An Atlantic City casino is awaiting a massive payout from poker legend Phil Ivey, who was ordered at the end of last year, along with an associate, to pay back more than $10 million. Ivey won $9.6 million playing Baccarat at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, but following the payout, the hotel sued, alleging the gambler defrauded the casino.
Ivey is said to have won the massive pile of cash during four different visits to the casino in 2012. That year, Baccarat was the highest grossing casino game in the world, according to Bloomberg. Eager to beat those odds, Ivey and his associate Cheng Yin Sun employed a technique called edge-sorting in order to gain an illegal advantage.
Ivey was considered a high-roller at Borgata, and in attempts to cater to him as a wealthy player, the casino met a number of his requests: to play in a private area, have a dealer who spoke Mandarin Chinese, play with eights decks of purple Gemaco Borgata cards shuffled together and have those decks suffled by an automatic shuffler, and to be allowed one guest at the table.
That guest was Sun who, according to the New York Times, had spent hundreds of hours memorizing tiny flaws in purple Gemaco Borgata playing cards, even those no wider than 1/32 of an inch.
At Borgata, Sun was allowed to peek at a card before the dealer flipped it over. She then asked the dealer to rotate the most valuable cards (6-9) 180 degrees as they were flipped. The shuffler would then randomize the cards, but not rotate them back to their original position. Due to the superstitions involved in Chinese gambling games like Baccarat, the casino wasn’t alarmed by the request. But it meant Sun was able to identify which cards in the stack had been rotated, and Ivey adjusted his bets accordingly.
Sun reportedly participated in the scheme in a revenge attempt against MGM casino. She owed them money, and when she wasn’t able to pay it back, she was forced to go to jail.
While the scheme was certainly out of the ordinary, a federal judge wrote that the pair would not be convicted of fraud. He decided that while they tipped the odds in their favor, they did not break the rules of Baccarat. The rules “do not prohibit a player from manipulating the cards,” he wrote.
While Ivey may not be guilty of fraud, the judge did say he violated the law of the New Jersey Casino Control Act and ordered the pair to return $10.1 million, the money won at Baccarat as well as the $500,000 won using some of the winnings at the craps tables.
Ivey has ten World Series of Poker bracelets, one World Poker Tour title and has played at nine World Poker Tour final tables.
Featured photo credit: CardPlayer.com
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