Phil Ivey’s Supreme Court gamble fails as judge rules against edge sorting technique

  • US poker pro bagged £7.7m by using ‘edge sorting’ at London casino
  • Venue in Mayfair refused to pay out, prompting Ivey’s lawsuit

It has been reported that poker star Phil Ivey has failed in his attempt to claim £7.7 million in winnings made at a London casino using a technique known as ‘edge sorting’.

A Supreme Court ruling said that Ivey’s technique amounted to cheating, and upheld an earlier decision in favor of Genting, owner of the Crockford Club where Ivey employed his advantage strategy.

phil ivey legal case edge sorting
Phil Ivey has failed in his attempt to claim winnings taken from using edge sorting at a Mayfair casino. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Flipchip

The ten-time World Series winner has faced similar defeats in US courts over his use of the controversial method, most notably being ordered to repay $9.6 million that was earned from Atlantic City’s Borgata Casino.

Poker star caught on camera using controversial technique

The incident this latest case centered on happened at Crockfords Club, an exclusive Mayfair venue, back in 2012. It is reported that Ivey was able to identify the best cards and use that knowledge to scoop £7.7 million. However, casino managers reviewed tapes of Ivey’s win and became aware of his use of edge sorting. They subsequently refused to pay out on the win – prompting Ivey to seek legal action.

The High Court and the Court of Appeal both ruled in favor of the operator. However, Ivey felt he had a fair case as he maintains that exploiting a casino’s weakness – in this case, flawed decks – is simply an attempt to “level the playing field”.

The Supreme Court agreed to hear a third appeal by Ivey, leading to expectations that the casino might have to honor the wins. However, the five-judge panel ruled against the plaintiff.

The ruling “entirely vindicates Genting’s decision not to pay Mr Ivey, a decision that was not taken lightly,” said Genting UK’s Paul Willcock after the verdict was delivered.

Judge gives harsh verdict on edge sorting

‘Edge sorting’ is a card technique that takes advantage of slight flaws in cards, so that they can be identified within the deck when turned the wrong way round. It is reported that Ivey asked dealers at a number of high profile casinos to turn the cards in the deck during play, under the premise of superstition.

Lord Justice Hughes, part of the Supreme Court panel, said that use of the technique amounted to a “carefully planned and cleverly executed sting,” and is reported as noting that Ivey took steps to fix the deck, via the unwitting croupier, which amounted to cheating.

Ivey remains defiant after verdict

Despite the court’s verdict, Ivey insists that he did nothing wrong and that his professional integrity has not been compromised. “At the time I played at Crockfords, I believed that edge-sorting was a legitimate Advantage Play technique,” he told reporters after the case concluded. “I believe that more passionately than ever today.”

He ended his statement by saying: “It is very frustrating that the UK judges have no experience or understanding of casinos,” he admitted. Referring to the “ongoing battle between casinos and professional gamblers attempting to level the playing field.” He maintains that the technique was “legitimate gamesmanship,” but acknowledges that the law does not agree with his own assessment.

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