Judge Orders Poker Pro Phil Ivey To Pay Borgata $10 Million

[toc]It is not a cheerful holiday season for poker pro Phil Ivey.

A US District Court judge in New Jersey ruled on Dec. 15 that Ivey and co-defendant Cheng Yin Sun are required to pay Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City the sum of $10.1 million. The ruling is the latest in Ivey’s ordeal with the casino surrounding a 2012 baccarat session.

Ivey’s history with Borgata and baccarat

Ivey is a poker player, but he is also a regular at the table games. The famous pro convinced Borgata to let him play baccarat at a private table in 2012. Other stipulations for the session included a dealer who spoke Mandarin and the ability to have Sun sit beside him while he played.

Ivey left up over $9 million after four sessions at the New Jersey casino. He had a similar successful baccarat session at the British casino Crockford’s. He left that property up over $12 million.

What is edge-sorting?

The casinos investigated Ivey’s respective sessions there and concluded he was engaged in a practice called edge-sorting. Using defects on the card backs of the deck used in the game, Ivey was able to determine what some of the face-down cards were and play accordingly.

Apparently Yin Sun spoke in Mandarin and instructed the dealer to turn cards a certain way in order to make the defects in printing more obvious to Ivey. Nothing Ivey and his partner did was explicitly illegal. Nonetheless, Crockford’s refused to pay him his winnings.

Borgata sued to get back the money the property paid him. Ivey responded with a countersuit.

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Previous rulings

Ivey spent much of 2016 in litigation on both cases. An October ruling in the Borgata case determined Ivey was not explicitly cheating.

The judge did conclude, however, that his actions amounted to breach of contract. Representatives for Borgata were then required to determine an appropriate sum for payment which took into account damages in addition to the fiscal loss.

New ruling sets sum

Borgata calculated a number for damages. Ivey’s legal team had 20 days to counter. After those processes were complete, the judge took both into consideration when determining the $10.1 million sum.

The numbers put forth by Borgata were challenged by District Court judge Noel Hillman. The New Jersey Law Journal reports Hillman rejected Borgata’s proposal in excess of $15 million that took into account what the casino was expected to win had edge-sorting not been used. He deemed the calculation method too speculative to merit consideration.

Hillman did include over $500,000 of Ivey’s craps winnings that needed to be returned to the casino. Ivey used his baccarat profits to play craps after a session.

The judge also ruled Ivey and Sun did not have to reimburse almost $250,000 in comps for the casino. Comps are a common occurrence in casinos for both winning and losing players. With that in mind, there was no reasonable expectation the pair should compensate the casino for these free offerings.

The Borgata case seems to be resolved unless Ivey’s team appeals. The Crockford’s case is still in the appeals process.

About the Author

Jessica Welman

Jessica Welman is a longtime member of the poker media and online gambling world. She has worked as a tournament reporter for the World Poker Tour, co-hosted a podcast for Poker Road, and served as the managing editor for WSOP.com. Welman has been involved for livestreams for the WSOP and WPT and worked as a consultant on many other poker productions. She can be found on Twitter @jesswelman.