Phil Ivey, Borgata Reach Settlement in Edge-Sorting Case

Famed professional gambler and poker player Phil Ivey and the parent company of New Jersey’s Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa have reached terms on a legal settlement in the prominent “edge sorting” lawsuit brought by the Borgata against Ivey and co-defendant Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun.

By: Haley Hintze

The settlement, filed on July 2, 2020, in the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals, signals the likely resolution of the high-profile battle that has stretched for more than six years. The lawsuit was filed by Borgata parent Marina District Development Co. LLC against Ivey and Sun in 2014, seeking to recover millions in damages from Ivey and Sun, who used a complex scheme to switch the odds in high-stakes mini-baccarat in Ivey’s favor during four extended sessions in 2010-12.

The Borgata won a $10.13 million judgment against Ivey and Sun in late 2016 in a New Jersey-based federal district court, but Ivey immediately appealed to the Third Circuit bench, where the case moved forward slowly over the last three and a half years. Last week’s filing of generalized settlement terms marked the first new development in the case since September of 2019. At that time, following oral arguments, the matter was referred to a special mediation service that helped the two sides hammer out a deal.

Financial terms of the settlement were not disclosed. However, the settlement hinges upon the case being “partially remanded” to the New Jersey district court and Judge Noel Hillman, who rendered the original 2016 judgment. “The Parties’ settlement is conditioned on the District Court’s vacatur of certain orders and decisions that it entered in the lower court proceedings,” one clause in the settlement reads. Among the orders necessarily needing to be vacated by Judge Hillman is the overall $10.13M assessment against Ivey and Sun. The settlement filing also cautions that if the case isn’t remanded and certain findings vacated, the deal itself will likely fall apart.

The settlement also covers the involvement of and potential liability for Sun. The noted “Queen of Sorts” trained her eyesight to detect minute variations in the way certain playing cards were trimmed, then used that skill to assist Ivey in “winning” tens of millions of dollars from casinos around the globe. Sun’s story will become the focus of a feature film as announced earlier this year.

A related case in Nevada, where the Borgata had sued Ivey in order to pursue any of Ivey’s assets there, has also ended. That case did not end in settlement, however; instead, the Borgata won a judgment in late May allowing it to continue its pursuit of Ivey’s assets, and in the process nullifying a counterclaim filed by high-stakes poker pros Daniel “Jungleman” Cates and Illya Trincher, who backed Ivey in several 2019 WSOP events, and who took a six-figure hit when a six-figure Ivey cash was successfully seized by the Borgata. The extent to which Borgata’s legal win in Nevada may have influenced the settlement talks in New Jersey is also unlikely to be publicly disclosed. One settlement benefit for Ivey is that it will free him to resume playing poker events in the United States, without fear of winnings being attached and seized.


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