A gambler branded the “Tiger Woods of poker” has lost a Supreme Court challenge over £7.7 million he claims he won honestly at a London casino.
American Phil Ivey has been fighting to recover the money since successfully playing a version of baccarat known as Punto Banco at Mayfair’s Crockfords Club in 2012.
Owner Genting Casinos UK said Ivey used a technique called “edge-sorting”, claiming it was not a legitimate playing strategy.
However, the 40-year-old maintained he won fairly, the Press Association reported.
On Wednesday, five justices unanimously upheld the majority decision of the Court of Appeal, which dismissed his case on the basis that dishonesty was not a necessary element of “cheating”.
Edge-sorting involves identifying small differences in the pattern on the reverse of playing cards and exploiting that information to increase the chances of winning.
Ivey did not personally touch any cards, but persuaded the croupier to rotate the most valuable cards by intimating that he was superstitious.
In the Court of Appeal, Lady Justice Arden said the Gambling Act 2005 provided that someone may cheat “without dishonesty or intention to deceive: depending on the circumstances it may be enough that he simply interferes with the process of the game”.
There was no doubt, she added, that the actions of Ivey and another gambler, Cheung Yin Sun, interfered with the process by which Crockfords played Punto Banco with Ivey.
That interference was of such a quality as to constitute cheating.
Ivey argued that he did nothing more than exploit Crockfords’ failures to take proper steps to protect itself against a player of his ability.
However, in the Supreme Court Lord Hughes called Ivey’s actions a “carefully planned and executed sting”, the Times reported.
“If he had surreptitiously gained access to the shoe and re-arranged the cards physically himself, no-one would begin to doubt that he was cheating,” he said.
“He accomplished exactly the same result through the unwitting but directed actions of the croupier, tricking her into thinking that what she did was irrelevant.”