Atlantic City casino claims poker champ Phil Ivey cheated to win $9.6 million
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — An Atlantic City casino is suing poker champion Phillip Ivey Jr., claiming he cheated his way to more than $9.6 million in winnings.
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa alleges in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that Ivey exploited a defect in the line of cards used by the casino to increase his chances of winning in multiple sessions of the card game Baccarat.
The Borgata claims that Ivey used a technique called “edge sorting” to identify cards by memorizing the unique markings on the back of the card.
Gemaco Inc., the manufacturer of the cards used at the casino, was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
“The pattern used by Borgata on the back of the cards purchased from Gemaco is required to be perfectly symmetrical so that the back of one card is indistinguishable from the backs of all other cards,” according to court papers.
During play, Ivey and card player Cheng Yin Sun fixated on pattern flaws on the backs of the cards. The two asked to “turn” cards so that they could be distinguished from all others cards in the deck, according to court papers.
Gemaco did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment.
“We believe the lawsuit speaks for itself, and in accordance with company policy, we will not be commenting any further on pending litigation,” Liza Costandino, a spokeswoman for the Borgata, told CNN.
Ivey could not be reached for comment.
According to the court documents, Ivey set up four sessions of Baccarat in 2012. For each session, he requested a private area in the pit, an automatic shuffler for the cards and a dealer who spoke Mandarin Chinese.
Ivey was accompanied by Sun, who communicated with the card dealer in Mandarin to instruct the dealer on how to turn the cards as they were dealt, the lawsuit alleges. Once Ivey identified the good and bad cards based on their markings, he was able to tilt the odds of the game in his favor in 2012, winning $2.4 million in April, $1.6 million in May, $4.8 million in July and $825,000 in October of that year.
Attempts to reach Sun were unsuccessful Sunday.
“Ivey’s true motive, intention, and purpose in negotiating these playing arrangements was to create a situation in which he could surreptitiously manipulate what he knew to be a defect in the playing cards in order to gain an unfair advantage over Borgata,” according to court papers.
This alleged incident of cheating is not the first time Ivey had been accused of using “edge sorting” techniques, according to the lawsuit.
In August 2012, Ivey was accused of cheating at Crockfords casino in London in a game of Punto Banco, which is similar to Baccarat, according to the suit. The Borgata suit claims they confronted Ivey about the Crockfords allegations on his October visit, and the poker player “did not want to talk about it.”
According to his website, Ivey began his career as professional gambler at 17 using a fake ID to enter casinos in Atlantic City. Since then he has won nine bracelets at the World Series of Poker. Ivey represents other elite high-stakes poker players on his own “Team Ivey.”