Phil Ivey and the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City are locked in a battle over $9.6 million in baccarat winnings, one that is far more dramatic than the high-stakes table game itself.
We still don’t know how a court will ultimately rule on the Borgata’s lawsuit that seeks to recover those controversial winnings, but Ivey isn’t waiting to find out, choosing to launch an attack of his own instead.
Attorneys representing Ivey and Cheng Yin Sun filed a countersuit against the Borgata this week, claiming that the defendants did nothing wrong in the case and that the Borgata had destroyed evidence that was critical to their defense.
“Borgata had a duty of care at all times relevant hereto due and owing to the defendants, to maintain, sequester, and preserve the precise playing cards utilized by the plaintiff in each of the casino games patronized by the defendants from April through July of 2012,” defense lawyers wrote in the countersuit. “Plaintiff Borgata knew that those playing cards were critically material to Ivey and Sun’s defense, and knew further that destruction of those playing cards would render the defendants irrevocably prejudice in defending against plaintiff’s claims and in securing judgment against the plaintiff.”
Ivey Fighting Two Casinos Over Baccarat Winnings
The Borgata lawsuit is one of two legal battles between Ivey and casinos over his use of a technique known as edge sorting in high stakes baccarat games.
Ivey and Sun were able to get the casinos to agree to use playing cards with defects in how they were cut, allowing knowledgeable players to distinguish which was a card was turned due to their asymmetric design.
They then had dealers turn high cards 180 degrees (ostensibly for superstitious reasons), allowing them to know if cards were high or low even when they were face down.
That was enough to give the players a significant edge over the house. Ivey proceeded to win £7.7 million ($11.9 million) from the Crockfords casino in London and another $9.6 million from the Borgata.
Appeal Pending in Crockfords Case
Crockfords never paid out Ivey’s winnings, however, causing him to sue the casino in an attempt to recover the funds. Ivey lost that case, but an appeal has been granted and is expected to be heard in December.
“I believe that what we did was a legitimate strategy,” Ivey said in a statement after the ruling. “We did nothing more than exploit Crockfords’ failure to take proper steps to protect themselves against a player of my ability…clearly today, the judge did not agree.”
After hearing about the Crockfords case, the Borgata realized that Ivey had used the same technique to beat them. However, the situation was different: they had already paid out the winnings to Ivey.
That meant that the Borgata was forced to sue Ivey in an effort to recover his winnings. Ivey attempted to have the lawsuit dismissed in March, but a judge denied that request.
The new countersuit once again asks for a dismissal of the case.
However, it also seeks damages from the Borgata, and asks the casino to pay for legal fees and court costs under a New Jersey law that punishes frivolous lawsuits.