The maker of the cards Phil Ivey used to help win $10 million in a series of baccarat sessions in 2012 at Borgata in Atlantic City is only liable for $27, the value of the cards used, a federal court judge said.
US District Court Judge Noel Hillman lowered the casino’s potential to recover the $10 million it lost when Ivey used edge-sorting tactics to gain an advantage over the house by ruling in favor of the card manufacturer.
Ivey, a once prominent tournament grinder who now plays mostly high-stakes cash games in Macau, convinced the Borgata to use Gemaco brand cards at his baccarat table six years ago because, unbeknownst to the casino, he and companion Cheng Yin Sun were able to spot a flaw in the cards’ back-side patterns.
During the infamous baccarat sessions, he and Sun used that advantage to arrange the good cards properly, giving them a significant edge against the casino.
MGM Wants Its $10.1 Million
The issue in this case is that Ivey gained an unfair advantage over the house, the casino argued in court. But the other side of the coin is the casino agreed to Ivey’s terms prior to spreading the game. The use of those cards was approved by a Borgata manager, and at no point did Ivey or Sun touch the cards.
Despite the agreed upon conditions, a judge previously ruled in favor of the casino and ordered Ivey to pay back the $10.1 million he won in 2012. That 2016 judgment hasn’t been dropped and, technically and legally, Ivey and his companion still owe the casino the money.
But Borgata owner MGM Resorts is also aware of the difficulty of recuperating such a large sum of money from a poker player who may or may not even have access to that amount of cash. And even if he does, the odds aren’t great on him ever paying it back, even with a court order.
Court Says Gemaco Not to Blame
Knowing that Ivey isn’t just going to fork over the cash and has plans to continue appealing the court’s decision, a process that could take years, Borgata sought other ways to recover the lost money.
The casino decided to go after Gemaco, a Kansas-City based company, but judge Hillman ruled the card manufacturer is only liable for the value of the cards used, approximately $27, or 0.0000026 percent of $10.1 million.
Gemaco didn’t force the casino to use the cards nor did the company advise Ivey to convince the Borgata to use that specific deck. Therefore, the judge refused to put the blame, and financial responsibility, on the card maker.
That leaves the Borgata in a difficult situation. The Atlantic City casino isn’t likely to just write off a $10 million loss. But the odds of ever recuperating all, or even a large portion, of that money are about as likely as beating Phil Ivey in a game he has rigged in his favor.