Phil Ivey, champion poker player and winner of ten World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets, has filed suit in New Jersey claiming that Borgata’s lawsuit against him is frivolous. Further, Ivey’s legal team claims the casino fraudulently and negligently destroyed evidence needed in his defense.
The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City filed the original lawsuit last year against Ivey and his co-defendant Cheung Yin Sun seeking reimbursement of the $9.6 million they won playing baccarat in 2012 utilizing an advantage known as “edge sorting.”
Edge sorting is a practice used by advantage players to exploit pattern inconsistencies visible on the backs of certain brands of casino playing cards. During play, the gamblers request the dealers turn favorable cards 180 degrees for “superstitious reasons”. Since the casino’s automatic shuffling machines only shuffle but don’t rotate, players who have keen eyesight are then able to identify those favorable cards during future sessions and place their bets accordingly.
Because Ivey is a known high-stakes gambler, he was well-positioned to negotiate special arrangements prior to the alleged incidents. His requests included being provided with a private playing pit as well as a specific brand and color of playing cards (purple Gemaco).
The casino alleges that Ivey’s play was akin to the use of an illegal cheating device, whereas no device was actually used other than the casino’s own shuffling machine. Ivey, on the other hand, openly admits to his strategic use of edge sorting, and stands by his claim that not only did the casino know of Gemaco’s imperfections, but that they knowingly destroyed the evidence prior to filing the original suit.
In his review of Bogata’s filing, Pokernews’ legal contributor Maurice VerStandig condemns the Borgata’s “irony bordering on outright hypocrisy” stating that “a casino openly in the business of exploiting statistical advantages has filed a legally hyperbolic, seemingly overreaching complaint against a couple of players who may have also been in the business of exploiting statistical advantages.”
Ivey and his co-defendant Ms. Sun have demanded unspecified compensation as well as punitive damages from the NJ casino.