An American casino is suing one of the world’s most notorious card players, alleging that he won $9.6 million while cheating at baccarat.
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, in Atlantic City, has alleged that Phillip Ivey Jr, a champion poker player, exploited a defect in its cards, which gave him an illegal advantage.
Last year, Mr Ivey was accused of using the same technique – known as “edge sorting” – at Crockfords, the venerable Mayfair gaming club, to win more than £7 million. On both occasions he was allegedly accompanied by a young Chinese associate known as Kelly, said to be an expert at identifying playing card design flaws.
The backs of the cards had been imperfectly printed, with the pattern becoming asymmetrical.
Both casinos allege that Mr Ivey and Kelly instructed dealers to arrange cards in particular ways. After several hands, valuable cards were arranged with the irregular side of the card facing in a specific direction — allowing Mr Ivey to spot them as they emerged from the dealer chute.
Mr Ivey – who has been dubbed the Tiger Woods of poker – has admitted to edge sorting at Crockfords while playing punto banco, a type of baccarat based purely on luck.
Initially, he was betting £50,000 a hand at Crockfords. However, after the cards had been identified through their flaws, he asked the casino’s permission to raise the maximum stake to £150,000.
Mr Ivey has maintained that Crockfords was well aware of how edge sorting is exploited by co-called “advantage players” such as himself. The casino should not have used faulty cards, he has argued.