Last week, Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City filed a lawsuit against Phil Ivey seeking reimbursement of $9.626 million in winnings he won at the baccarat table during four sessions back in 2012. The nearly 60-page complaint, which PokerNews recently obtained in full, alleges that Ivey used "edge sorting" — a technique where in which he was able to spot tiny variations in the pattern printed on the backs of the cards.
The suit also names 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.
According to the complaint, which can be viewed below, Ivey arranged a visit to Borgata, and "because of his notoriety as a high-stakes gambler, and the amount of money he intended to gamble, Ivey was able to negotiate special arrangements to play baccarat at Borgata."
Among the arrangements he requested were:
- He agreed to wire $1 million to Borgata;
- The maximum bet was $50,000 per hand;
- He was provided with his own pit;
- Supplied a dealer who spoke Mandarin Chinese;
- Allowed to have a guest sit at the table;
- One eight-deck shoe of purple Gemaco Borgata playing cards would be used for the entirety of play with the use of an automatic shuffler.
These requests were granted under the pretext that Ivey was superstitious.
"Ivey misrepresented his motive, intention and purpose and did not communicate the true reason for his requests to Borgata at any relevant time," the complaint states. "Ivey’s true motive, intention, and purpose in negotiating these playing arrangements was to create a situation in which he could surreptitiously manipulate what he knew to be a defect in the playing cards in order to gain an unfair advantage over Borgata. At all relevant times, Borgata was not aware of the defect in the playing cards or Ivey’s true motive for negotiating special arrangements."
Ivey purportedly won $2.416 million on April 11, and then won another $1.597 million in early May when he played for 56 hours betting an average of $36,000 per hand. In July, Ivey was able to negotiate that the maximum bet be raised to $100,000 per hand.
As the complaint states: "Ivey’s true motive, intention, and purpose in negotiating these revised playing arrangements for the third trip was to create a situation in which he could make larger bets while surreptitiously manipulating what he knew to be a defect in the playing cards to gain an unfair advantage over Borgata."
As a result, Ivey was able to win $4.787 million in a 17-hour session around July 26, 2012. His average bet in that session was $89,000. Ivey went on to win an additional $824,900 in October when he was betting an average of $93,800 per hand, though he was up $3.5 million at one point.
"Upon information and belief, Ivey intentionally lost a portion of his winnings at the end of the October 7-8, 2012 baccarat session," the complaint said.
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. The situation is referenced in the Borgata lawsuit.