Card manufacturer could be liable for Phil Ivey’s $10.1 million Borgata ‘win’

  • Atlantic City casino lost to poker pro on mini-baccarat
  • Ivey used sorting technique to net millions in US and UK

The saga concerning poker professional Phil Ivey’s baccarat winnings continues, with MGM’s Atlantic City venue Borgata now pursuing action against the star over his use of an edge sorting and counting technique.

The scheme came to light after London-based Genting Casinos refused to honor a $9.9 million payout, with subsequent legal challenges from Ivey making their way to the UK’s highest court.

Now the card manufacturer who made the deck Ivey played with and exploited could find themselves liable for the $10 million Borgata lost, as reports that the casino has filed against the company through the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

Edge counting technique exploited card imperfections

It is now known that Phil Ivey was making millions from casinos worldwide through a technique known as edge sorting, where he identified cards that were beneficial and then bet accordingly.

Working with an unnamed female partner, Ivey would have the dealer turn the cards so that imperfections in their markings could be read – essentially stacking the deck in his favor. Using this technique, Ivey successfully won millions at baccarat and mini-baccarat from at least five US and UK land-based casinos.

The scheme worked because the cards had inconsistencies in their patterns, and Ivey’s accomplice was skilled at identifying those slight flaws. The casinos also complied with the scheme unknowingly, turning cards at Ivey’s request ‘for luck’ and sticking with the same deck throughout play. Most casinos which Ivey played at paid out the won bets – it was only when Genting challenged Ivey’s win on their premises that other casinos realized what had occurred in their own venues. Borgata is one of several venues seeking recompense from the poker star over his dishonest winnings.

Courts agree no cheating took place, but rules against player

Ivey first challenged Genting over their refusal to honor his winnings, but a court of appeal ruled in the house’s favor – despite agreeing with Ivey that no illegal act took place and that he simply exploited the casino’s weakness in using flawed cards.

An appeal for that case is heading to the UK’s Supreme Court. Meanwhile, Borgata has filed with the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals in New Jersey to request that Ivey pays back his baccarat winnings.

However, this case is currently on hold, as the Atlantic City venue pursues the card manufacturers over their part in these events.

Gemaco on the hook for Ivey’s winnings

Card maker Gemaco could have to pay back the casino’s losses, rather than Ivey, if the Appeals Court rules in the casino’s favor. Borgata alleges that the card manufacturer is responsible, as their deck was not fit for purpose due to having identifying features on the backs of the cards.

If the deck had been up to standard, Ivey’s scheme would not have worked. The casino wants $10 million in damages from the company – which would presumably negate the case they have raised against Ivey, and allow him to keep his winnings.

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