Phil Ivey loses poker winnings court battle

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Phil Ivey

World-renowned poker champion Phil Ivey hit the headlines recently after he was denied a £7 million payout from a London-based casino.

The 38-year-old rose to fame under the nickname of 'No Home Jerome' while he was playing in casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey. In 2002, he proved himself as a poker champion when he took home three bracelets at the World Series of Poker.

Today however, he has upset casino bosses in London's Crockfords Club, based in the prestigious Mayfair district. He recently sued the owners after he won £7.7 million ($12.5 million) in a 'Punto Banco' version of Baccarat but was only credited with his $1 million stake.

Ivey returned to the United States after being told that the winnings would be wired over to his account, but was disappointed to learn he had only received his stake. Gentings Casinos, who own the Crockfords Club, alleged that Ivey had used an illegal technique while playing known as 'edge-sorting.' The technique provides the player with a 'first-card advantage,' statistically giving them better odds of winning, but is not one which is recognised by the casino.

Now, after taking the owners to high court, it has emerged that Ivey has lost his case. Lawyers claimed that Ivey's methods of play violated the premise of the baccarat game and hence there was no gaming contract.

Unhappy with the verdict, Ivey said through a spokesman: “I believe that what we did was a legitimate strategy and we did nothing more than exploit Crockfords’ failures to take proper steps to protect themselves against a player of my ability.

“I am obviously disappointed with this judge’s decision. As I said in court, it is not my nature to cheat and I would never do anything to risk my reputation.”

Indeed, Ivey has quite a reputation to uphold, particularly considering his humble beginnings not only in Atlantic City but also playing online. The star has accrued more than $7.3 million in years past playing at prestigious online casino sites. Now, with sites like www.casinosagafans.com offering players more choice than ever, there could be the opportunity for a new player to rise from the ranks if Ivey's reputation suffers.

But while Ivey insists he did not cheat, judges were not quite so convinced, and told the press: “It was not simply taking advantage of error on her part or an anomaly practised by the casino, for which he was not responsible. He was doing it in circumstances where he knew that she and her superiors did not know the consequences of what she had done at his instigation.

“This is, in my view, cheating for the purpose of civil law.” 

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