Pro poker player Phil Ivey sued by Atlantic City casino Borgata

Professional poker standout Phil Ivey has been sued in federal court by the Borgata in Atlantic City, which claimed the $9.6 million he won at the casino in 2012 was earned through cheating at high-stakes mini-baccarat.

The casino, which is 50 percent-owned and managed by Las Vegas-based Boyd Gaming Corp., claims Ivey, one of the world’s best known poker players, manipulated a defect in the playing cards through a special manner of dealing that he requested.

According to the lawsuit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, Ivey was assisted in the scheme by an associate who spoke Mandarin Chinese with the dealer.

Ivey has won nine World Series of Poker individual champion gold bracelets and has earned more than $19 million in tournament poker winnings, according to the PokerPages.com database.

He was accused by the Borgata of “edge sorting,” which violates New Jersey casino gambling regulations.

A spokesman for Boyd Gaming declined comment Friday.

The lawsuit claimed Ivey and the associate were able to exploit the defect in playing cards, which were produced by Gemaco Inc., a Kansas City, Mo.-based manufacturer, through the dealing method.

Ivey, through the associate, asked that the cards be dealt in a special manner because of “superstition.” The dealer was given “special instructions” by Ivey’s associate on “how to turn the cards as they were dealt.”

However, the lawsuit claimed the dealing method enabled Ivey to sort and arrange so-called “good cards” that gave him an unfair advantage in the game.

Ivey wagered between $25,000 and $100,000 a hand during several trips to the Borgata between April and October that year, winning a total of $9.6 million.

Last year, Ivey was accused of cheating by Crockfords, a British casino owned by Malaysia-based Genting Group, during several gambling sessions in 2012. In papers filed in Britain’s High Court, the casino claimed Ivey cheated at Punto Banco, a form of baccarat, and withheld payment of nearly $12 million in winnings.

Ivey sued the casino to collect his winnings, but the case is still pending.

In the Borgata lawsuit, the casino claims the methods of dealing Ivey requested at the Borgata and Crockfords were similar.

Ivey is tied for fourth with the late Johnny Moss for most career World Series of Poker bracelets. He has earned more than $6 million at World Series of Poker events.

Ivey, who was connected to the Full Tilt Poker website, stayed away from the World Series of Poker in 2011 following the “Black Friday” federal crackdown on Internet poker. He returned to the tournament in 2012, reaching five final tables in individual events.

He now operates a website, IveyPoker.com, that offers various poker products and training opportunities from professional poker players.

Contact reporter Howard Stutz at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. Follow @howardstutz on Twitter.

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