Latest Cheat: Phil Ivey (of poker fame)

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Rob Lister
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Latest Cheat: Phil Ivey (of poker fame)

Post by Rob Lister »

One can make an argument that this is not cheating. It is akin to marking the cards but really the player is taking advantage of the way the cards are already marked. One can rationalize anything.
A distinction without a difference in my view. If I were using this tactic while playing around the kitchen table with my poker buddies, I'd think myself a cheat. Why not also when I'm playing in a casino? Is it okay to cheat them and not my friends?
A lawsuit from a casino accuses one of the world's highest-profile poker players of being a cheat—at least when it comes to baccarat. The Borgata casino of Atlantic City has sued Phil Ivey, claiming he won a total of $9.6 million through a scheme that violates New Jersey casino rules, reports the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Specifically, the lawsuit accuses Ivey of "edge sorting." It's complicated, but the suit says Ivey exploited a design flaw on the backs of the cards that helped him sort and arrange desirable cards, reports the Star-Ledger.

For those of you that don't know what Edge Sorting is, here's a tutorial.

For the lazy, take a look at the back of that deck of cards you keep in your desk drawer. Is the design perfectly symmetrical left/right top/bottom? Bet [if] it's not.

So they paid him and now they want their money back. I don't know the law, but if it were illegal, they'd have pressed charges rather than file a suit. Or both maybe.
But for the scheme to work, the cards needed to be flipped by the dealer in particular ways, explains AP. Ivey allegedly accomplished this with the help of a Mandarin-speaking assistant, who convinced the dealer to do so out of "superstition." The casino finally put an end to Ivey's gambling after four sessions. Maybe it got wind of the legal fight he is currently in with British casino Crockfords: Ivey is accused of winning $12 million in essentially the same fashion at another form of baccarat called Punto Banco, notes the Review-Journal.
This isn't a new cheat. For a casino, the fix is dirt simple.

Fix 1: use symmetrical decks.
Fix 2: include a turn in the shuffle.

Likely a cheat will select a casino that 1) uses asymmetrical decks and 2) doesn't include a turn with the shuffle.

More to the point, a casino may not strictly control the way each dealer shuffles; some dealers will include a turn and some won't. This will eliminate the fast number of [competent] casinos but what's left is probably plenty; you only need one. I don't go to casino's so I don't know how that works.

Did Phil use this advantage while playing the poker tournaments? It wouldn't work for in any tourney I've watched because of the shuffling method but I've only watched a limited number.

A note about my opening remarks. I don't consider card counting a cheat. The casino is betting you don't know the odds. Or understand what odds are. It is perfectly fair to beat those odds.
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Re: Latest Cheat: Phil Ivey (of poker fame)

Post by fromthehills »

"Were you 'edge sorting' ?


Case dismissed.

How can they prove such a thing?
Doctor X
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Re: Latest Cheat: Phil Ivey (of poker fame)

Post by Doctor X »

Statistics can suggest it, but more likely Phil is enough of a loud-mouth to have bragged about it.

IF he bragged about it, then lawyers will have a fucking $$$ filled field-day demonstrating that all Phil did was play the game. As the linked article puts it, he did not "mark" the deck. He did not alter the cards in any way.

Card counting is not "illegal" but a casino is a private business that "has the right to refuse service" and will. That does not mean they can refuse to give you the money you already won. This gets a bit more squiffy if you use additional aids to keep count, use other people, et cetera.

However, the casino could try to argue that by turning certain cards Phil was marking the deck. Good luck, but why not argue that? See what the courts say. This is why the lawyers will win. Phil? His 9 million will pay for the lawyers. Casinos? They want some precedent to stop this practice or at least defend kicking your ass out as non-discriminatory. I suppose if they can get it recognized as "bona fide" cheating then they have a gain in they can not only kick your ass out they can refuse to honor your chips, have the local sheriff pick your ass up to dump you in a cornfield to take you to prison. This is quite the disincentive to the Great Unwashed from trying the same thing.

See, card counting is hard. Many try it and fuck it up. Advantage: House. Casinos do not like competent card counters. Incompetent card counters is like a person who learned poker from watching ESPN--a lamb to a slaughter. The odds are such as they are in blackjack, for example, casinos sell and let you bring the graphed odds of each hand based on what you have and what the dealer is showing. House still has an advantage, and for the few who make some on a good run and walk away far too many stay and lose.

This is simple . . . assuming you can actually see the card. That is a problem. However, as the article notes, the solution is simple. So simple lawyers should cry.

Indeed, in general casinos have "defeated" card counting for blackjack by simply increasing the number of decks in a shoe. They also altered the payouts on and actual black jack. Little alterations all in favor of the House.

IF he DID NOT brag about it: if the casino only has "statistics" the lawyers win again. More likely the casino has the video that shows Phil turning a card before he sends it back to the dealer. Phil's lawyers will, of course, argue that there is not only nothing illegal about that there is nothing against the stated rules. If the casino "don't wike it" then they should prevent it. Back to Blackjack, in a two deck game you are usually not allowed to have both hands on the table touching the cards. Most are polite about that, but do not push it. Too few cards someone might actually gain an advantage with cheating.

It is a rule.

There is currently no "rule" against turning.

Which all means what people?

The lawyers win. However it plays out, the lawyers get their cut.

Rob Lister
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Re: Latest Cheat: Phil Ivey (of poker fame)

Post by Rob Lister »

fromthehills wrote:"Were you 'edge sorting' ?


Case dismissed.

How can they prove such a thing?
Case not dismissed, back in the news.
Top poker player Phil Ivey has lost his high court case against the owners of Crockfords Club in London over his £7.7m ($12.5m) winnings.

The 38-year-old American sued over a version of baccarat known as Punto Banco that he played at the Mayfair casino over two days in August 2012. After four sessions, Ivey was told the money would be wired to him and he left for the US, but it never arrived, although his £1m stake was returned. ... n-winnings

But to be fair, in his case

Court: where you edge sorting?
Ivey: Yep. And proudly so.

Phil used this argument:
An upset Ivey insists he's no cheater and that he won fair and square. "We observe the unwritten doctrine: How do I find a legal way to beat the house?" he says. "Any method that could amount to cheating would breach the doctrine and cause you to be ostracized by your fellow players—we are all very careful to stay [on] the right side of the line, and we discuss advantage play strategies at length."
In his view, it is not cheating. Rather than argue for or against, I'll just reit:
Ethical Lister wrote: If I were using this tactic while playing around the kitchen table with my poker buddies, I'd think myself a cheat.
If Phil did this at my kitchen table, he certainly would be ostracized. And asked to leave. With empty pockets. In the rain.
Captain Renault
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Re: Latest Cheat: Phil Ivey (of poker fame)

Post by Captain Renault »

I'm shocked!
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Re: Latest Cheat: Phil Ivey (of poker fame)

Post by gnome »

The casino is certainly trying to exploit every legal advantage, so the moral high ground not something they can hide behind. Unless a law or express agreement says otherwise, I would think the risk of unintentionally cluing in a clever player belongs to the casino. Catch someone exploiting it, sure throw them out and invite them never to return, but I don't see justification for denying winnings.

Like that guy on "press your luck"... did he get to keep his money?