|Dispute over Punto Banco winnings hits the high court with suit and
Court papers filed in
Britain's High Court by the Malaysia-based Genting Group say that Ivey and an
accomplice successfully used a scam to rack up winnings of roughly £7.3
million ($11.9 million) last summer.
The case has rocked the world of
professional poker and professional gambling by pitting one of its most
charismatic young stars against a major resort and casino operator. The game in
question took place on Aug. 20-21 at Crockfords, London, the oldest casino name
in the world. (Some history on
This long-simmering dispute was first made public in
April when Ivey filed a claim against the Genting Group in London's High Court.
His lawyers said the casino refused to pay Ivey the money he had won playing
Punto Banco at
Crockfords, which is part of the Genting Group.
The casino responded in
court on 14th May by accusing Ivey of cheating, saying his winnings were
invalid because they were "based upon illegal acts." The next day Ivey issued a
statement through his lawyers denying any misconduct.
Ivey said, "The
fact that I have issued a lawsuit in the face of what they are alleging says
everything about how comfortable I am with my conduct and the validity of my
win," he said. "Any allegations of wrongdoing by Crockfords are denied by me in
the very strongest of terms."
The casino group said in the court papers
that Ivey's "illegal acts" void his claimed winnings. It said he was able to
have a "significant advantage" over the casino by using improper means to
determine whether the first card being dealt in the baccarat hands would be a
powerful or weak card, allowing him to place his bets accordingly.
court papers say Punto Banco Baccarat is played with six or eight decks of
cards placed in what is called a dealing "shoe." The goal in each hand, which
consists of two or three cards, is to get closest to nine the best first
cards are a 7, 8 or 9 since a 10 or a picture card counts as zero.
Players can bet that they will win, that the bank will win, or that the
hand will be a tie.
to play Punto Banco)
The court papers say that Ivey and his
accomplice, after some trial and error, found a "shoe" that contained decks of
cards with an asymmetrical design. They were then able to convince the dealer,
after cards were revealed, to turn the card either sideways or end over end.
The staff was not suspicious because the accomplice, who spoke Cantonese with
the dealers, acted like she was superstitious and just changing the way the
cards lay for good luck, court papers say.
The effect was that the
dealer inadvertently sorted the cards so that 7, 8 and 9 cards were
distinguishable from others. Ivey sustained his success, the court papers
claimed, by asking that the cards be shuffled automatically by a machine, which
meant the way the cards were arranged was not altered as the game progressed.
The court papers also claim that Ivey specifically asked for an Asian
dealer so his accomplice could communicate with that dealer in a language not
known by the rest of the casino staff.
We await the clash of these two
eagerly and will hopefully get a landmark ruling on whether the casino will be
forced to pay up!
For those new to the game of Punto Banco it is
basically a casino version of Baccarat where all the choices that players have
are removed and made automatic by rule. From this the expected advantage by
knowing just one of the cards, for instance the first one, can be
So if you know the first card to be dealt is a 9 then the
advantage for the Player Bet is 22%, an 8 it is 17% and for a 7 it is 7%. If
the case the casino is putting forward is true then Phil Ivey and his friend
would have a large advantage over the house even if they could read only a few
cards in the shoe.
A little remembered 1966 movie
Kaleidoscope starring Warren
Beatty and Susannah York is all about Barney Lincoln (Warren Beatty) who breaks
into a card manufacturer and alters the design on the backs of cards so that he
can read their values during play.
In the movie Beatty goes
on to win big against casino after casino until a police Inspector works out
how he does it and then hires him to take on a criminal mastermind who likes to
|Kaleidoscope showing Warren Beatty altering the card
The story unfolds that the police can't nail the criminal
so Beatty's job is to bankrupt him in a high stakes poker game. I'll leave you
to watch this great little gem of a movie and find out what
|Kaleidoscope showing Warren Beatty being given the shoe to deal