The good news is that U.S. District Court Judge Noel Hillman ruled Ivey didn’t commit fraud to win in baccarat. The bad news is that the judge believes Ivey violated gambling regulations in New Jersey.
The latter won’t carry any criminal charges in the poker pro’s case. However, it will definitely have an effect on whether he gets to keep the $9.6 million he won.
Judge Hillman wrote that he believes Ivey and his companion, Cheng Yin Sun, overstepped normal advantage play by asking the dealer to arrange baccarat cards in a special way. This allowed them to better see the card backs and tell what the values were before they were dealt (a.k.a. edge sorting).
This falls in line with what the Borgata claimed in their lawsuit, writing that edge sorting violates state gambling regulations. The casino points out that Ivey knew the requested Gemaco deck was defective and that he’d gain an advantage by spotting the flawed card backs.
Ivey has argued all along that he merely beat the casino at their own game, and the Borgata complied with every request that he made.
Judge Hillman alluded to this by writing, “[Ivey and Sun] view their actions to be akin to cunning, but not rule-breaking, maneuvers performed in many games, such as a play-action pass in American football, or the ‘Marshall swindle’ in chess.”
Hillman thinks that “Sun’s mental acumen” in spotting the card pattern flaws was “remarkable.”
But according to ABC News, the judge still doesn’t side with them in this case.
“But even though Ivey and Sun’s cunning and skill did not break the rules of Baccarat,” wrote Hillman, “what sets Ivey and Sun’s actions apart from deceitful maneuvers in other games is that those maneuvers broke the rules of gambling as defined in this state.”
The Borgata has less than three weeks to list all the damages that have been done to them as a result of this case.
As for Ivey, this legal matter isn’t over yet. But it still feels like he might be headed for another loss, just like his Crockfords case.