Phil Ivey Accused of Cheating Casino; Poker Star Denied Winnings

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A major casino operator is accusing Phil Ivey, one of the world's top poker players and gamblers in general, of cheating at baccarat in the UK last summer.

As a result, they're refusing to pay him $12 million in winnings.

Phil Ivey Photo

The Phil Ivey cheating scandal case has rocked the gaming world by pitting one of its most charismatic young stars against a major resort and casino operator.

The game in question took place on August 20-21 at Crockfords, one of London's oldest, most respected casinos, and has escalated this week.

The long-simmering dispute has now gone fully public as Phil Ivey filed a legal claim against the Genting Group in London's High Court.

His lawyers said the casino refused to pay Ivey the $11.9 million he won playing baccarat at Crockfords, which is part of the Genting Group.

The casino responded in court Tuesday by accusing Ivey of cheating, saying his winnings were invalid because they were "based upon illegal acts."

On Wednesday, Ivey issued a statement denying any misconduct.

"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.

The 37-year-old "Tiger Woods of Poker" added, "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."

The group claims Ivey knew whether cards being dealt in the baccarat hands would be a powerful or weak card, allowing him to place his bets accordingly.

It's a somewhat confusing game, but 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, the bank will win, or the hand will be a tie.

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 with the dealers, acted like she was superstitious and just changing the way the cards lay for good luck.

The effect in Ivey's favor, allegedly was that the dealer inadvertently sorted the cards so that 7, 8 and 9 cards were distinguishable from others.

Ivey then sustained his success, the casino says, by asking that the cards be shuffled automatically by a machine, which meant their arrangement was not altered as the game progressed.

You buying it? We'll see if the courts are.

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