The Borgata Hotel and Casino’s lawsuit against Phil Ivey is still a long way from being ruled on, but Ivey has decided to go on an offensive in advance of his time in court.
Ivey and co-defendant Cheng Yin Sun have decided to countersue the Borgata, reiterating their claims that they did nothing wrong and accusing the casino of failing to hold on to critical evidence for the case.
“Plaintiff Borgata had a duty of care at all times relevant hereto due and owing to the defendants, to maintain, sequester and preserve the precise playing cards utilized by the plaintiff in each of the casino games patronized by the defendants from April through July of 2012,” the lawsuit reads.
“Plaintiff Borgata knew that those playing cards were critically material to Ivey and Sun’s defense, and knew further that destruction of those playing cards would render the defendants irrevocably prejudice in defending against plaintiff’s claims and in securing judgement against the plaintiff.”
Because of these and other claims, Ivey and Sun are requesting compensatory, consequential and punitive damages from the Borgata.
They are also hoping to recover fees related to the lawsuit (including legal fees and court costs), as well as “any other relief the Court deems equitable and just.”
The dispute dates back to 2012, when Ivey won $9.6 million from the Borgata over four sessions of baccarat that year.
Ivey won in part by using a technique known as edge sorting, on that he says is a perfectly legitimate advantage play, but which the Borgata has argued is a form of cheating.
Ivey and Sun played the disputed baccarat games in a private VIP area using a brand of cards he specifically requested: an eight-deck shoe of purple Gemaco cards, to be exact.
Dealers then agreed to rotate high cards in the deck 180 degrees, a move that the players claimed was done for superstitious reasons.
But unknown to the Borgata, those cards had slight imperfections in the way they were cut.
That meant that Ivey could distinguish which cards were high and low even when they were face down, giving him an advantage over the house that showed itself over time.
The Borgata realized what Ivey had done only after the poker pro was denied nearly $12 million in winning by Crockfords, a casino in London.
That led the Borgata to sue Ivey for the money he had won from them, putting Ivey in the middle of two separate lawsuits over baccarat winnings.
In the first case, Crockfords may have had a leg up, as they had never paid Ivey’s winnings to begin with. Ivey attempted to sue to force the casino to pay, but a High Court justice in London ruled in favor of Crockfords; an appeal has been granted, however, and will be heard in December.
The second place may be a bit more difficult for the casino to win.
The Borgata paid Ivey his winnings after each session, and it wasn’t until months later that they accused Ivey of cheating.
For the moment, however, the case is going forward, as a request to dismiss the case outright was denied in March. It is unclear when the original charges and the counterclaims might be resolved.