Phil Ivey is considered by many in the industry to be one of the greatest poker players in this generation. His record is enviable as the New Jersey poker pro has accumulated close to $24 million in career prize money and is rated 4th on the U.S all time money list according to the Hendon Mob. Add to this, the fact that he has won 10 World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets, made the final table at 9 World Poker Tour (WPT) finals and won 1 WPT championship – cementing his place as one of the best poker players to have played the game.
Ivey hasn’t had a consistent winning streak during the last couple of years but when he has won in 2014 and 2015, he has won big money. Ivey won the A$ 250,000 No Limit Hold’em – $250,000 Challenge in February 2014 and took home A$4 million and in Feb 2015 he won the A$ 245,000 + 5,000 #21 The LK Boutique Challenge and took home over A$ 2.2. million. While Ivey has not had a consistent winning streak during the last couple of years, his name has constantly appeared in poker related news and poker forums due to his battle with London’s Crockford Casino and Atlantic City’s Borgata Casino.
The Borgata casino’s case against Phil Ivey has definitely received a lot more publicity as the casino accused Ivey and his partner of resorting to an illegal technique known as ‘edge sorting’ to win nearly $10 million from the casino. The casino took Ivey to court as it wanted him to repay the amount claiming that he had cheated the casino. The case that did not receive as much publicity was Crockford’s case against Ivey and his playing partner – which was in many ways similar to the Borgata case.
The Crockford casino accused Ivey of resorting to ‘edge sorting’ or card counting during his visits in 2012 when he played a game of punto banco, which is a variant baccarat. Ivey played at the casino on multiple occasions and won up to £7.8 million but the UK casino which is owned by the Genting Group in Malaysia refused to transfer the funds to Ivey as they found out that he was using edge sorting and hence declined to payout, unlike the Borgata which remitted the funds to Ivey’s bank account in Mexico.
Ivey wasn’t very happy to find his funds being withheld by the Crockford casino and decided to file an appeal during 2013 in London’s High Court and the case made the headlines as Ivey is one of the most popular poker players on the circuit. Ivey was adamant that he did not cheat at the Borgata or at the Crockford casino but admitted to using edge sorting, which he deems as a high level skill that very few players can master. Phil Ivey also stated that he would not do anything to jeopardize the reputation that he had built for himself in the poker industry over the years and vowed to take the legal route to clear his name.
However in October 2014, the London High Court ruled against Ivey and stated that the Crockford casino was right in withholding Ivey’s earnings. Ivey decided to appeal the High Court’s decision and received permission in Jan 2015 to proceed with his appeal. The Court of Appeal in London heard Ivey’s case in April 2016 and took a few months to reach a decision. The court finally made a decision in November 2016 and once again ruled in favor of the Crockford casino and held up the High Court’s decision, much to Ivey’s disappointment.
Ivey who is being represented by Max Mallin QC and Richard Spearman QC of Thirty Nine Essex Chambers along with Matthew Dowd and Wilberforce Chambers of Archerfield Partners LLP did not give up but continued to fight, filing yet another appeal. That appeal has finally been accepted by the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the United Kingdom has agreed to review the decision made by the Court of Appeal.
Ivey welcomed the decision of the UK Supreme Court and stated that he was happy he could continue to fight for what he believed was right and awaited the day when the Supreme Court would reverse the decision against him.