Phil Ivey is a professional poker player from California who is considered by many fellow gamblers to be one of the best players in the world. He has won numerous tournaments worldwide during his career, including the World Series of Poker, the Monte Carlo Millions, and the World Poker tour. His total live tournament winnings over his career exceed twenty one million pounds, although he has won millions more playing cash games and online tournaments. Phil Ivey is the youngest player ever to win ten bracelets at the World Series of Poker tournament, and is sometimes referred to as the Tiger Woods of poker.
Phil Ivey has recently been in the media spotlight due to a high profile court case brought against him by Crockfords, a London casino. Ivey allegedly won over seven million pounds playing Punto Banco, a type of Bacarat, at the casino in August 2012, but the casino refused to honor payment of his winnings due to allegations of cheating through “edge sorting”, although they did return his stake of a million pounds. Mr Ivey brought the case to court when the casino did not transfer the money as agreed amid claims that the techniques used were not in keeping with the rules of Bacarrat.
Edge sorting is a technique used by players which takes advantage of differences on the backs of playing cards to determine which card is being played and then requesting the croupier to rotate certain cards, making it easier to spot. The croupier will often comply as it could be considered to be just another gambling superstition, such as sitting in a particular place or stacking chips in a certain way. This technique is considered to be cheating by casinos and other establishments although players insist they are simply exploiting a flaw in the manufacturing process to increase the odds of winning. Phil Ivey firmly denied any cheating had taken place and insisted that he had done nothing wrong. Fellow players supported him during the court case and also declared that edge sorting was not cheating, but a fair method of gaining advantage. A judge ruled in favor of the casino and ordered Ivey to pay all court costs.
In his summation, the judge, Mr Justice Mitting, ruled that Mr Ivey and other gamblers who had been using this technique, were in fact cheating, and taking advantage of the fact that the croupier was not aware of this technique. He explained that, although Ivey and other players were convinced that they had not cheated, the fact that they had used the croupier’s inexperience and willingness to please the customer to increase their chances of winning was cheating to all intents and purposes. Mr Ivey has also been the subject of another court case brought by the Borgata casino in Atlantic City, again due to his alleged use of the edge sorting technique.