Did Phil Ivey Cheat in Baccarat?

Posted by Bradley, October 5, 2014

Poker players around the world know Phil Ivey as an amazingly successful professional poker player who has won ten World Series of Poker bracelets. His most recent bracelet was the $1,500 Eight Game Mix (Event #50) at the 2014 World Series of Poker for a $167,332 prize, and his biggest win ever was the $250,000 Challenge at the 2014 Aussie Millions Poker Championship when he took home $3,582,753.

Phil Ivey, courtesy of Bluff Magazine

Phil Ivey is currently ranked 4th in the All Time Money List, with over $21.4 million in career poker tournament winnings. With all those poker winnings, it’s hard to imagine why Ivey would even want to play anything else.

Ivey, dubbed by many as the Tiger Woods of Poker, played a form of baccarat called punto banco at the Crockfords, one of London’s oldest and most respected casinos, over a three-day period in August 2012.

Ivey and an associate racked up winnings of roughly £7.8 million ($11.9 million); the casino refuses to pay and claims that Ivey scammed them to win the money.

Phil Ivey (Source: Phil Ivey's Twitter feed)

According to the Malaysia-based Genting Group, which owns the casino, Ivey was able to read the backs of the playing cards, which allegedly were defective, and used this to his advantage.

The Genting Group, which filed papers in Britain’s High Court, said that “Ivey and his accomplice, after some trial and error, found a ‘shoe’ that contained decks of cards with an asymmetrical design. They were then able to convince the dealer, after cards were revealed, to turn the card either sideways or end over end,” according to the court papers, as reported in the media.

According to the papers, “The effect was that the dealer inadvertently sorted the cards so that 7, 8 and 9 cards were distinguishable from others.” Ivey asked to have the cards shuffled automatically by a machine, “which meant the way the cards were arranged was not altered as the game progressed.”

Ivey maintains that he won the game legitimately and filed a suit against the casino.

“I am deeply saddened that Crockfords has left me no alternative but to proceed with legal action, following its decision to withhold my winnings,” professional poker player Ivey said in a statement. “I have much respect for Gentings, which has made this a very difficult decision for me. Over the years I have won and lost substantial sums at Crockfords and I have always honored my commitments. At the time, I was given a receipt for my winnings but Crockfords subsequently withheld payment. I, therefore, feel I have no alternative but to take legal action.”

Phil Ivey (Source: Phil Ivey's Twitter feed)

If Ivey spotted a defect in the playing cards and used this to his advantage, does this mean he was cheating?

What do you think?

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