Phil Ivey’s Last Stand With Crockfords Ends With A Loss

[toc]Phil Ivey and Kelly Sun couldn’t quite pull off one last miracle win.

The pair took two casinos (Borgata AC and Crockfords London) for more than $10 million in baccarat winnings in 2012 by leveraging printing errors on the Gemaco playing cards used during their run. The casinos then refused to pay after it was discovered the players used an “unfair” advantage to rack up their titanic wins. Last week, the British Supreme Court sided with Crockfords in Ivey’s UK case.

“We are delighted that the High Court, the Court of Appeal and now the Supreme Court have all found in Genting’s favor, confirming that we acted fairly and properly at all times and that Mr. Ivey’s conduct did indeed amount to cheating,” said Genting Casinos UK President Paul Willcock. (Genting operates the Crockfords casino.)

According to The Guardian, the court’s five judges were unanimous in their decision.

What went down in 2012

While Ivey and Sun’s exploits were fairly well known in gambling circles, the general public caught wind when ESPN released a 30 for 30 podcast detailing exactly how the duo gashed Crockfords for a cool $10 million.

Basically, Sun noticed inconsistencies in the way Gemaco printed its purple cards. The inconsistencies were best leveraged in a game of single-deck baccarat, but Sun wasn’t paired at the time with a player who could earn her real money.

So through a series of friendships, she was able to link up with Ivey. The pair then came up with a strategy for using the Gemaco inconsistencies to their advantage. They’d request a private room where they’d play single-deck baccarat with purple Gemaco cards dealt so the printing abnormalities were showing. The dealer needed to speak Mandarin.

To pull those requests off, Ivey and Sun had to subtly negotiate. The private room kept the game under wraps. The cards, obviously, were purple Gemacos. And the final movement of the sly symphony was the Mandarin-speaking dealer. Sun, who speaks Mandarin, talked with the dealer throughout the first part of the game.

After she established rapport, she asked the dealer to adjust the cards to bring Sun good luck. Wish granted. Over and over again.

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Ivey and Crockfords / Borgata Casino court cases

Once Borgata and Crockfords realized what happened, they refused to pay Ivey. The poker powerhouse didn’t like that; few would. So he took Crockfords to court and lost. He filed his appeals, eventually ending up before Great Britain’s five highest judges.

Ivey wasn’t the only one battling Crockfords in court. The Borgata Casino also went toe-to-toe with Gemaco, saying the company knew its cards had irregularities. Ivey’s appeal in his own Borgata case awaits the outcome of the New Jersey casino’s tussle with Gemaco.

About the Author

J.R. Duren

A three-time winner of the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism contest, J.R. Duren works as a freelance writer with a focus on the NJ online gambling and online casino industry. He writes for a number of publications, including Bespoke Post, Our Amazing Norway, Barcelona Metropolitan, Snooth, and the Villages Daily Sun.