Phil Ivey Loses £7.7m Case Against Crockfords Casino

Even if you’re one of the world’s best poker players, the house always wins, as Phil Ivey discovered yesterday after losing his high-profile lawsuit against Crockfords casino in Mayfair. In August 2012, the 10-times WSOP bracelet legend took the casino for a massive £7.7 million in winnings, but the gambling venue subsequently failed to pay up accusing the 38-year-old American pro of using an “edge-sorting technique” to cheat at punto banco.
During the trial, Ivey’s counsel, Richard Spearman QC, tried to convince the court that his client’s edge-sorting approach was a legitimate strategy employed by Ivey to exploit weaknesses in the casino’s system, but in the end Mr Justice Mitting decided the technique was not a legitimate strategy and that Crockfords had no liability to pay him.
Crockford’s lawyers also managed to convince the court of the subterfuge Ivey had employed in order to convince the croupier he was a highly superstitious player who needed to play with the same ‘defective’ single pack of cards during his punto banco sessions. Summing up the issue in his ruling, Judge Mitting, explained:
“Mr Ivey had gained himself an advantage and did so by using a croupier as his innocent agent or tool. It was not simply taking advantage of error on her part or an anomaly practiced by the casino, for which he was not responsible. He was doing it in circumstances where he knew that she and her superiors did not know the consequences of what she had done at his instigation. This is, in my view, cheating for the purpose of civil law.”
Following the court’s decision, Phil Ivey was saddled with the court costs, and told he could not appeal the ruling, although an application would be considered it went to the Court of Appeal directly. If one positive thing came from the case, however, it was the fact Phil Ivey got the opportunity to put his side of the argument forward, which basically denied all acknowledgment of cheating. As Ivey explained after leaving court:
“I am obviously disappointed with this judge’s decision. As I said in court, it is not my nature to cheat and I would never do anything to risk my reputation.
Meanwhile, Crockfords Casino seemed restrained in its reaction to the ruling, possibly unhappy to have lost one of its high-rolling patrons, as well as the negative publicity centred on the casino during the whole episode. Commenting after the case, a Crockfords Casino spokesman said:
“Crockfords is pleased with the judgment of the High Court today supporting its defence of a claim by Mr Ivey. It is our policy not to discuss our clients’ affairs in public and we very much regret that proceedings were brought against us.”

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