ATLANTIC CITY (CN) – Poker legend Phil Ivey hit back against the Atlantic City casino that sued him for fraud last year with a countersuit in which he claims the casino destroyed the deck he played, making it impossible for him to prove his innocence.
Ivey and Cheng Yin Sun, his companion, are the defendants in an April 2014 lawsuit that claimed they used “edge sorting” to cheat the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa out of $9.6 million during a high-stakes Baccarat game in 2012.
During the Baccarat game, Ivey won more than $2.4 million in the first 16 hours of play, and then returned to the Borgata months later and on nearly $4.8 million within 17 hours.
All told Ivey allegedly cleared nearly $10 million during several Baccarat games, allegedly taking advantage of manufacturing defects in the cards used to sort them to his advantage.
In October 2014, Ivey lost a similar lawsuit in London, where Crockfords Club sued him for more than $12 million in allegedly ill-gotten winnings. That lawsuit alleged a similar edge-sorting scam to that posed by Borgata.
Edge sorting is a technique that entails turning strategically important cards to distinguish them, relying on a manufacturing defect that causes the two long edges of the card backs to look different. In Baccarat, certain numbered cards are considered “good” and others “bad.” The Borgata’s lawsuit contended that during the Baccarat games Sun would allegedly tell the dealer a card was “good” or “bad” in Mandarin, so he would flip the card accordingly, and the card shuffler kept the cards facing the indicative directions. Later in the game Ivey would then be able to discern, most of the time, when a face-down card was “good” or “bad,” Borgata had alleged.
This “first card knowledge” changed the overall odds of the game from a nearly 1.06 percent house advantage to an approximately 6.765 percent advantage for Ivey, the casino says.
Last March, U.S. District Court Judge Noel Hillman ruled against Ivey’s motion to dismiss the suit, in which the casino advances claims of conspiracy, fraud, and violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
In a counterclaim filed July 22, Ivey says “Borgata’s legal obligation was at all times, to maintain, preserve, sequester and disclose the evidence upon which it now prosecutes defendants Ivey and Sun.”
“Plaintiffs knew at all time relevant to this action that the actual playing cards utilized and which it held out to be in strict conformance with the rules and regulations of the game, were critically material evidence to defendants Ivey and Sun,” he says.
Despite this, “plaintiff intentionally destroyed each and every card and deck of cards it produced to defendants Ivey and Sun for that entire five month period preceding defendants’ final play at the Borgata in October of 2012,” he says.
Ivey maintains the destruction of the cards eviscerated his ability to process the lack of any defective card used by him at the Borgata.
This “intentional conduct constitutes fraudulent concealment by way of evidence spoliation, and defendants have and are proximately damaged in the instant action by having to rely upon an evidential record that cannot duplicate or illustrate the action playing cards utilized from April through July of 2012 which were in precise conformance with industry standards and tolerances known and accepted by the plaintiff.”
Ivey and Sun seek compensatory, consequential and punitive damages on claims of fraudulent concealment and negligent spoliation of evidence.
They are represented by Louis Barbone of Jacobs & Barbone P.A. of Atlantic City.
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