Professional poker player Phil Ivey says he won $11.5 million playing Punto Banco at a London casino, but authorities feel that luck alone couldn’t have been responsible for this win.
The Daily Mail of London reports that Punto Banco, a Baccarat variant, is a favorite high-stakes game of high rollers. Lance Bradley of Bluff Magazine says that Punto Banco is a game of chance alone and skill has absolutely no role to play in gains and losses.
In August, Ivey (35) and a lady visited Crockfords Casino in Mayfair, London. They played for more than 7 hours over 2 days, and although they lost a lot of money initially, they began winning in millions later. When Phil Ivey finally quit, the casino management informed him that his winnings of $11.5 million will be credited into his bank account; however, the casino has transferred only the poker player’s original stake of $1.3 million.
Stating that Ivey’s reputation as a player is spotless, Bradley says, “There’s nothing in his past that would hint at his being a cheater or unethical in any way. People say he’s arguably the best poker player in the world; but, really, there’s no argument: He’s #1. He’s known both for his skill and for his love of high-stakes games.”
The Daily Mail, however, reports that the casino management began suspecting the couple because Ivey’s female companion had lost her membership at another casino in Mayfair. Genting, which owns Crockfords Casino, has investigated Ivey’s play thoroughly, inspected the cards, interviewed the croupier, and checked the video footage, but has found that Ivey cannot be accused of any wrongdoing.
Regarding Crockfords’ failure to pay Ivey the amount he had won, Bradley says, “I’m not sure. They’re earning themselves a ton of publicity—but it’s not the kind of publicity you want. When you withhold payment, people stop trusting you; they stop playing. Maybe it’s because with nearly $12 million involved they just want to make sure every ‘I’ has been dotted and every ‘T’ crossed. Phil’s going to get his money; they’re just making him wait.”
Bradley is also of the opinion that the casino is making Ivey wait for his winnings because they do not want him to return. Bradley said that, although casinos love high rollers, they hate high rollers who win in millions. The casino might be unnecessarily withholding payment because it does not want Phil Ivey to return to its premises.