In May the news hit that Phil Ivey was suing Crockfords, Britain's oldest casino, for refusing to pay Ivey's £7.8 million in winnings from a two-day Punto Banco session. The Daily Mail reported today that Ivey admits to being able to exploit flaws that are seen on the rear of the cards and was able to identify those flaws which gave him an unfair advantage.
Punto banco is a form of baccarat and has no skill factor, it's strictly luck based. Ivey admits to 'reading' the cards and that's how he won the cash but Ivey's admission is to being an 'advantage player' and not a cheater. Ivey's stand is that he used a legal method to pick up an advantage over the casino's edge.
Mayfair Club Crockfords takes a completely different stance. They believe that Ivey ‘acted to defeat the essential premise of the game’ and that he 'operated a scam' to gain an advantage over the casino.
Ivey brought an associate to the table with him — "Kelly" — who could read cards with printing errors, more than one deck change was made at Ivey's request. Deck changes are quite common in casino games where the stakes are high and those changes were apparently requested until Ivey's associate could identify printing errors by the way the cards were turned.
Ivey managed to go through the deck with the help of his associate until it was set in the manner he needed to start his run. He originally began with a wager of £50,000 a hand and once the deck was set, he asked for the limit to be raised to £150,000 a hand. It only took him a few hours to amass the win once everything was set.
Image courtesy of dailymail.co.uk.
In the beginning Crockfords said they would transfer Ivey's winnings to his bank account but an investigation by Crockford's security team changed everything after the Genting Group (parent company of Crockfords) transferred only his £1 million initial investment in the game, hence Ivey's initiation of the lawsuit.
There are numerous opinions on whether or not Ivey will get paid — if he acted as any knowledgeable player in the industry would act, or if the casino will prevail at the TwoPlusTwo forums.
Will Crockford's be forced to pay the full sum of Ivey's win — £7.8 million ($12.1 million) — or will Ivey end up out in the cold? Stay tuned.