Phil Ivey Contests Borgata Claims: We Weren’t Certain to Win

December 5th 2016 | Ivan Potocki

Phil Ivey and his legal team responded to Borgata's damage claims, attacking the notion the duo was practically guaranteed to win using the edge sorting technique.

Phil Ivey and his legal team responded to Borgata’s damage claims, attacking the notion the duo was practically guaranteed to win using the edge sorting technique. (photo: Associated Press)

As it was expected, some days after Borgata filed their request for damages with the New Jersey court, Phil Ivey and his legal team came up with an answer to this request. To remind you, Borgata requested Ivey and his partner to pay $15.5 million in damages.

This number included not only the amount Ivey won playing baccarat at Borgata but also $250,000 he was given in comps as well as the amount the casino believes Ivey would have lost / not win playing other games. While these requests may seem absurd, Borgata is entitled to state their case.

As is Ivey.

We weren’t guaranteed to win

One part of the Borgata’s damages request stipulates that thanks to using the edge sorting technique, Ivey and Sun were fairly certain to win. Edge sorting has certainly provided the high roller with a substantial advantage, but it seems Borgata is pushing the envelope a bit too far.

Ivey’s response particularly addressed this stipulation.

Over all four critical visits to Borgata, Ivey played a total of 1,870 baccarat hands. Of all hands played, Sun and Ivey won 864, lost 822, while 184 hands ended up being a tie. These numbers indicate that Phil Ivey’s winning chances were far from “reasonably certain,” as Borgata conveniently puts it.

Almost $3 million in the hole

In fact, during their third visit to the casino, the duo quickly accumulated losses to the tune of $2.7 million. They managed to turn the things around but a loss of this size indicates that luck still played a huge part in the game.

While Borgata claims that edge sorting gave Ivey and Sun a reasonably certain chance to win, the fact is that the duo was stuck $2.7 million at the start of their session during their third visit

While Borgata claims that edge sorting gave Ivey and Sun a reasonably certain chance to win, the fact is that the duo was stuck $2.7 million at the start of their session during their third visit

Phil Ivey did bend things to his favor requesting decks with imperfections to be used, but the edge the pair gained over the casino wasn’t as big as Borgata would like the court to believe.

One part of the brief stipulates the following:

Defendants can prove that the edge sorting technique provides information for betting purposes only, and does not change the percentage of the winning hands to any extent.

This indicates Ivey’s legal team might be establishing their defense on the fact that Ivey didn’t have information about winning hands. The data he and Sun could collect during the play served them as a guide to adjust their bets and nothing more.

It remains to be seen what the judge will make of this approach.

The Golden Nugget Precedent

A big part of Borgata’s claims is based on an earlier similar case which happened in 2015 at the Golden Nugget. In this instance, the gamblers noticed reoccurring patterns in the cards and were able to take advantage of them to the tune of $1.5 million.

These recognizable patterns were created because cards weren’t pre-shuffled as the state law requires.

In the Golden Nugget case, the gamblers had to give their winnings back. However, Ivey contends this is a very different situation. The cited case had a clear breach of law element, while in the Ivey’s case the judge deemed the law wasn’t broken.

The 2015 Golden Nugget case, which Borgata is trying to use as a precedent, may not be applicable in Ivey's situation

The 2015 Golden Nugget case, which Borgata is trying to use as a precedent, may not be applicable in Ivey’s situation

According to the ruling, Ivey is only guilty of “breach of contract,” which is much different from the Golden Nugget situation.

All in all, the case Borgata’s been using as a precedent to base their claims on might not be overly helpful to their cause. Without clear elements of fraud and breaking state or federal laws, there is very little connecting these two issues, apart from the fact both of them feature large casinos trying to recoup their losses in any way they can.

Ivan Potocki on EmailIvan Potocki on Twitter
Ivan Potocki
Ivan Potocki
Assistant Editor and Columnist at Beat The Fish
Ivan first started playing poker in 2006 and played professionally from 2010-2013. He holds a BA in English language and literature. Since joining the Beat The Fish team in 2016 Ivan has made an immediate impact, leading the news section and contributing numerous feature articles. You can reach Ivan directly at ivanpotocki@gmail.com

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