Phil Ivey Found Guilty Of Contract Breach, Not Guilty Of Fraud In Borgata Case

Posted on October 31, 2016 - Last Updated on March 1, 2019

[toc]Professional gambler and poker champion Phil Ivey has been found not guilty of fraud but guilty of breach of contract in his dispute with the Borgata Casino in New Jersey.

Ivey, 39, and a female accomplice named Cheng Yin Sun, were sued by the Borgata in April 2014 after Ivey won $9.6 million playing baccarat.

The Borgata claims that Ivey cheated, which Ivey denies.

Phil Ivey’s edge sorting in baccarat

Ivey maintains that his edge sorting technique was not cheating. So what is it?

Ivey and Cheng took advantage of defects in the manufacturing of the Gemaco playing cards used at the Borgata. The casino is suing Gemaco in addition to Ivey.

The cards were cut imperfectly, meaning that the patterning on the back had small differences in the corners.

Ivey and Cheng requested the cards be dealt in a specific way and kept pointing the same way to allow them to identify the cards before they were dealt. They claimed that this was their superstition, and casinos are usually happy to accommodate the unorthodox requests of high rollers.

Using this technique, Ivey won $9.6 million playing baccarat, and the Borgata accused him of cheating.

Federal judge rules Ivey breached casino contract

Ivey was found not guilty of fraud, but Judge Noel Hillman was split on the overall decision. He claimed that Ivey and Cheng breached their contract with the casino.

In short, Judge Hillman believes that gamblers enter into a contract with a casino that the house has an edge and that in edge sorting, Ivey broke that contract.

Judge Hillman acknowledged gambling to be illegal by both state and federal governments, though many choose to “allow, regulate and tax some versions of it.

His ruling continued to say that the odds “will be set up to benefit the house… every gambler… will eventually bet and lose more than they win.”

London casino withholds Ivey’s winnings

Ivey and Cheng used edge sorting at London’s Crockfords casino to win £7.3 million (then $11 million) playing Punto Banco in 2012. The casino refused to pay him above his initial stake.

In October 2014, a UK court ruled that Ivey had cheated and sided with Crockfords. Ivey has since been given the chance to appeal after a judge ruled his case raised “an important question of law” in the UK.

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Matt Perry

A veteran of the online gambling industry, Matt Perry has worn a number of hats since he first began working in online poker and iGaming in 2007. He currently writes for a variety of publications focused on legal online gambling, and in the past has served as an editor, copywriter, content manager and reporter.

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