There had to be something fishy about Phil Ivey’s win at Crockfords casino in Mayfair in 2012. I said at the time that such a mathematical implausibility had to be iffy despite his legions of admirers believing he can beat the casino through his God given talent and walk on water etc etc.
Well of course it was suss and before too long the story was out.
The decks of cards used in the casino had been imperfectly printed so that Ivey and his accomplice could read the backs of (some of) the cards. There’s no suggestion of card marking – it was a just design flaw that he was exploiting in a system they’ve called “edge sorting” so there’s no possibility of a criminal case to answer.
This is all old news of course, but last week it transpired that Ivey had form for this in at least one other casino. Last week it emerged that the Borgota casino is suing him for exactly the same thing. Like I say it’s not criminal matter – they are suing him in a civil court because they just want their money back. It’s $9.6m million they are after and I reckon they’ve got as much chance of retrieving that as my Mum’s cat does of winning the Irish Open.
What a life eh?
He won $9.6m between April and July of 2012 – and actually received the cash – but by August the same year he was back in Crockfords fleecing them for £7.8m. Well I say “fleecing” but unlike the Borgota, Crockfords withheld payment and Ivey is having to sue them for the money.
I can’t help feeling that this was the best casino scam in the world if only he hadn’t got so greedy at Crockfords. After all, how much money does a man need? I dunno – maybe he felt compelled to take advantage of his “edge” (Boom Boom, I’m here all week) before someone else noticed the card markings.
Earlier this year Dan Bilzerian was mouthing off about Phil Ivey being broke. It’s astounding that anyone could get through such sums of money but if you’ve got a genuine problem there is no amount of money large enough to prevent that fall to busto. Bilzerian could even be right but what of it? Phil Ivey will always have poker to fall back on whereas when professional bell end Bilzo blows the last of daddy’s stolen cash on hookers and roids he’ll have no way to recoup and he’ll have about as many friends……well probably as many friends as he actually does now.
It makes me smile when I think of all the frantic head scratching done by the investigators: the man hours spent reviewing all that video footage and the intense grillings their internal investigators must have given those poor members of staff under extreme pressure. And all along the answer was right in front of them – the cards themselves, which they had impounded as evidence.
You have to wonder how a casino could fall for this caper. Some of the requests the casino granted in their efforts to accommodate this high roller were just ridiculous, with no whim too daft to bow to. Remarkably they swallowed his breeze that it was all in the name of “superstition” and didn’t realise they were being had over.
“I want a dealer who is fluent in Mandarin”
“Yes Mr Ivey, we can arrange that for you”
“Oooh I’m superstitious – can point the cards at right angles to us please” (so he can see the tiny differences better)
“Anything you say Yes Mr Ivey”
“Use that shuffling machine will you please” (preserves the order of cards which they’d identified – actually a great wheeze because they wouldn’t expect this) – “because I’ve got a superstition about shuffling machines“
“Why of course Mr Ivey”
“Use the same decks of cards please – because I’m so superstitious”
“Three bags full Mr Ivey”
Surely they had to question why the world’s best poker player with a huge real edge would play silly games like baccarat and banco punto with a massive house edge in the first place? Especially when he started winning over 16 hour sessions. You’d just exclude him on his return full stop.
I’ve got zero sympathy for the casinos of course but it doesn’t alter the fact that Ivey is a ….well I’ll stop short of calling him a cheat but he’s hardly “straight” is he? He’s just tried to leg over the casinos for about $20 million.
That’s not to look down on the man. Personally I would love to pull off this kind of caper.
Whatever your views on the rights and wrongs of it, one thing has been put to bed. Phil Ivey can’t beat house games over large samples for the same reason me and you can’t. All those Phil Ivey disciples out there who were saying” Pay that man his money” a la Teddy KGB, who actually believed he could beat a game of chance with such a mammoth house edge…well how deluded can you get?
I wonder how the two legal battles will end?
There’s no way the Borgota are getting their money back. Even if they win the case. That money’s gone and even if it hasn’t he won’t cough because it’s just too easy to say you’re bankrupt.
But the Crockfords case in the UK? He could win that one. And perhaps the Borgota thinks he will. It’d be pretty hard for him to claim bankruptcy if he’d just been awarded £7.8m by a British court after all :)
One wag on the 2+2 forums made a comment about the impending US legal action which summed up my thoughts quite nicely:
“This probably will never see court as you have to sue a person in their state of residence. As most of you here feel Ivey is God, they would have had to file this in Heaven. Court is in recess in Heaven right now.”