In the ongoing saga of poker pro Phil Ivey vs. The Borgata over something called “edge-sorting” (which I wrote about two years ago) a judge has ruled that Ivey and his partner broke the contract between player and venue, and thus must return their winnings:
“The defendants not only shifted the odds to their favor, it is undisputed they won and won big,” Hillman wrote in his December opinion awarding Borgata the $10 million.
It wasn’t fraud, however, because they did not break the rules of baccarat, he determined. Those rules “do not prohibit a player from manipulating the cards.” Nor were they obligated, as the casino claimed, to explain why they wanted the dealer to behave in a certain way.
Instead, the judge ruled Ivey and a partner did break the rules of New Jersey’s Casino Control Act and thus “breached their contract with Borgata.” In December, the judge ordered the pair to return $10.1 million to Borgata, reflecting the baccarat cash as well as $500,000 won using some of the winnings at craps.
“By using cards they caused to be maneuvered in order to identify their value only to them,” the judge wrote, “Ivey and Sun adjusted the odds of Baccarat in their favor. This is in complete contravention of the fundamental purpose of legalized gambling as set forth by [New Jersey’s Casino Control Commission.] Ivey and Sun’s violation . . . constitutes a breach of their mutual obligation with Borgata to play by the rules” of the state’s law.