The Borgata Hotel and Casino has alleged that Phil Ivey exploited a line of cards that have a defect to increase his chances of winning. The claim is he used a technique called “edge sorting” to gain an edge. By identifying the defective cards and memorizing them, Ivey would be able to tilt the advantage his way. The casino is suing Ivey along with two other defendants, the manufacturer of the cards used, Gemaco Inc. and Cheng Yin Sun.
The accusations of cheating stem from four different sessions Ivey played at the Atlantic Casino on the Baccarat table. They allege he was able to change the odds in his favor in April winning $2.4 million, May winning $1.6 million, July winning $4.8 million, and in October winning $825,000.
Cheng Yin Sun apparently helped Ivey in the placement of cards so he could keep track and memorize them. The claim is that they would ask the cards to be turned so that they could distinguish the particular flaw on the card from the rest of the deck. Giving an advantage for the player if they knew what was coming or where to play the card on their bets. The casino plays with eight decks for baccarat so counting would have to be precise but a person would only have to keep track of the cards that had flaws in them.
Phil Ivey is best known for his play in the World Series of Poker. He could be considered one the best poker players in the world, being referred to as the ‘Tiger Woods’ of Poker. Ivey is the youngest player to have won nine World Series of Poker bracelets. An amazing feat considering the competition that he is faced with every year, players coming from all parts of the world. He has won over $6 million on the circuit events.
Ivey began to play poker at the young age of 17 by using a fake ID to get into the casinos. He grew up in Northern New Jersey and was taught how to play poker from his grandfather Bud. Ivey has a following called ‘Team Ivey’ and has his own app “Ivey Pro” that gives lessons online to the average player, giving tips from professionals on occasion.
Phil Ivey is currently in a legal battle with another casino in the UK for a very similar case. Ivey is suing the casino for withholding his earnings on a visit last year. The Crockford casino claimed that he was using the same method, ‘edge sorting’, to cheat the casino and in turn they would not release the money Ivey won, approximately $12 million in earnings.
The dispute with Crockford was first made public last year when Ivey’s lawyer filed a claim against the casino. His Lawyer said the casino is refusing to pay Ivey for the money he had won.
The new revelation and accusation that Phil Ivey was cheating in the Borgata hotel seems to substantiate the previous accusation from the UK. Although there has not been any decision made about the activities of Ivey, being in the middle of two cases that accuse him of cheating has put his reputation on the line.
It could be said that he is gambling with his career at this point, which seems almost ironic. What would be expected of a professional gambler except to gamble? This behavior has and does carry over into real life for many players. It is a risky business being a professional poker player. It is not unheard of for a player to lose everything just as quickly as they won it. It can become an addiction, the high is not necessarily the win but the actual betting, whether you win or lose. A career of putting it all on the line is the way of the poker world, always walking on the edge. There is no indication that Ivey falls into this category. He is one of the most successful players of his generation. Most of Ivey’s fans stand behind him and with good reason, he has made the game of poker fun to watch.
The accusations have shaken the poker world. If he is found to have cheated it will bring into question all of his play for some but the reality is that Ivey has proven that he can win, without any advantage. Being Phil Ivey would probably be an advantage itself in the poker world, it is intimidating to play someone who is truly great at his craft. For now this will leave most of the poker world wondering and following closely to find out if he was really cheating.
Phil Ivey has not publicly responded to the accusation of cheating after the casino filed the lawsuit. The suit brings into question Ivey’s true motives, intentions and purpose in the playing arrangements to create a situation he could manipulate to gain an unfair advantage over the Borgata casino, stated in the suit against him. The suit also claims this was not the first time Ivey has been alleged to have used “edge sorting” techniques, citing the allegations at the Crockford casino in London.
Commentary by Jabar Morarend