After hearing the testimonials and contemplating the evidence from both parties in this rather complicated situation, a judge in the U.S. District Court has given out a split decision on the case involving the Borgata in Atlantic City and professional poker player Phil Ivey. The split decision has rendered any final financial decisions suspended in the air as to which of the two will emerge victorious.
On October 21, U.S. District Court Judge Noel Hillman gave out a 30-page decision concerning the dispute between the Borgata and Phil Ivey. The ruling, which was quite a complex one, left both sides with a loss and both sides with a win.
Let's go back as to how it all started - It's been over four years ago (2012), when Phil Ivey and a companion named Cheng Yin Sun walked into the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City to play high-stakes baccarat. In return for his gesture of wiring a huge amount of money to the casino, the Borgata management agreed to five terms, including the use of a dealer who speaks Mandarin Chinese and the use of purple Gemaco playing cards.
After a few times playing at the Borgata over a period of a few months, Ivey and Sun won around $10 million from the casino. Around this time, Borgata discovered that a casino in the United Kingdom named Crockfords was currently withholding around $10 million from Ivey for allegations of "edge sorting". The Borgata then believed that Ivey had pulled off the same scheme against them and sued him for their money back.
How does edge sorting work? With edge sorting, a player shall try to gain advantage of the casino by effectively determining which card is which because of its improperly cut edges. Due to the deck of cards being improperly cut, the design on the back will look asymmetrical. Ivey, together with his companion, asked the Mandarin Chinese-speaking dealer for specific cards to be turned a certain way, which allowed them to figure out if a card that was face-down was within a specific range. With this method, Ivey and Sun gained an advantage over the casino, and racked up their winnings of over $10 million.
Both the Crockfords and Borgata casinos have argued that "edge sorting" is not a legitimate poker technique, and so what Ivey did was deemed as cheating, and his winnings should be forfeited. On the other hand, Ivey had argued that "edge sorting" is totally legal, and that the casino and the card makers must be held responsible for their own ineptitude, and that it's the job of a professional gambler to use everything they can to their advantage when it comes to gambling.
Stated in Judge Hillman's ruling were:
1. Phil Ivey and companion Cheng Yin Sun had not committed fraud
2. Ivey and Sun had breached their contract after failure to comply with the New Jersey Casino Control Act
In summary, this dispute is going back to court. According to Judge Hillman, it is the court which "must decide whether Borgata's contract-based claims premised on CCA violations are viable, and if so, whether Borgata or Ivey and Sun are entitled to judgment on those claims."
So for the time being, this case between Ivey and the Borgata casino shall continue to be battled out. The split decision is probably the judge's way for forcing the two parties to try settling out the dispute on their own. There's a possibility of a resolution being made between the two parties by the end of this year.