Borgata: Poker Star Phil Ivey Cheated Us Out of $10 Million Using Edge Sorting

The Atlantic City casino lays out the allegations in a federal lawsuit.

phil-ivey-cheated-borgata-edge-sorting

The Borgata in Atlantic City has filed a federal lawsuit against poker star Phil Ivey, claiming that the professional gambler cheated the casino out of nearly $10 million during high-stakes baccarat play.

Ivey visited the Borgata several times in 2012. According to the suit, his baccarat play started with a maximum bet of $50,000 per hand. Over the course of the year, Ivey won large sums of money ($4.79 million over 17 hours of play in July 2012 alone), and the casino raised his maximum bet to $100,000 per hand.


The lawsuit alleges that Ivey insisted that the casino use purple Gemaco playing cards, and the Borgata now claims that Ivey exploited a defect in those playing cards to his advantage.

Here is what the back of the card should have looked like:

phil-ivey-cheated-borgata-gemaco-card-2

And here is what the defective cards looked like, says the Borgata. (The annotations are found in the suit.)

phil-ivey-cheated-borgata-gemaco-card

To the untrained eye, these cards look the same. But to the poker pro, these differences can be used to influence the odds that you will win a hand. And that's what Ivey allegedly did. According to the suit, Ivey managed to change the odds of the game from a 1.06% house advantage to a 6.765% advantage for himself.

This isn't the first time that Ivey has been accused of edge sorting. In 2013, Ivey sued Britain's oldest casino after the establishment withheld some of his winnings, alleging that he used edge sorting to beat the house. Ivey has publicly admitted using the technique but insists that edge sorting isn't cheating. The Borgata is also suing the playing card manufacturer.

Ivey is largely considered to be the best poker player alive today. He has won nine World Series of Poker bracelets and one World Poker Tour title.

PHOTO: Creative Commons via Wikipedia

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  • birdonawire

    The casino could have used another deck. Seems like the lawsuit should be against the card manufacturer.

    • rurugby

      I am sure a few Chinese businessmen came in and lost more than that playing Baccarat the same weekend.

  • Elmer

    To casinos anything but blindly giving them your money is “cheating”. If they were so slow to realize that an intelligent person could observe something and give themselves a better advantage it is their fault. It would be like me suddenly realizing that slot machine is just taking my money and insisting they give it back.

  • Adam

    The lawsuit is mainly against the card company. They threw in Ivey and other guy for some odd reason.

  • Larry Smith

    He is just a smart player, the Casino should have examined the cards when he requested a certain color. He did not cheat, mark the cards, nothing, just used his eye sight to his advantage. Who do I blame, the Casino for not being smart enough to see the problem. Good for the player.

  • JeffWest

    So the casino raised his limit? And when he didn’t go bust as anticipated, they sued? Sounds to me like his technique was smarter than the casino’s and now they’re trying to welsh on their bet. I didn’t need another excuse to avoid the Borgata, but thanks for giving me one anyway, Borgata.

  • John Andrews

    Their cards, their rules, their table, in their casino.. Sour grapes if you ask me.. Won’t be going to that casino..

  • Vlad G

    to a degree this is almost an equivalent of me filing a suit against the casino, citing that they use automatic machines with an endless shoe, thus minimizing the player’s edge. Ivey didn’t cheat, casino F-ed up by using defective cards (and the manufacturer of those cards should be liable, not Ivey).

  • Death

    Whether or not the allegations constitute cheating is something a judge should decide using the relevant statutes in New Jersey that define cheating. I see a lot of comments here jumping to the conclusion that Ivey did not cheat.

  • hotbeaver69

    well, if the casino had those cards, maybe they were using them to cheat players out of their money, think of that!!!!

  • Age

    As much as the casino’s steal people’s money every day not paying out like they are suppose to they have the nerve to sue CONGRADULATIONS to Ivey we all should be sueing the casino’s for all the money they take from us!!!!!!!

  • hertzed

    TFN!

  • Michael Ma

    Fact, casinos like to advertise how in Blackjack, the odds of winning and losing are about 49/51. That’s only per hand. The game is designed so that the casino almost always take 100% of your money at the end. If not that day, the next time you visit. They understand the human condition and exploit that as well.

    So consider a company like that trying to be righteous about how they got cheated because someone actually won some money and got to keep it.

  • Mark

    Maybe they need solid color cards instead of designs..he played the cards that he was dealt. There was no cheating here.

  • https://twitter.com/PhillyBestBYOB Philly’s Best BYOBs

    It’s clear most of the comments here are from people who don’t know what edge sorting is. It clearly is cheating. It is no different from trying to use your fingernail to mark aces.

    It can’t really be done effectively by one person, and usually involves a team of cheaters playing together at one table.

  • http://www.spycards.net/ Siya sinha

    It is really like a cheating and eye cheat game. it is smart people game, can be possible anything who know play cleverly.

  • DaBag

    This article doesn’t tell the whole story. Ivey was allegedly colluding with at least one other participant – a woman who communicated with the dealer in Mandarin in order to get the cards shuffled and dealt a certain way so as not to alter the perspective of the cards. If that doesn’t happen, the scheme won’t work.

  • HUGO FUGUZEF

    BORGATA NEEDS TO SUE CARD MANUFACTURER

  • Charlie Manson

    i’m suing borgata for their slot machine stealing my $2000!!!!

  • Joe McG

    I know Phil personally and he is a cheater, in my opinion. He spends his days looking for new ways to cheat casinos and people. He has a craps table in his house with a dice loader and practices cheating. He works with the “female friend,” whose name is Kelly, to edge sort and find ways to cheat. He has specially designed computer programs to help him find ways to cheat. That is why I think he is a cheater. If you play against a person and work to see their cards or find flaws in their cards, you are a cheater…

    • jbc

      Wow you are the stupidest person I have ever heard

  • Murrayman

    This article explains exactly nothing about how he did it. Derp.

  • Shiranaiyo

    the casino says phil used edge sorting which is a well known tactic of giving a player an advantage over the house. that being said the casino should have preemptively/adequaley prepared for any player trying to attempt such tactics. the fact that they did not is in no way phil’s fault. good luck at getting that 10 mill back lulz