Why I Don’t Respect Phil Ivey Anymore

Henry Jacobson, Bear Hug Poker

I have always be a big fan of Phil Ivey’s. His savant-like status as a world beating poker player have always held me in awe. His ability to win millions through poker-related prop bets at the WSOP has enthralled me all the more.Last May, we heard about a situation that Ivey was involved in at Crockfords in London, England where Ivey purportedly won 7.8 million pounds ($12 million USD) playing a version of Baccarat known as Punto Banco. As the Poker News article below reports, Crockford’s refused to pay Ivey his winnings because lvey used a method known as “edge sorting” to cheat the game and the casino.

Now the Borgata in Atlantic City has brought charges against Ivey in connection with a $9.6 million USD score at the Baccarat tables based on Ivey using the same “edge sorting” technique, but this time in collusion with a playing card manufacturer. The Borgata must feel shell shocked when one considers that on top of Ivey’s $9.6 million score, they suffered a $15 million loss to Don Johnson in a well-publicized case of Johnson simply outsmarting the casino by negotiating discounts of up to 20% on his losses in addition to getting casino management to agree to forcing dealers to stand on soft seventeen and allowing Johnson to split hands dealt with like ranks up to four ways. They also accepted all of Johnson’s humongous action which along with these edges caused nervous dealers to make mistakes which in essence allowed Johnson “do-overs” amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars. These concessions together with Johnson’s “perfect” play were enough to move the needle in Johnson’s direction and actually give him an edge over the house, which he then parlayed into a $15 million win, as pit bosses stood around like deer looking into headlights.

But I digress, first of all it should be noted that Don Johnson did not cheat and has never been accused of cheating. The rub for me is that Phil Ivey has always been one of us. Yes, we’ve always known that Ivey has been reported to be Bellagio’s biggest customer, routinely winning and losing millions at the craps tables. But at the end of the day he was a poker player, a poker player we loved, and as many have believed, the best poker player in the world.

It came as a shock to many to hear that prior to Ivey’s recent multi-million dollar score in a high roller event at the Aussie Millions, he had reportedly busted his bankroll. This is the same Phil Ivey who was cashing checks for millions of dollars each month when Full Tilt Poker was in its heyday.

To think of Phil Ivey as broke and now saddled with legal problems must come as a shock to many, as admittedly it does to me. I think it’s fair to ask at this point who Phil Ivey is. Is he the Zen-like intimidator who appeared unbeatable at the poker table from the time he burst on the scene as a 21-year old, or is he a degenerate gambler who has now resorted to cheating as a way to recover his losses and rebuild his bankroll?

I have always thought of Ivey as an ambassador of poker. Someone to be admired and who put a positive face on the game with his classy behavior and creative, world-beating play. I have always thought of Ivey, who in spite of all the hits that the game of poker has taken as the result of truly terrible publicity generated by Full Tilt Poker, Black Friday and the UIGEA (which has now managed to make the ham-handed Feds look smart) was part of the recipe that would surely bring poker back into the public eye as the smart, skill-based game that it is.

I guess the bottom line for this blogger and poker professional is that Phil Ivey, who used to represent the best that poker had to offer has lost my respect and that makes me sad.

Borgata Files $9.6 Million Lawsuit Against Phil Ivey for Alleged Baccarat Cheating

·        April 11, 2014
·        Brett Collson
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The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City is suing poker legend Phil Ivey for $9.6 million in winnings at the Baccarat table, according to a report from the New Jersey Law Journal on Friday.

The Borgata lawsuit alleges that Ivey exploited manufacturing flaws in playing cards during four sessions of Baccarat at the casino in 2012. Borgata claims that Ivey was able to spot tiny variations in the pattern printed on the backs of the cards in a method called “edge sorting.”

Also named in the suit is card manufacturer Gemaco Inc., which designed the cards, as well as Ivey’s partner,Cheng Yin Sun, who reportedly accompanied Ivey to the Baccarat table and gave instructions to the dealer.

Among the charges listed in the lawsuit include breach of contract, racketeering, fraud, conversion, unjust enrichment, and civil conspiracy.

Ivey is currently involved in the biggest legal battle in UK casino history in a very similar case. Last May he sued the Crockfords Casino for withholding £7.8 million (about $12 million) he won playing Punto Banco, a form of Baccarat. Like Borgata, Crockfords claimed that Ivey used the “edge sorting” method at the casino.

Ivey admitted to using edge sorting at Crockfords and said the casino had only itself to blame for not recognizing it. He released the following statement last May:

“I am deeply saddened that Crockfords has left me no alternative but to proceed with legal action, following its decision to withhold my winnings. I have much respect for Gentings, which has made this a very difficult decision for me… Over the years I have won and lost substantial sums at Crockfords and I have always honored my commitments. At the time, I was given a receipt for my winnings but Crockfords subsequently withheld payment. I, therefore, feel I have no alternative but to take legal action.”

This is a developing story. We’ll have more information as soon as it is available.

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