Supreme Court ruling against Phil Ivey “one of the most significant” in a generation

Supreme Court ruling against Phil Ivey “one of the most significant” in a generation

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 Posted by Michael Lawson
The gambling professional's tactics at a Mayfair casino in 2012 were ruled as cheating for a third time

Professional poker player Phil Ivey has lost his bid to reclaim winnings of £7.7 million from Genting Casinos, in a ruling one top lawyer described as “one of the most significant decisions in criminal law in a generation”.

Playing at the Genting-owned Crockford’s Club back in 2012, Ivey struck gold playing punto banco baccarat and deploying a technique known as ‘edge sorting’ - identifying minor differences in the pattern on the back of the cards to increase his chances of winning.

He then convinced the croupier to rotate the most valuable cards by claiming he was superstitious.

The Mayfair casino picked up on Ivey’s tactics and refused to pay out, instead reimbursing his £1 million stake, and today Supreme Court judges upheld this decision.

Delivering the ruling, Lord Hughes said: “The court agrees it was cheating. The key point is Mr Ivey did not just watch the cards with a trained eye but rather he took active steps to fix the shoe.”

This is the third successive ruling against Ivey, after he lost his initial challenge at the High Court in 2014 and the resulting 2016 appeal.

However he remained defiant, saying in a statement: “It makes no sense that the UK Supreme Court has ruled against me, in my view, contrary to the facts and any possible logic involved in our industry.

“At the time I played at Crockford’s, I believed that edge-sorting was a legitimate Advantage Play technique and I believe that more passionately than ever today.

“As Mr Justice Mitting found, this is not just my personal view but one that “commands considerable support from others” and I am grateful to the Supreme Court for confirming Mr Justice Mitting’s finding that I was a truthful witness in this respect and that this was my honest belief.

"As a professional gambler, my integrity is everything to me. It is because of my sense of honour and respect for the manner in which gambling is undertaken by professional gamblers such as myself that I have pursued this claim for my unpaid winnings all the way to the Supreme Court.

“It is very frustrating that the UK judges have no experience or understanding of casinos and Advantage Play, or the ongoing battle between casinos and professional gamblers attempting to level the playing field.  

“If they had, I am very confident the result in this case would have been in my favour.”

Paul Willcock, President and Chief Operating Officer of Genting UK, stated: “We are delighted that the High Court, the Court of Appeal and now the Supreme Court have all found in Genting’s favour, confirming that we acted fairly and properly at all times and that Mr Ivey’s conduct did indeed amount to cheating.

"This entirely vindicates Genting’s decision not to pay Mr Ivey, a decision that was not taken lightly.”

Commenting on the decision, Stephen Parkinson, Head of Criminal Litigation at Kingsley Napley LLP, said: “The concept of dishonesty is central to a whole range of offences, including fraud.  

“For 35 years juries have been told that defendants will only be guilty if the conduct complained of was dishonest by the standards of ordinary reasonable and honest people and also that they must have realised that ordinary honest people would regard their behaviour as dishonest.

“The Supreme Court has now said that this second limb of the test does not represent the law and that directions based upon it ought no longer to be given by the courts.”

Totally Gaming says: The significance of today’s ruling cannot be downplayed. While the Supreme Court judges acknowledged that Phil Ivey did not willingly cheat, the result sent a strong message that edge sorting - or any other form advantage play gambling - will not be tolerated in British casinos. This will come as a disappointment to many professional gamblers who, like Ivey, view edge sorting simply as a card game strategy. Perhaps it’s time to deploy specialist judging panels for such a specialist subject matter.

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