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Poker Champ Phil Ivy

Phil Ivy, the American professional poker player and winner of ten World Series of Poker bracelets, has lost his court case against Crockfords Club in London over a cheating claim. Ivy challenged the club for its decision to withhold £7.7 million in winnings because of his use of ‘edge-sorting’, a technique which the club regarded as cheating.

As reported by UK news publication, The Guardian, the 38-year-old sued the casino over a two-day game of Baccarat in August 2012. Ivey was reportedly told that the winnings would be wired to him, but never arrived. He did, however, receive back his £1 million stake.

The technique of edge-sorting involves learning the face value of a card by studying and then recognizing slight flaws on the back and edges of cards. Genting Casinos UK (which owns over 40 UK casinos, including Crockfords) does not recognise ‘edge-sorting’ as a legitimate strategy, and therefore claimed they had no liability to pay him.

Ivy told The Guardian, about learning of the casino’s decision not to pay him, “I was upset as I had played an honest game and won fairly… My integrity is infinately more important to me than a big win, which is why I have brought these proceedings to demonstrate that I have been unjustly treated.” He added that when discussing advantage play strategies with other professional players, they are always careful to stay on the right side of the rules.

Ivy said, “I believe that what we did was a legitimate strategy and we did nothing more than exploit Crockford’s failures to take proper steps to protect themselves against a player of my ability.”

The judge in this case clearly felt differently. In his ruling the judge said, “The fact that Mr Ivey was genuinely convinced that he did not cheat and that the practice commanded considerable support from others was not determinative of the question of whether it amounted to cheating.” He explained that Ivey had gained himself an advanatage and did so by using a croupier as his innocent agent or tool, persuading her to turn some of the cards in the dealing shoe.

The judge went on to explain that they were therefore not merely taking advantage of an error on the dealer’s part, or an anomoly practiced by the casino, rather they were doing it in circumstances knowing that the dealer and the casino did not know the consequences of what she had done at his instigation.

He concluded, “This is, in my view, cheating for the purpose of civil law.”

Although the judge acknowledged Ivey as a truthful witness, the case was dismissed and Ivey was refused permission to appeal, although he can renew his application to the Court of Appeal directly.

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