The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, N.J., believes the professional card player Phil Ivey used a technique called “edge sorting” to bilk the establishment out of millions of dollars.
In a federal lawsuit filed on Tuesday, the Borgata accuses Ivey and an unnamed accomplice of manipulating a flaw in a certain type of playing card to identify valuable cards in baccarat, the Associated Press reported. According to the lawsuit, Ivey used the method, known as “edge sorting,” to earn $9.6 million during four visits to the casino in 2012.
Gamblers who utilize “edge sorting” do so by observing subtle flaws in the way sets of playing cards -- in this case, cards manufactured by Kansas City-based Gemaco Inc. -- are cut during production. The cards are supposed to be cut so that the pattern on the back is identical, regardless of which way the card faces. The cards used during Ivey’s trips to the Borgata allegedly contained a defect that allows observant players to distinguish baccarat’s “good” cards -- 6, 7, 8 and 9 -- from less valuable cards.
Ivey's lawyer declined on Friday to comment on the lawsuit, the AP said, and Gemaco didn't respond to a request for comment from the news wire service.
The Borgata’s lawsuit outlines the manner in which it claims that Ivey and his companion used “edge sorting” to win money, in direct violation of the casino’s rules. Ivey allegedly instructed the dealer to turn cards in a certain way based on whether or not they were valuable, the AP reported.
After several hands, Ivey was able to spot valuable cards by noting the flaw in their design as they came out of the dealer’s chute, and adjusted his bet accordingly. The 38-year-old also instructed the dealer to use an automatic card shuffler so that the direction that each card faced wouldn't be altered.
This isn’t the first time that Ivey has been accused by a casino of earning money through dubious means. Crocksfords, a casino in London, in May refused to pay Ivey nearly $12 million in baccarat winnings, asserting that he had won the money with the same technique. Ivey reportedly admitted to "edge sorting," but claimed that the tactic is a strategy, not evidence of cheating.
Ivey is one of the most successful players in the history of the World Series of Poker, earning nine championship bracelets and finishing “in the money” on 52 separate occasions.