Phil Ivy, the American poker star has been accused of cheating a United Kingdom Casino operator. Ivey, who is one of the world top professional poker player has been accused of earning millions of dollars by cheating at baccarat.
Court papers were filed in Britain’s High Court by the Malaysia-based Genting Group saying that Ivey and an un-named accomplice successfully used a scam to rack up winnings of roughly £7.8 million pounds ($11.9 million) last summer.
The case has shaken the world of professional poker by accusing one of its most charismatic young stars of cheating a major resort and casino operator out of millions of dollars worth of winnings. The game in question took place on Aug. 20-21 at Crockfords, one of London’s oldest and most respected casinos.
The accusation was made public in April when Ivey filed a claim against the Genting Group in London’s High Court. Ivey’s lawyers claim that the casino refused to pay Ivey his winnings after playing baccarat at Crockfords, part of the Genting Group.
The casino’s legal representation responded in court Tuesday by accusing Ivey of cheating, saying that his winnings were invalid because they were “based upon illegal acts.”
Ivey’s lawyers issued a statement on Wednesday that denied any misconduct on his part.
The statement said, “The fact that I have issued a lawsuit in the face of what they are alleging says everything about how comfortable I am with my conduct and the validity of my win. Any allegations of wrongdoing by Crockfords are denied by me in the very strongest of terms.”
The 37 year old poker professional has had a fantastically successful run. He has won numerous World Series of Poker Championship bracelets. The charismatic Ivey has attracted a huge fan base and he has been active with several charities since winning millions of dollars at poker.
The court papers submitted by the Genting Group casino said that Ivey’s “illegal acts” voided his claimed winnings. It has been alleged that he had a “significant advantage” over the casino by using improper means to determine whether the first card being dealt in the baccarat hands would be a powerful or weak one, allowing him to place his bets accordingly.
The court papers explain that Punto Banco Baccarat is played with six or eight decks of cards placed in what is called a dealing “shoe.” The goal in each hand, which consists of two or three cards, is to get closest to nine — the best first cards are a 7, 8 or 9 since a 10 or a picture card counts as zero.
Players can bet that they will win, that the bank will win, or that the hand will be a tie.
The casino alleges that Ivey and his accomplice, after some trial and error, found a “shoe” that contained decks of cards with an asymmetrical design. The two were then able to convince the dealer, after cards were revealed, to turn the card either sideways or end over end. The staff were not suspicious because the accomplice, who spoke Cantonese with the dealers, acted like she was just superstitious and only changing the way the cards lay for good luck.
It was this action, the casino claims, that caused the dealer to inadvertently sort the cards so that 7, 8 and 9 cards were distinguishable from others. Ivey sustained his success by asking that the cards be shuffled automatically by a machine, which meant the way the cards were arranged was not altered as the game progressed.
The casino also alleges that Ivey specifically asked for an Asian dealer so his accomplice could communicate with the dealer in a language not understood by the rest of the casino staff.
By Michael Smith