$12 million casino dispute, What's the best way to win a game of chance? Turn it into a game of certainty.
That, a British casino is charging, is exactly what world-renowned
poker player Phil Ivey did in winning £7.6 million — about $11.9 million
— in one spectacular run of punto banco, a baccarat game. Crockfords is
charging that Ivey observed tiny flaws in the game's cards,
and used that knowledge to give the house a severe thrashing. As a
result, the casino is refusing to pay, and Ivey has filed suit to
receive his withheld winnings.
Basically speaking, the idea in punto banco is for the player to draw
two or three cards with a sum total closer to nine than the dealer. At
the game last August played at Crockfords' casino in Mayfair, London,
Ivey and an unidentified woman were playing alone against the dealer, in
full view of 10 casino cameras. Ivey started his betting at £50,000
(about $77,000) per hand, and later raised that, with the casino's
blessing, to £150,000 (about $230,000) per hand. As in blackjack, punto
banco hands can be over in less than a minute. It's a game that's
supposed to be entirely based on the luck of the draw.
Over the course of three nights, Ivey and his companion dipped as low
as £500,000 ($770,000) in the red, but ended up with a substantial sum.
The casino's theory: that Ivey had spotted tiny imperfections in the
cards' designs, and used that knowledge to help identify when certain
cards would be on the table, even when face-down.