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Borgata Demands $10.1 Million from Iconic Poker Pro Phil Ivey

Phil Ivey at the WSOP Main Event final table back in 2009.

Borgata Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City would like $10.1 million from globe-trotting poker pro Phil Ivey immediately.

The demand stems from an enormous baccarat session that Ivey played at Borgata in 2012 where he was able to take the house for $10.1 million.

The high-stakes poker pro (and a partner) detected a fundamental flaw in the brand of cards the casino was using for the game and was able to gain an edge over the course of the multimillion-dollar session.

After performing an investigation into the session, Borgata launched a case against Ivey in 2014, demanding the pro pay back his winnings. Since then there have been numerous twists and turns in the case. The judge eventually sided with Borgata but Ivey immediately appealed the decision.

The case began heating up this summer when Ivey’s legal team argued that having to surrender that amount of money would have a devastating impact on the poker pro’s career.

This month Borgata’s legal team responded by citing Ivey’s recent success on the international tournament circuit as evidence he has the means and ability to avoid financial ruin.

Ivey Currently Sitting on $2.4 Million in Tournament Earnings in 2018

Ivey has been largely absent from the international poker tournament circuit over the last few years but made a return in 2018, much to the delight of poker fans around the world.

Perhaps most notably Ivey officially returned to the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas where he’s won 10 gold bracelets over the years. Ivey managed to earn just over $130,000 at the WSOP this summer, which is fairly modest by his standards.

It was earlier in the year, however, that Ivey really made some big scores. Ivey attended the high-stakes Triton Super High Roller Series in Montenegro where he was able to win the HK$250,000 buy-in Short Deck tournament for $604,992 and then place third in the enormous HK$1,000,000 buy-in tournament for $1,666,480.

His overall tournament earnings for 2018 sit at $2.4 million as of August but it’s important to note that official tournament results fail to take buy-ins into account.

It’s conceivable that a super high roller such as Ivey isn’t even having a winning year due to the amount he’s spent buying into the biggest tournaments. Consider that Ivey lost the $1-million buy-in for the Big One for One Drop last month by finishing in eighth place (the money started at five players left).

There’s also private cash games to take into account. Ivey allegedly plays in some of the biggest cash games in the world and none of the results are recorded.

Borgata Not the Only Casino Ivey Struck

The Borgata was not the only casino to fall victim to Ivey’s card recognition technique (which is officially referred to as “edge-sorting”).

Ivey and his associate Cheung “Kelly” Yin Sun also played at Crockford’s Casino in 2012 where they were able to win £7.7 million playing Punto Banco (a baccarat variant).

Crockford’s did not pay out Ivey’s money, however. The casino held the money in escrow and, after an investigation, refused to pay the poker pro.

A high court in London eventually sided with Crockford’s and the casino was permitted to keep the money. Ivey appealed the decision but finally lost the case completely last October.

One of the main criticisms of both cases is that if Ivey had lost money playing the same session, then the casino would not have returned money because of defective cards.

In addition the edge-sorting technique that Ivey utilized only results in an estimated seven percent advantage so there’s a chance that he still could have lost.

On the other hand, Ivey and partner Yin Sun had a few requirements for the casino:

  • The dealer had to speak Cantonese
  • The players never touched the cards
  • The dealer had to sort the deck in a particular way
  • The deck could never be changed

Those requests are somewhat unusual but the casino staff likely agreed when they saw the chance for a huge win against the poker pro.

Ivey is renowned as a gambler and spoke openly about massive gambling sessions during the poker boom of the mid-2000s. He also allegedly lost $2 million betting on the Colts to beat the Saints in Super Bowl 44. If you’re looking to avoid doing the same, you might want to check out OddsShark’s NFL home page for the latest odds.