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US Court Rules That Phil Ivey Did Not Commit Fraud in 2012 But Breached Casino Contract
October 24, 2016, 23:45:57
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In a 30-page ruling that begins with the lines from U2’s song, “Every Breaking Wave” a US district federal judge has dismissed Borgata’s claims that Phil Ivey committed fraud in a game four years ago, but at the same time ruled that he and his partner did breach their contract with the casino.

The issue dates back to 2012, when Ivey, along with Cheng Yin Sun won millions at the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa by indulging in a technique i.e. ‘edge-sorting’ at a specially set up game of baccarat. The technique is used by ‘reading’ minute markings on a deck of cards. Ivey’s partner Sun convinced the dealer to use purple Gemaco playing cards, claiming superstitious reasons.

The judgment begins with the song lines –

“Every breaking wave on the shore

Tells the next one "there'll be one more"

Every gambler knows that to lose

Is what you're really there for

It soon gets serious however, by saying,

As a general matter, gambling is illegal. This is because the law considers gambling malum per se, a function of the age-old belief, arising perhaps from Judeo-Christian doctrine, that gambling is an immoral vice. Hence, it is prohibited by both the state and the federal government.

But like most vices, which would exist in some measure whether banned by governments or not, many states choose to allow, regulate, and tax some versions of it while preserving the ban on unregulated enterprises. The theory is a simple one. State-sanctioned gambling will be cleansed of its most unsavory elements and the games will be conducted under a defined set of published rules overseen by an administrative body.”

The ruling mentions how Ivey set up the game and arranged for his Chinese speaking partner, as well as asked for a dealer, who knew Mandarin, an automatic card shuffler and a private pit to play at in the casino. In all several conditions were requested by Ivey and on agreement by the Borgata, Ivey put up front-money of $1 million to the casino, besides consenting that the maximum bet would be $50,000 per hand.

Across the numerous visits, Ivey earned the following –

- April 2012: $2.4M in winnings over 16 hours, average bet of $25,000 a hand

- May 2012: $1.6M in winnings over 56 hours, average bet of $36,000 a hand

- July 2012: $4.8M in winnings over 17 hours, average bet of $89,000 a hand (Borgata had agreed to double the max bet to $100,000)

- Oct. 2012: $0.8M in winnings over 18 hours, average bet of $93,800

Subsequently, Borgata filed a suit against Ivey with several claims of cheating and breach of contract. In return, Ivey counter-filed that the claims were ‘frivolous’ and that the casino had deliberately destroyed the decks used during the games, as these were an important piece of evidence in his favour. He claimed that he won the money through skill and also accused the house of distracting players with free alcohol and pretty hostesses.

After considering all issues, the Judge ruled that all of the Borgata’s claims against Ivey and Sun were dismissed, except the one for “breach of contract”. Both parties have been given 20 days each to resolve the matter or file a fresh petition.

This is not the only high-profile case involving Ivey. In 2013, he sued Crockfords of London for withholding his winnings of £7.8 million (about $12 million), which he won at Punto Blaco, a form of baccarat. Crockfords claimed that Ivey cheated and won the case when the London Court ruled in their favor a year later.

Despite the ruling, the UK judge declared that Ivey was an ‘honest man who did not realize he was cheating’. A disappointed Ivey later claimed that "As I said in court, it's not in my nature to cheat — and I would never do anything to risk my reputation."

The debate is a never-ending one, who cheats who?! The house, the player, or the one-off pro like Ivey, the house!

Related Articles:

1. Phil Ivey’s £7.8 Million Appeal in Crockfords Case Heard By London Court

2. Phil Ivey Files Counter Suit in $9.6 Million Borgata Edge Sorting Case

3. Phil Ivey Loses Legal Battle Against Casino Crockfords, Judgment May Adversely Impact Ivey in Borgata Casino Case

4. High Stakes Poker Player Paul Phua Arrested for Illegal Betting Racket

5. Paul Phua and Son Released with Phil Ivey and Andrew Robl Posting 2.5 Million Bail; Ivey Offers Similar Help to Co-Defendant

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