World-famous poker player Phil Ivey says his disputed $9.6 million baccarat win at Atlantic City’s Borgata casino was all skill, and is seeking the dismissal of a lawsuit in which the casino accuses him of cheating.
John Falcicchio, a spokesman for Ivey, told the Associated Press the motion was filed Wednesday night.
In April, the Borgata sued Ivey, alleging he and an associate exploited a defect in cards that enabled them to sort and arrange good cards. The casino asserted that technique gave him an unfair advantage on four occasions between April and October 2012. The casino claims the technique, called edge sorting, violates New Jersey casino gambling regulations.
But Ivey’s motion says his win was simply the result of skill and good observation.
“Each and every penny of defendants’ winnings was the result of sheer skill,” Ivey’s lawyers wrote in court papers.
The Borgata had no immediate comment.
In legal terms, Ivey’s lawyers responded to the lawsuit in three main ways. They asserted that Ivey and the associate did nothing that could be considered cheating; that a six-month statute of limitations to recover money lost in a supposedly illegal game had expired; and that supposed violations of state casino regulations can only be pursued by state gambling regulators and not individual casinos.
The lawsuit claims the cards were defective in that the pattern on the back was not uniform. The cards have rows of small white circles designed to look like the tops of cut diamonds, but the Borgata claims some of them were only a half diamond or a quarter of one.
The lawsuit claims that Ivey and his companion instructed a dealer to flip cards in particular ways, depending on whether it was a desirable card in baccarat. The numbers 6, 7, 8 and 9 are considered good cards. Bad cards would be flipped in different directions, so that after several hands of cards, the good ones were arranged in a certain manner — with the irregular side of the card facing in a specific direction — that Ivey could spot when they came out of the dealer chute.
The lawsuit claims Ivey wanted the cards shuffled by an automatic shuffling machine, which would not alter the way each card was aligned.
Ivey’s response claims he simply noticed things that anyone playing the game could have observed, and bet accordingly.
A lawsuit filed in Britain’s High Court by the Malaysia-based Genting Group, a major casino operator, makes a similar claim against Ivey. It alleges Ivey and an accomplice amassed almost $12 million by cheating at baccarat. Ivey has denied any misconduct.
Ivey won his 10th World Series of Poker bracelet last week. He is tied for second-most all-time.