Despite his appeal, Phil Ivey will not be receiving his £7.7 million in winnings from poker tournament
He fought as hard as he could by taking his battle to the court system, but it has been determined on appeal that the champion poker player will not be receiving his £7.7 million in winnings. This decision resulted from Phil Ivey’s open “edge sorting” technique that he used to gain an unfair, yet not dishonest, advantage over other players in the poker game.
Ivey has been open about the technique that he has been using to increase his success at poker. In essence, his edge sorting technique involved identifying irregularities on the backs of cards in order to be able to determine what cards other players had and what cards were face down. One example might be that the side on a card might have a slim margin while the other side might be wider, and this pattern on that specific card value would be remembered by the player in order to identify which hidden card was which.
Due to imperfect card production machines, it is quite common for some cards in a deck to have an irregular cut that could be used for a tactical advantage if the identity of those cards was learned. During a game, a player might ask the dealer to rotate some of the cards because it is going to bring them luck. The strategy here is that the low cards are being turned a certain direction and the higher cards are being faced the other direction so that the irregularity and be easier identified by the cheating player.
Beyond that, the player may also ask the dealer to use an automatic shuffler instead of hand shuffling, which most casinos are all too happy to do because it reduces the ability to cheat. The advantage for the player here is that the cards will remain facing the direction that they want them to be facing, something that won’t necessarily remain consistent if manually shuffled.
Despite this cheating technique that he has openly stated he has used while playing poker, Ivey argues that he played honestly during the tournament in which he should have won the £7.7 million prize. The court has ruled that even though he wasn’t dishonest about his tactics, and there is a chance that he didn’t actually use the cheating method during the tournament, it is still considered cheating. In the contract for all players there was a clause that implied that cheating would result in an automatic loss, and that the meaning of cheating was determined in the Gambling Act of 2005.
This legal casino battle has likely created some valuable case law for casinos. It is now certain that cheating doesn’t have to involve intent or dishonesty, which means that if casinos suspect that a player is using a tactic that gives them an unfair advantage they can consider it cheating and refuse to pay up. Beyond that, even if a player doesn’t consider their tactic to be cheating, it can still be considered as such. This follows through with the no need for intent.