Poker pro Phil Ivey has lost his appeal in the UK Supreme Court over a £7.7 million baccarat case. Ivey challenged a 2014 high court ruling to overturn a decision that he “cheated” to beat London’s Crockfords casino.
This case began in October 2012, when Ivey won £7.7 million through an advantage-play technique called edge sorting. This involves spotting imperfections on card-backs to predict card values. Crockfords returned Ivey’s £1 million stake, but refused to give him anything else.
The famed gambler enlisted the help of Cheung Yin Sun, an edge-sorting expert who helped him beat Crockfords.
All five UK Supreme Court justices ruled that Ivey and Sun went beyond normal advantage play to win the fortune.
In the original appeal last year, Lady Justice Arden explained how the Gambling Act 2005 states that cheating violates the implied contract between players and casinos. Here’s her statement:
“In my judgment, this section provides that a party may cheat within the meaning of this section without dishonesty or intention to deceive: depending on the circumstances it may be enough that he simply interferes with the process of the game. On that basis, the fact that the appellant did not regard himself as cheating is not determinative.
“In particular the actions which Mr Ivey took or caused to be taken had a substantial effect on the odds in the game and Crockfords were not aware of this at the relevant time. In these circumstances, no lower standard applied in this case because Mr Ivey was an advantage player who was in an adversarial position with the casino.”
Ivey is no doubt perplexed by the court’s final decision.
“The trial judge said that I was not dishonest and the three appeal judges agreed, but somehow the decision has gone against me. Can someone tell me how you can have honest cheating?” he told The Guardian.
This is now the third legal proceeding that Ivey has gone through with his Crockfords edge sorting case. And none of the courts have seen it his way. That said, his chances of recovering the £7.7 million in winnings are likely gone.