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Poker Star Phil Ivey Loses $10M In Earnings After UK Supreme Court Ruled His Technique Was Cheating

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Phil Ivey has won 10 World Series of Poker tournaments. (J.Sciulli/WireImage for Media)

Phil Ivey, a poker player dubbed the Tiger Woods of the card game, has been ruled against in a challenge over his 2012 earnings at a London casino. The World Poker Tour winner had been embroiled in an edge-sorting scandal and sued to recover $10.2 million from a baccarat game.

The UK Supreme Court said Tuesday, Oct. 24 Ivy engaged in the technique, called edge-sorting, that involves a player reviewing subtle differences on the back of a card to gain an advantage while playing Punto Banco at Crockfords Club in Mayfair in 2012.

Maurice “Mac” VerStandig, an attorney who counsels professional poker players, sports bettors and advantage players said this about edge-sorting regarding a similar lawsuit Ivey faced from a New Jersey casino in 2012, it “really amounts to little more than the strategic exploitation of inconsistencies in the way patterns on the back of playing cards are cut. Many houses, these days, have a white border around their playing card patterns, in large part to block against this precise scheme.”

VerStandig added that at the time there was no real precedent for a case like Ivey’s. In an attempt to highlight the murky claims against the poker star, he offered this analogy:

“On one extreme end of the spectrum is a player who uses loaded dice in a craps game — this individual, if caught, is destined for a rendezvous with the civil justice system.

“On the other extreme end of the spectrum is a card counter crunching numbers through a six-deck blackjack shoe — this individual, if caught, will be kindly asked to leave the premises, allowed to keep his or her winnings, and revered in the halls of MIT.”

Edge-sorting falls somewhere in between.

“It makes no sense that the UK Supreme Court has ruled against me, in my view, contrary to the facts and any possible logic involved in our industry,” Ivy said after the ruling over the blackjack-like game, according to the Daily Mail. “At the time I played at Crockfords, I believed that edge-sorting was a legitimate advantage play technique and I believe that more passionately than ever today. … As a professional gambler, my integrity is everything to me.”

Ivey added that if the justices understood casinos and advantage play, which are legal methods used to gain an advantage during play, then the case would have been decided in his favor.

The ruling upholds a 2016 majority decision that dismissed his case against Crockfords Club owner Genting Casinos UK.

“What Mr. Ivey did was to stage a carefully planned and executed sting,” Lord Justice Hughes said to the Daily Mail. “If he had surreptitiously gained access to the shoe and re-arranged the cards physically himself, no one would begin to doubt that he was cheating. He accomplished exactly the same result through the unwitting but directed actions of the croupier, tricking her into thinking that what she did was irrelevant.”

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The croupier is a Chinese woman named Cheung Yin Sun, a fellow gambler who was caught up in the scandal in 2012.

In the court of appeal, Lady Justice Arden referred to the Grambling act of 2005, which says someone may cheat “without dishonesty or intention to deceive.”

Many online have sided with Ivey.

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