Poker Pro Cheated to Win $12.4M: Judge
Phil Ivey says his way of playing baccarat is legit, but a London court disagreed
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 9, 2014 10:40 AM CDT
In this July 15, 2009, file photo, Phil Ivey looks up during the World Series of Poker at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.   (AP Photo/Laura Rauch, File)

(Newser) – A London judge ruled yesterday that a professional poker player used a croupier "as his innocent agent or tool" to cheat a London casino out of $12.4 million, Bloomberg reports. Phil Ivey—described on the World Series of Poker website as "arguably the best poker player in the world" and winner of 10 WSoP tourneys—and a companion influenced the croupier to "move and deal the cards in certain ways without her knowing what she was doing" during a baccarat game at Genting's Crockfords casino in August 2012, according to Judge John Mitting. Mitting said the technique Ivey used during the game of punto banco "gave [Ivey] an advantage which the game precludes," while Ivey insists it was a perfectly legitimate way to "exploit Crockford’s failures." Ivey never got the money wired to him after he returned to America, the Guardian reports, so he sued for it.

Edge-sorting, the tactic in question, involves carefully studying the backs of cards for any unique markings or flaws to gain an advantage in the game. Ivey reportedly asked for a specific brand of cards to be used, then had his female companion ask the croupier to turn the cards a certain way, "effectively sorting the deck to make the design flaws stand out," ESPN reports. An upset Ivey insists he's no cheater and that he won fair and square. "We observe the unwritten doctrine: How do I find a legal way to beat the house?" he says. "Any method that could amount to cheating would breach the doctrine and cause you to be ostracized by your fellow players—we are all very careful to stay [on] the right side of the line, and we discuss advantage play strategies at length." An Atlantic City casino has also accused Ivey of using the same trick. (John McCain was caught playing online poker during hearings on Syria.)