Outplay the Cheater: How Phil Ivey Outsmarted a Casino for $10.13 Million, But Paid the Price for It Later

Outplay the Cheater The Story of Phil Ivey 2024

Phil Ivey’s case is known as the “card shirt case” because that’s how the poker player pulled off his scam: he identified the card suit using flawed decks and pulled the scheme more than once.

Before the cheating was exposed, Ivey walked away from the Borgata casino with nothing less than $9.4 million. In total, he won $10.13 million from them before Borgata took legal action. Today, we’ll talk about how it all happened and how it ended.

Who Was Phil Ivey Before the Borgata Incident

By the time of the scandal, Ivey was already recognized and famous. He is still considered one of the best poker players on the planet. Phil Ivey proved his skills by winning ten World Series of Poker bracelets and many other card game awards. Throughout his career, he has earned approximately $23 million, according to various estimates and sources.

Outplay the Cheater The Story of Phil Ivey 2024

Ivey’s reputation as a calm player was established in the world of poker. However, he wasn’t just into poker, he also had a weakness for baccarat. For instance, in 2008, during the Aussie Millions Championship, Ivey lost $6,586,000 playing baccarat over two nights, at the current exchange rate.

In baccarat, the player faces off against the casino one-on-one. The game’s rules are roughly as follows: a deck of cards is shuffled and divided into two stacks – “player” and “banker.” Bets are placed on one side or a tie. Then, cards are revealed one by one from each stack and compared against each other. Each card has its own value. The bet wins if the card’s value is higher. It’s believed that in baccarat, everything is determined by probability theory and it’s impossible to predict the outcome. That was true until one incident.

Also, we offer you to read about Bernie Madoff who deceived Wall Street financiers, crashed the US economy, and created the biggest pyramid scheme. Check out our article.

Ivey’s System: How the Player Outsmarted Various Casinos

Known for his weakness in baccarat, Phil seemed like an easy target to casino owners. So, in 2012, when he proposed to the London casino Crockfords to play baccarat with additional conditions, the representatives of the casino agreed. The conditions were strange but feasible and did not contradict the casino’s rules:

  • The game had to be conducted in a separate room, away from prying eyes;
  • The dealer had to speak Chinese;
  • The deck had to be shuffled by a shuffle machine;
  • The last condition was that Ivey would play with his companion, Chinese “Kelly” Cheung Yin Sun.

Phil Ivey promised that the game would last a long time, and as proof of his serious intentions, he transferred a deposit of $1,274,300 to Crockfords’ account. To avoid fraud, the game was recorded by dozens of video cameras.

Outplay the Cheater The Story of Phil Ivey 2024

Initially, things were going well for the casino. They started with putting $63,715 at stake, and Phil Ivey smoothly lost $637,150. Then the player upped the ante to $191,145. And unexpectedly for everyone, luck turned in his favor. After that, Ivey didn’t lose a single round. In two days, he cleaned out Crockfords for $9,302,390.

The casino’s security department sounded the alarm. They assured the player and his companion, Cheung Yin Sun, that the winnings would be paid out, but actually, they started an investigation. Ivey’s winnings were frozen, and the Gaming Commission was notified. All video recordings were reviewed. Dealers, game participants, and other casino employees who had contact with Phil and his companion were interrogated. No compromising evidence was found: the investigation results indicated that the winnings were fair. But a suspicious fact emerged – from April to June, Ivey and the same companion beat Borgata in Atlantic City using the same scheme. And the conditions of the private games were the same.

Outplay the Cheater The Story of Phil Ivey 2024

Crockfords’ security department refused to pay out Ivey’s winnings, suspecting him of running a fraudulent scheme. So, Phil went to court to claim his winnings legally. There, Ivey detailed his plans and the scheme of his winnings for the case.

Attention to Detail — No Luck Involved

Ivey beat casinos thanks to a flaw in the card backs. He learned that casinos mainly used decks of cards from the Gemaco company. And that there was a flaw in the large batch of decks at that time. Cardbacks of different denominations differed visually. And if you knew where to look, you could accurately determine the card’s denomination:

Outplay the Cheater The Story of Phil Ivey 2024

So, Cheung and Ivey would appear in casinos where Gemaco cards were used. They also asked to replace the deck if they realized they had received an unflawed pack. Without the Chinese woman, the scheme wouldn’t have been as extensive and grandiose: Cheung Sun increased the chances of winning. When the key cards for the game – sevens, eights, and nines – were revealed, she asked the dealer to flip them a specific way that didn’t reveal the back design. This technique, called “edge sorting,” is controversial and casinos typically ban it. Cheung explained it as Chinese superstition.

Outplay the Cheater The Story of Phil Ivey 2024

After flipping the cards, both Phil Ivey and Cheung Sun found it easier to identify flaws and determine the exact denomination of the flipped cards. In this scenario, the accomplices acted against the gambling establishments on their own terms, with a 20% advantage. Casino staff usually didn’t refuse strange requests. Why? Firstly, Phil Ivey was a prominent VIP client. Secondly, the Chinese were indeed known for their superstitions.

Disclaimer: Attempts to exploit imperfections in cards or other casino equipment are illegal in most jurisdictions. Such actions can be considered cheating and can result in legal repercussions, including being banned from casinos and potentially facing criminal charges.

Is Phil Ivey a Pawn?

There is an interesting theory that in the duo of Cheung Sun and Ivey, the mastermind of the operation and the villainess was Cheung Sun. She informed Ivey about the flawed decks and devised the plan. Moreover, the Chinese woman had several partners like Phil. And with each one, she gradually robbed casinos owned by the Genting Group.

The motive was personal.

Outplay the Cheater The Story of Phil Ivey 2024

Cheung Sun suffered from gambling addiction and often lost. And when in 2007 the Chinese woman once again owed money – about $100,000 – the Genting Group sued her and she was imprisoned.

Since then, the Chinese woman vowed to repay them for the disgrace. How she learned about the flawed cards is unknown. But according to the New York Times, since 2011, she has won approximately $20 million playing baccarat.

After Phil’s confession and honest account of his gaming system, the court sided with the Crockfords casino and refused to pay out the winnings. While Ivey argued his strategy exploited a loophole, the courts ruled it gave him an unfair advantage, breaching the casino’s trust and canceling his winnings. But that wasn’t the end of Ivey’s troubles because several more casinos, including Borgata, and then the Gemaco company, filed counterclaims.

Outplay the Cheater The Story of Phil Ivey 2024

Borgata decided to reclaim their $10 million. They managed to prove that Ivey’s actions misled the casino staff. However, Gemaco only won $27 in court – the cost of one flawed deck of cards.

But Borgata’s demand to return $10 million was approved by the court. However, Phil had no intention of complying. He deliberately dragged out the process, despite the court’s decision in favor of the casino, and asked for at least a postponement. Then Borgata filed another lawsuit, this time for $36 million.

The second lawsuit included moral damages for the harm, the theoretical amount that Ivey, according to the casino’s calculations, should have lost over the entire period of the game, and the cost of personal service.

Outplay the Cheater The Story of Phil Ivey 2024

By 2019, the court decided to freeze all known assets of Ivey. Some people say that he regrets his actions, but it hasn’t been confirmed. Ivey has disappeared from almost all social radars. There are rumors that he has fled the United States and is now playing unofficially in closed games with Asian tycoons.

Outplay the Cheater The Story of Phil Ivey 2024

Right now, Ivey is neck-deep in debt, unable to pay the casino compensation, and from 2016 to 2018, he wasn’t accepted into any poker competitions. There are also rumors that he was excluded from the World Series of Poker (WSOP) 2019 competition an hour after registering due to legal issues.

How Ivey’s Story Ended

Due to his overconfidence and greed, Ivey met with failure. If he hadn’t insisted on receiving the winnings from Crockfords and hadn’t personally revealed his scheme, he might have been living comfortably with the money he had already won.

Outplay the Cheater The Story of Phil Ivey 2024

In Ivey’s case, karma played out poignantly. The casinos challenged Ivey’s winnings in court and wiped out both his wealth and career. When Hollywood decided to make a movie about the incident involving Ivey and Borgata, they ultimately removed Phil from the working title and storyline to deny him any chance of publicity.

The unreleased film, codenamed “Baccarat Queen,” awaits its moment, but even this version is unlikely to see the light of day — apparently, the casinos don’t want to promote Cheng Yin Sun either.

What Conclusions Can Be Drawn?

Not every hustler’s success story against the casino ends with the player’s triumph.

Outplay the Cheater The Story of Phil Ivey 2024

Phil Ivey attempted to cheat the system, openly flaunting his actions. He used someone else’s scheme and allowed himself to become a pawn — for which he paid the price.

This story can serve as a lesson for other gamblers. Don’t be greedy. And in attempting to outsmart the casino, be prepared that gambling establishments will also push back.

Rate article
( No ratings yet )
AffDays - everything about affiliate marketing
Verified by MonsterInsights