Phil Ivey Loses Five Year £7.7m Edge Sorting Battle With Crockfords Casino

Phil Ivey at an earlier appearance during the Crockfords case, accompanied by Cheung Yin Sun

After five long years Phil Ivey's drawn-out dispute with a London casino has ended with the UK Supreme Court ruling in favour of Crockfords Casino in Mayfair, London, meaning that Ivey will not be able to collect the £7,700,000 he 'won' at their Punto Banco tables back in October 2012.

After winning the money Ivey was promised that the profits would be wired to him in Las Vegas, although he subsequently only ever received back his £1,000,000 stake as the casino witheld his 'winnings' claiming that Ivey had violated the rules of the game by using an edge-sorting technique to recognise face down cards and thus give himself a significant edge over the house.

The technique, which relies on the naked eye spotting minor imperfections on the pattern of the cards, had been perfected by Ivey's companion Cheung Yin Sun who was able to communicate to Ivey the value of certain cards.

Although the technique clearly gave Ivey an edge, he has vehemently argued that as he personally neither marked, interferred with, or ever even physically touched the cards that all he had been doing was exploiting the casino's own shortcomings to tip the balance in his favour.

Ivey first brought the case to court in 2014 where the High Court ruled that edge-sorting was cheating according to civil law, although the presiding Judge Mitting had declared Ivey a "truthful witness" and acknowledged that Ivey didn't believe what he had done to be cheating.

Last year Ivey took his case to the Court of Appeal, but once more he was denied as the Court rejected Ivey's claims that he was an 'advantage player'.

Taking the case to the UK Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, Ivey was hoping to get a reversal in the decision to both clear his name and to recoup his considerable winnings. However, five justices unanimously upheld the majority decision of the Court of Appeal, which dismissed his case on the basis that dishonesty was not a necessary element of ‘cheating’.

In the Court of Appeal, Lady Justice Arden said the Gambling Act 2005 provided that someone may cheat ‘without dishonesty or intention to deceive: depending on the circumstances it may be enough that he simply interferes with the process of the game’. The Supreme Court today agreed with Justice Arden's ruling.

Above: The UK Supreme Court's verdict is announced on their twitter feed earlier today

Phil Ivey made the following statement following the decision saying;

"It makes no sense that the UK Supreme Court has ruled against me, in my view, contrary to the facts and any possible logic involved in our industry. At the time I played at Crockfords, I believed that edge-sorting was a legitimate Advantage Play technique and I believe that more passionately than ever today.

As Mr Justice Mitting found, this is not just my personal view but one that “commands considerable support from others” and I am grateful to the Supreme Court for confirming Mr Justice Mitting’s finding that I was a truthful witness in this respect and that this was my honest belief. As a professional gambler, my integrity is everything to me.

It is because of my sense of honour and respect for the manner in which gambling is undertaken by professional gamblers such as myself that I have pursued this claim for my unpaid winnings all the way to the Supreme Court. It is very frustrating that the UK judges have no experience or understanding of casinos and Advantage Play, or the ongoing battle between casinos and professional gamblers attempting to level the playing field. If they had, I am very confident the result in this case would have been in my favour."

It's been a tough five years for Phil Ivey. Not only did he not get paid out £7.7m by Crockfords, but he was also ordered to pay back over $10m he had won at the Borgata in New Jersey using a similar technique at their Baccarat tables. He also lost close to $9,000,000 playing online from 2012-2016. However, he did cash for over $10,000,000 in live poker tournaments over the same period, as well as allegedly remaining a big winner in huge live cash games in the far east and around the world.


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