It was the card game worthy of a scene in a James Bond film as Phil Ivey took Crockfords Casino in London's Mayfair for $12 Million (7.7 Million GBP) and then got refused his payout and accused of cheating. Poker legend Ivey was accused of edge sorting, which involves reading the design on the back of playing cards and due to certain errors in that design being able to tell, to a certain degree, what that card is. Ivey claims that that this is not at all cheating, rather merely taking advantage of the casinos lack of security and it has to be said stupidity, however a London judge has ruled otherwise, stating that Ivey was guilty of cheating and that the casino does not have to pay up.

Ivey, while playing Punto Banco over 4 sessions in August 2012 went on a staggering winning streak, however it was a streak that led to the biggest legal dispute in UK casino history. Crockfords made the mistake of indulging in Ivey’s every whim, which included a private room in which to play, an Asian dealer that spoke Mandarin and allowed Ivey to use very specific playing cards, cards that it is claimed Ivey and his friend knew were faulty. The geometric pattern on the reverse of the cards was not as it should be and although the tiny difference is almost impossible to see, Ivey knew it was there, found it, and used it to his advantage.

His female companion, Cheung Yin Sun is known as a card spotter, someone who can see these tiny differences in the patterns however there was a little more required in order to beat the house. Ivey and Yin Sun requested that the dealer keep swapping the decks of cards, until the deck with the faulty edges was found, and then, claimed that this was the lucky deck and the one they wished to use. They also requested that the cards be shuffled by a machine, rather than by the dealer, knowing that the machine would spin the cards 180 degrees, allowing them to see the errors in the cards easier.

The general consensus in the poker world was that Ivey was not cheating, merely taking advantage of bad casino management, something that in essence, it’s part of a serious gamblers job to do. The judge however thought otherwise and decided in favor of the Genting Group, the Crockford’s Casino owners.