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Phil Ivey loses ‘cheating’ appeal at Supreme Court

Ten-

phil ivey
time winner of the World Series of Poker Phil Ivey today lost his legal appeal against London’s Crockfords Club at the UK Supreme Court.

Justices were asked to examine an earlier 2016 court of appeal ruling that found Ivey had cheated the casino out of £7.7m in a version of baccarat known as Punto Banco in August 2012. At the time, Ivey’s winnings were withheld over claims that he had used a technique known as ''edge-sorting'', which aims to provide the player with a degree of ''first card advantage”.

Edge-sorting involves identifying small differences in the pattern on the reverse of playing cards and exploiting that information to increase the chances of winning. Ivey did not personally touch any cards, but persuaded the croupier to rotate the most valuable cards by intimating that he was superstitious.

Genting, which owns the Crockfords Club, stated that this technique was not a legitimate strategy, while Ivey maintained that he won fairly. Considering these allegations the High Court found Ivey guilty of cheating, with Judge John Mitting stating that: “He gave himself an advantage which the game precludes,” before going on to rule that “This is in my view cheating.”

Ivey challenged this decision and the case was referred to the UK’s Supreme Court, which today voted unanimously to uphold the earlier judgement. In a statement announcing this decision, the court said: “It is an essential element of Punto Banco that it is a game of pure chance. Mr Ivey staged a carefully planned and executed sting. If he had secretly gained access to the shoe of cards and personally rearranged them that would be considered cheating.

“He accomplished the same results by directing the actions of the croupier and tricking her into thinking that what she did was irrelevant. Mr Ivey’s actions were positive steps to fix the deck and therefore constituted cheating.”

Responding to the ruling, Paul Willcock, President and Chief Operating Officer of Genting UK, said; “We are delighted that the High Court, the Court of Appeal and now the Supreme Court have all found in Genting's favour, confirming that we acted fairly and properly at all times and that Mr Ivey's conduct did indeed amount to cheating. This entirely vindicates Genting’s decision not to pay Mr Ivey, a decision that was not taken lightly.”

Expressing his dismay at the Supreme Court decision Ivey said: “It makes no sense that the UK Supreme Court has ruled against me, in my view, contrary to the facts and any possible logic involved in our industry.

“At the time I played at Crockfords, I believed that edge-sorting was a legitimate Advantage Play technique and I believe that more passionately than ever today. As a professional gambler, my integrity is everything to me. It is because of my sense of honour and respect for the manner in which gambling is undertaken by professional gamblers such as myself that I have pursued this claim for my unpaid winnings all the way to the Supreme Court.

“It is very frustrating that the UK judges have no experience or understanding of casinos and Advantage Play, or the ongoing battle between casinos and professional gamblers attempting to level the playing field. If they had, I am very confident the result in this case would have been in my favour.”

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