US poker legend Phil Ivey has lost his UK Supreme Court appeal against Genting Casino, relating to a £7.7 million ‘edge sorting – Punto Barco’ dispute at London’s Crockfords Mayfair Casino.
Ivey representatives wished to overturn a 2014 UK Civil Court ruling against the poker player, which deemed that he had played unfairly; ‘Circumvented the premise of the game’s rules’ in order to win vast sums of money.
Taking his appeal to the UK’s highest governing law court, Ivey representatives argued that edge sorting would give their client ‘no legitimate advantage’ when playing Punto Barco a European format of Baccarat.
The technique of edge sorting involves a player identifying small differences in the pattern on the reverse of playing cards and exploiting that information to increase the chances of winning.
Ivey’s dispute with Genting Casino (owner of Crockfords Mayfair) has been labelled as a ‘UK landmark trial’ as it is the first time the Supreme Court has been asked to judge ‘Whether dishonesty is a necessary element of cheating?’.
Nevertheless, Ivey’s appeal would fall on deaf ears, as five UK Justices unanimously upheld the Civil Court’s formal ruling, that Ivey had knowingly played with ‘dishonesty and intention to deceive’ Genting Casino’s property.
In its ruling against Ivey, the Supreme Court stated that an ‘essential element’ of Punto Barco is that the game is ‘one of pure chance’, in which cards are delivered entirely randomly to the player.
Although Ivey had not touched ‘the deck’, Lord Hughes detailed that Ivey had gained an unfair advantage by tricking the croupier.
“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.” Lord Hughes detailed
“In a game which depends on random delivery of unknown cards, is inevitably cheating. That it was clever and skilful and must have involved remarkably sharp eyes, cannot alter that truth.”
Releasing a statement Ivey detailed that the ruling made ‘no sense to him’ and that it went against the logic of gambling.
‘It is very frustrating that the UK judges have no experience or understanding of casinos and Advantage Play, or the ongoing battle between casinos and professional gamblers attempting to level the playing field”.
Paul Willcock, President and Chief Operating Officer of Genting UK, commented on the outcome; “We are delighted that the High Court, the Court of Appeal and now the Supreme Court have all found in Genting’s favour, confirming that we acted fairly and properly at all times and that Mr Ivey’s conduct did indeed amount to cheating. This entirely vindicates Genting’s decision not to pay Mr Ivey, a decision that was not taken lightly.”