UK Supreme Court Hears Phil Ivey’s Crockfords Baccarat Appeal Case

The UK Supreme Court is set to hear today poker pro Phil Ivey’s case in relation to his unpaid baccarat winnings of £7.8 million from Crockfords Casino in London.

Ivey played punto banco, a popular baccarat variant, at the above-mentioned casino in August 2012. The player accumulated winnings of close to £8 million, but was denied those after the casino found out that he had deployed the highly controversial edge sorting technique.

Ivey and his companion player Cheng Yin Sun sued the emblematic gambling venue. However, the UK Court of Appeal ruled in the casino’s favor late last year, claiming that the two players’ actions at the baccarat table “amounted to cheating.”

Generally speaking, players deploy edge sorting to improve their edge against the casino by exploring irregularities on the backs of playing cards. Ivey and Sun admitted to using the technique while playing at Crockfords. However, the two players did not consider their actions ones equal to cheating. Following last year’s court ruling, Ivey told media that he simply deployed skill to eventually improve his chances of winning.

While at the casino, the popular poker pro and his companion player asked dealers to rotate the cards so as to be able to spot discrepancies on their backs. According to Ivey, this was not against the casino’s rules and that it should have taken preliminary measures to prevent players from deploying their skills to improve their odds.

Denying the cheating ruling, the player said that cheating represents “a dishonest state of mind.” However, he did not believe his actions amounted to cheating.

The three judges who heard Ivey’s case in the UK Court of Appeal were split on their ruling whether his play constituted a form of cheating under the Gambling Act 2005 or not. Two judges ruled against the player, while one of them argued that the decision stated that Ivey’s play was an act of “honest cheating,” a statement that was simply startling in its nature.

The player and his legal team turned to the UK Supreme Court, asking to be permitted to appeal the ruling. In March, the nation’s highest court allowed the appeal. It is to hear the case and Ivey’s arguments today, but according to people with knowledge of the matter, it may take several weeks before it announces its decision.

Generally speaking, the Supreme Court will have to decide whether Ivey breached the Gambling Act or not. If he is found to have acted in violation of the UK’s main gambling law, Crockfords will be allowed to retain the winnings.

Ivey is currently locked in a separate but very similar in its nature legal case with Atlantic City’s Borgata casino. However, the player is the defendant in that case. He is being sued by the gambling venue for deploying edge sorting while playing baccarat at its premises. Ivey and Sun won the amount of $9.6 million over eight playing sessions back in 2012. The Borgata paid out their earnings before finding out about the use of the contentious technique and now wants to be returned the money.

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