borgata’s management lured Ivey and Sun back for an August 2012 session, in which they played at $100,000-a-hand and won even more money. In all, the two won $9.6 million.
Crockfords Edge-Sorting Case
The two likely would have gotten away with it, but Phil Ivey was not as successful during a gaming session at Crockfords Casino in London in the same year. At Crockfords, Ivey used purple Gemaco playing cards and edge-sorting to win £7.8 million in punto banco winnings. Staff at Crockfords determined something suspicious was happening and refused to pay the winnings.
Even then, Ivey might have pocketed the cash from the Borgata sessions, but he sued Crockfords in the London High Court for his £7.8 million in winnings. That case got the attention of Borgata, which determined Ivey and Sun had used the same ploy to win the millions from them. Meanwhile, the London High Court ruled that Crockfords did not have to pay Ivey and Sun their winnings. While the UK court said Phil Ivey had not been dishonest, they said that edge-sorting constituted cheating.
Borgata Edge-Sorting Lawsuit
Borgata filed a lawsuit against Ivey, claiming he cheated and they wanted their money back. The Atlantic City casino sued for $15 million, claiming they should receive not only what they lost, but also what they probably would have won, if the sessions were fair. Judge Hillman ruled that Ivey and Sun violated New Jersey state gaming laws by edge-sorting the baccarat cards, but rejected Borgata’s claim they deserved $15 million. Instead, the judge ruled that Ivey needed to pay back the $9.6 million in winnings, along with several hundred thousand dollars in comps the casino offered him as a high roller.
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