World-renowned poker player Phil Ivey has been accused of cheating at baccarat by Borgata Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The casino claims that he used a tactic known as “edge sorting” to cheat the establishment for a total of $9.6 million over the course of four sessions between April and October of 2012. A lawsuit filed in April of 2014 also names Ivey’s female partner who is alleged to have given instructions to the dealer, and the manufacturer of the playing cards used at Borgata, Gemato Inc., which is located in Missouri.
A Similar Claim
This is not the first time that Ivey has been accused of cheating at baccarat. A major casino operator, the Malaysian Genting Group, has also filed a similar suit claiming that he won nearly $12 million with the help of an accomplice by cheating at baccarat. Ivey denies any misconduct and claims that his wins were the product of sheer skill; however, baccarat is a game of luck with very little skill involved. Despite its inherently low house edge, casino proprietors claim that such a win is highly uncharacteristic and unlikely to be the result of fair play.
How It Was Done
The Borgata claims that Ivey and his accomplice instructed the dealer to turn over cards that are considered favorable in baccarat – the six through nine – in a way that would allow the irregular edge of those cards to face a specific direction. Casino playing card manufacturers are held to strict standards in regard to these irregularities which explains why Gemato is also named in the suit. In rebuttal, his attorneys claim that he wanted the house to use an automatic shuffling machine, which is common in these venues, so that the way in which a card was aligned would make no difference.
The Defense’s Response
Ivey’s lawyers have responded to the lawsuit by claiming that he and his female associate were not involved in cheating in any way. They also provided proof that the six-month statute of limitations which applies to such activities had long since expired. Finally, the team of attorneys noted that, under the law, purported violations of casino review regulations can only be pursued by regulators of gambling within the state and not by the casino itself.
There is some speculation as to whether these accusations will have any impact on Ivey’s 10th World Series of Poker win that came in late June 2014. With that bracelet, he is now in second place for the most WSOP wins of all time.