Phil Ivey is finding out just how difficult this year. Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa paid the poker star $10 million in 2012, when he played four sessions of mini-baccarat. His success drew him one last card: a lawsuit from Borgata.
Earlier this month, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals said Ivey would have to wait until another Borgata lawsuit concludes before he can get a final decision on Borgata’s suit against him. While not a loss, it does mean Ivey has to sit tight before he receives a final verdict.
Here are the exact words of the decision, per USA Today:
“THEREFORE, IT IS on this 6th day of June, 2017
ORDERED that the MOTION for Entry of Judgment under Rule 54(b) by PHILLIP D. IVEY, JR.  be, and the same hereby is, DENIED; and it is further ORDERED that Plaintiff shall resume prosecution of its claims against Gemaco, Inc., by renewing its motion for summary judgment, or by seeking other relief, that would resolve the claims between Plaintiff and Gemaco, Inc. so that final judgment may be entered on Plaintiff’s claims against Ivey and Sun.”
“Sun” refers to Cheng Yin Sun, Ivey’s playing partner who was able to spot the card inconsistencies that resulted in the 2012 winnings.
When the final judgment is given, Ivey can start the appeals process against a district court judge’s earlier ruling that Ivey should repay the money he won.
Ivey took advantage of printing inconsistencies
At face value, a casino demanding a gambling savant return his winnings may seem like a petty response from a sore loser. However, as reports of the dispute show, there is serious doubt to Ivey’s claim he legitimately won his $10 million.
The case revolves around the possibility that Ivey gained an advantage by noticing a printing defect on the top and bottom edges of purple Gemaco cards. This is known as “edge sorting.”
Arguments for and against Ivey
Ivey’s argument is that using the discrepancy wasn’t fraud and that his competitive advantage was no different than casinos using beautiful women and strong drinks to distract card players.
However, Borgata pointed out that the use of a particular type of Gemaco card during Ivey’s mini-baccarat session wasn’t an accident.
In order to host the $50,000-per-hand game, Borgata had to meet a list of demands from Ivey, NorthJersey.com reported:
- Purple Gemaco cards
- An automatic shuffler
- A dealer speaking Mandarin
Ivey supposedly asked for these conditions because Sun, his partner, spoke Mandarin and also had keen enough vision to spot card inconsistencies.
Ivey and Sun allegedly asked for telling card positioning
Several news outlets reported that, in addition to making what would turn out to be supremely advantageous requests, Ivey and his partner made multiple requests of the dealer to position certain cards certain ways.
While Ivey waits for his chance in the Third Circuit court, he will also be embroiled in a lawsuit with a UK casino at which he also won millions in mini-baccarat using purple Gemaco cards.
The cardmaker most likely won’t make it out of these situations unscathed, as Borgata’s lawsuit against the company will take center stage now that the Third Circuit has halted the Ivey suit.