Update on Phil Ivey’s Baccarat/Punto Banco Lawsuits

In October of 2012, superstar poker pro Phil Ivey went on a rampage playing Punto Banco at the Crockfords Casino in the UK and baccarat at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in New Jersey. While both sessions netted Ivey huge winnings (£7.8 million at Crockfords, $9.6 million at Borgata), both sessions also netted Ivey lawsuits.

Basis for Lawsuits
puntobanco_phil iveyIn both cases, Ivey was accused of “edge-sorting”. Edge-sorting is paramount with card counting, except it is done by recognizing a printing pattern on the back of the playing cards as the come out of an automated sorter/dealer. Those imperfections can give away the value of at least some of the cards. In both situations, the casinos claim Ivey was aware of a printing error committed by the playing card manufacturers. It is important to note that edge-sorting is not illegal, it is only grounds to be banned because of unfair play.

Filing of the Crockfords Lawsuit
In the UK, Crockfords Casino withheld his winnings pending investigation. When the funds were held for an extended period of time, Ivey filed suit against the casino claiming they had no legal basis to withhold his winnings. He even admitted to edge-sorting, but stated it was the casino’s fault they didn’t recognize the flaw themselves and that he violated no laws by taking advantage of the opportunity. As of September 2014, the lawsuit is still pending.


Filing of the Borgata Lawsuit
In 2013, Borgata Casino filed suit against Ivey making the claim of unfair play. He had already cashed out and the casino wants its money back. In July 2014, Ivey’s attorney filed a “motion to dismiss” the suit, claiming Ivey won on “sheer skill.” As of late September 2014, neither the original suit nor the motion to dismiss had been heard in District Court.

Regardless of the outcome, casinos and players alike will be watching for a decision on both continents. With such a high-profile situation, the outcome is sure to set a precedent for future issues related to players using questionable methods to even the playing field.