Mayfair casino won’t have to pay top poker player Phil Ivey £7.7million

A Mayfair casino will not have to pay top poker player Phil Ivey £7.7million in winnings after a High Court judge ruled his ‘edge-sorting’ technique amounted to cheating.

The 38-year-old American had sued Crockfords Club over a version of baccarat known as Punto Banco which he played at the London casino over two days in August 2012.

After four sessions, Ivey was told the money would be wired to him and he left for the United States, but it never arrived, although his stake money of £1million was returned.

Genting Casinos UK, which owns more than 40 casinos in the UK including Crockfords, had argued that the technique of ‘edge-sorting’ which Ivey used – which aims to provide the customer with an element of ‘first card advantage’ – was not a legitimate strategy and that the casino had no liability to him.

Edge sorting involves observing minute details on the reverses of patterned cards, enabling the punter to identify their suit and number.

Those with sharp enough vision can eventually overcome the ‘house edge’, particularly if a croupier is tricked into altering the position of the deck.

Its lawyers told Mr Justice Mitting that Ivey’s conduct defeated the essential premise of the game of baccarat so there was no gaming contract or constituted cheating.

They said their croupier was tricked into helping Ivey ‘edge sort’ after he pretended to be a highly superstitious player with obsessive rituals.

He successfully convinced staff to let him play repeatedly with a single pack of cards, claiming he believed it was ‘lucky’.

But the deck had a pattern suited to the ‘edge reading’ con, the court heard.

Ivey’s counsel, Richard Spearman QC, had told the court that edge-sorting involved nothing more than using information that was available to any player simply from viewing the backs of the cards which the casino chose to use and making requests of the casino – which it could accept or refuse – as to the manner in which play was conducted.

MR IVey lives in Las Vegas, has won the Poker World series ten times, and is described on their website as ‘arguably the best poker player in the world’.

The casino’s counsel, Christopher Pymont QC, said that Ivey was not a well-known advantage player at the time of his visit but was, in their eyes, an old VIP customer and they trusted him accordingly.

It argued that edge-sorting was not a widely known or practised way of playing baccarat in the UK.

More at The DailyMail Online.

scroll to top