Published Monday, July 27, 2015 | 9:48 a.m.
Updated Monday, July 27, 2015 | 10:32 a.m.
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — A professional poker player has sued a casino that claimed he won $9.6 million by cheating at baccarat, alleging it knew about defects in the cards and then destroyed evidence.
Phil Ivey and his co-defendant, Cheng Yin Sun, filed a countersuit last week against the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, which sued the pair last year. The Borgata suit said Ivey and Sun took advantage of a defect in cards made by Gemaco that enabled them to sort and arrange good cards in baccarat.
Ivey says Gemaco was responsible for producing cards within contractual and industry standards and should be held responsible for any damages. He also says the Borgata knew the card manufacturing process didn't produce perfectly symmetrical card backs.
Ivey says in the suit that the Borgata intentionally destroyed the cards at issue "eviscerating the defendants' ability to prove the lack of any defective cards."
They demand unspecified compensatory and punitive damages against the Atlantic City casino.
The casino claims the technique called edge sorting that was used by Ivey and Sun violates New Jersey casino gambling regulations. The lawsuit claims the cards were defective in that the pattern on the back of them was not uniform. The cards have rows of small white circles designed to look like the tops of cut diamonds, but the Borgata claims some of them were only a half diamond or a quarter of one.
Ivey lost a similar lawsuit last year in Britain's High Court by the Malaysia-based Genting Group, a major casino operator. The court agreed that the casino didn't have to pay Ivey $12.4 million he had won through edge sorting. He denied any misconduct and said in a statement after the ruling that he believes his strategy to exploit the casino's "failures to take proper steps to protect themselsves against a player of my ability" was a "legitimate strategy."
The Borgata lawsuit claims that Ivey and his companion instructed a dealer to flip cards in particular ways, depending on whether it was a desirable card in baccarat. The numbers six, seven, eight and nine are considered good cards. Bad cards would be flipped in different directions, so that after several hands of cards, the good ones were arranged in a certain manner — with the irregular side of the card facing in a specific direction — that Ivey could spot when they came out of the dealer chute.
Ivey has won nine World Series of Poker bracelets. He compares himself on his website to Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Muhammad Ali.