Judge Denies Phil Ivey’s Motion for Summary Judgment in Borgata Edge Sorting Case

Phil Ivey is arguably one of the best poker players of our generation. However, over the past several years, we have been hearing less about his poker endeavors and more about his court troubles. And although the player may have hoped for eventual resolution of his legal issues, the latest developments have indicated that he will have to wait for a while longer.

The Beginning

The player has been locked in a court battle with Atlantic City’s Bortata Hotel Casino & Spa over $10 million in baccarat winnings obtained by him and his companion player with the help of a highly controversial playing technique.

In 2012, Ivey and his companion player Cheng Yin Sun won the amount of $9.6 million for playing eight baccarat sessions over four separate visits at the Borgata. The casino paid the two players their winnings, only to file a lawsuit against them afterwards. The popular Atlantic City casino argued that it had to be returned the above-mentioned sum as well as damages that swelled the total amount to $10.1 million, for which Ivey is still being sued.

Borgata’s realization that the two players deployed the edge sorting technique to improve their edge against the house was cited as the reason for the court case. Generally speaking, the technique involves players’ capability to explore discrepancies on the backs of playing cards and to exploit them.

Last October, Noel Hillman, the US District Court Judge tasked with the case, sided with the Borgata, ruling that Ivey and Sun did not violate baccarat rules by deploying edge sorting. However, they were found to have violated the New Jersey Casino Control Act and were therefore obliged to return their winnings to the Borgata and thus improve their edge against the casino.

In January, Ivey’s legal team requested Judge Hillman’s summary judgment on the case to be entered. Only this way, the player would be able to appeal the ruling in the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Latest Developments

Last month, Judge Hillman denied the summary motion, arguing that another part of the three-year case needed to be resolved first. Apart from Ivey and Sun, the Borgata has also been suing Kansas-based card manufacturer Gemaco.

The two players requested decks of purple Gemaco cards to play with during their eight playing sessions at the Borgata. That particular type of cards had manufacturing defects on their backs that made it possible for Sun, who is notoriously known for her excellent edge sorting skills, to explore the discrepancies and use them to improve their odds. The Borgata claimed that Gemaco had broken contractual terms by providing defective cards, a claim the manufacturer denied.

The Atlantic City casino has, too, sought summary judgment for its case against Ivey and Sun. Following Judge Hillman’s latest decision, the casino may either continue its battle with Gemaco in court or opt for off-court settlement and prepare for what the future has for it in relation to the Ivey legal dispute. The gambling venue is yet to receive the contentious baccarat winnings, which the poker pro has continuously refused to return over the past several years.

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