Phil Ivey Cheating Row with Crockford’s Takes a New Turn

It’s been more than a year since American poker legend Phil Ivey won £7.8 million playing the game of punto banco, a baccarat variation, in a tony London casino called Crockford’s.

And it’s been more than a year since Ivey failed to collect those winnings due to what the casino deemed suspicious circumstances surrounding Ivey’s hot streak, which took place over a two day period in August of 2012.

The story of Ivey’s quest to capture his winnings broke earlier this year, after it was reported that Ivey was suing Crockford’s in an effort to get the casino to pay up.

In a new twist, Ivey is now admitting that he did use an advantage technique called edge sorting to help him win, however he contends that the casino essentially let him do it.

Punto banco mostly a game of chance, not skill

British tabloid The Daily Mail has reported that Ivey has come out and said that he was employing edge sorting to identify cards, giving him an advantage in punto banco, a game based mostly in pure luck. Edge sorting involves observing imperfections in cards that naturally occur as a result of the manufacturing process and noting the position of cards in the deck due to those irregularities.

At the time that the news of Ivey’s dispute with Crockford’s first surfaced, many gambling experts rushed to Ivey’s defense by pointing out that cheating at punto banco would be nearly impossible due to its basis in chance. However, because Ivey and his companion, an Asian female named Kelly who was said to be banned from other casinos in the Mayfair district of London, were able to pick out inconsistencies in the cards, they were able to bet accordingly and win big.

And because of Ivey’s status as a famous high-stakes gambler, dealers at Crockford’s were willing to accommodate requests to use specific decks and to change the orientation of specific cards, according to The Daily Mail.

Edge sorting is known advantage technique, Ivey says

For his part, Ivey maintains that edge sorting is a known technique, certainly familiar to the Crockford’s staff.

In a claim published by the paper, Ivey said, “Kelly would ask the dealer to reveal each card in turn by lifting the edge furthest from the dealer so that Kelly could identify whether the card was a seven, eight, or nine – the key cards in punto banco.”

“The first time that Kelly identified a key card, she told the dealer that it was a ‘good’ card which she wanted the dealer to rotate in the opposite direction to all the other cards and the dealer complied with the request,” the claim continues.

Casino maintains that Ivey was in the wrong

As such, Ivey asserts that the casino must have known he and Kelly were edge sorting, and wants Crockford’s to hand over his winnings. Furthermore, Ivey points to his public reputation as an advantage gambler, something Crockford’s management most certainly would have been of.

The casino, Britain’s oldest, did return the £1 million that Ivey, a native of California who has the nickname the “Tiger Woods of Poker,” used as his initial stake. Ivey initiated the lawsuit against Crockford’s earlier this year after the casino refused to deposit his winnings directly into his bank account as he had instructed.

For the time being, Crockford’s seems unwilling to budge from its position that one of the most famous faces in American poker is a cheater. The casino has said that Ivey “operated a scam.”

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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