Professional gambler and poker champion Phil Ivey has been granted permission by the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom to appeal the decision made against him in favour of Crockfords Casino, London in 2016.
Ivey won £7.8 million (then roughly $12 million) playing Punto Banco, a form of baccarat, at Crockfords in August 2012. The casino withheld his winnings after learning Ivey used a form of advantage play known as “edge-sorting” in order to increase his chances of winning.
“Last November’s Court of Appeal ruling made no sense to me,” Ivey said. “The original trial judge ruled that I was not dishonest and none of the three Appeal Court judges disagreed, and yet the decision went against me.”
“I am so pleased that the Supreme Court has granted me permission to fight for what I genuinely believe is the right thing to do… for the entire gaming industry.”
Ivey sued Crockfords, who had refunded his £1 million stake but refused to give him his winnings, but lost in the UK High Court and the Court of Appeal.
The UK Supreme Court is the UK’s highest court of appeal and only hears cases which raise issues of public importance. Their decision allows Ivey to appeal the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of his original appeal.
What is edge-sorting?
Edge-sorting is a method of advantage play used by players in order to overcome the house edge on casino card games.
Using edge-sorting, players exploit imperfections and defects in playing cards in order to beat the casino. In this case, Ivey and his partner, Cheung Yin Sun, were able to use an asymmetrical pattern on the back of Gemaco playing cards to determine the value of the next card to be dealt before it was turned over.
Ivey and Sun asked the casino to keep certain cards rotated a certain way and use an automatic shuffling machine so as not to rotate them, ostensibly owing to gambler’s superstition. In fact, they were rotating favourable cards so that they could be distinguished from poor cards, even when face-down.
Ivey, Crockfords and the Borgata
In addition to the £7.8 million Ivey won from Crockfords, he and Sun also won $9.6 million at the Borgata Resort and Casino in Atlantic City using the same technique playing baccarat and putting his winnings to use at the craps tables.
In this instance, Ivey was able to take his winnings after the session. He was later sued by the Borgata, which is also suing card manufacturers Gemaco. The courts recently ruled Ivey was to return his winnings to the New Jersey casino. Ivey’s legal team plans on appealing.