Poker pro Phil Ivey has been found not guilty of committing fraud, but his chances of keeping the US$9.6 million he won playing baccarat at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in 2012 seem slim after it was ruled he breached casino contract in the process.
In a case watched closely by the gaming world, US District Court Judge Noel Hillman ruled that Ivey and playing partner Cheng Yin Sun had not willingly broken any rules when they used a technique called “edge sorting” to identify tiny manufacturing flaws in playing cards and give themselves an edge.
However, he agreed that turning the odds in their favor breached casino contract because it was “in complete contravention of the fundamental purpose of legalized gambling, as set forth by the CCA.” Borgata has now been given 20 days to supply a list of damages which is likely to include a claim for the US$9.6 million he banked at the time.
Judge Hillman’s ruling also casts a shadow over Ivey’s hopes of winning his appeal against London’s Crockfords Casino over £7.8 million he won using the same “edge sorting” technique just months after his Borgata sessions.
Ivey sued Crockfords in 2014 after they refused to pay out his winnings following an internal investigation. He lost, but was last year granted an appeal which is ongoing. Ironically, it was the Crockfords case that first tipped Borgata onto the possibility that they had also been duped.