Phil Ivey will appear on the Tuesday, October 7 edition of 60 Minutes Sports on Showtime to talk about his life and the recent lawsuits that surround his edge sorting techniques in high-stakes baccarat games.
The interview marks a rare public media appearance for Ivey, who has granted relatively few interviews, despite the fact that he may be the most famous poker player in the world.
CBS News has released a trailer for the 60 Minutes Sports segment that features Ivey, during which the poker legend spends time with James Brown to talk about poker and other topics, including the baccarat lawsuits. The segment appears to have been filmed in Las Vegas during the World Series of Poker, and includes portions that were shot at Ivey’s home there.
While Ivey could be a worthy subject for a profile at any time, it’s obvious why the program chose to do the interview now. While there are certainly lighthearted moments in the preview for the segment, including Ivey attempting to teach Brown how to play poker, it also gets to the heart of the matter: the accusations of cheating at baccarat that have been leveled at the pro player.
When asked whether those allegations are the most serious threat to his career yet, Ivey admits that they could potentially carry a lot of weight.
“Once you get ‘cheater’ next to your name, especially in my business, which is the business of gambling, it’s really bad,” Ivey said.
CBS producer Alvin Patrick said he had been trying to get an interview with Ivey for five years before the poker superstar agreed to appear on the show. That made it all the more surprising that Ivey was willing to spend time with the 60 Minutes crew during the WSOP, though he may also have seen it as an opportunity to get his side of the story out in regards to the edge-sorting controversy.
Ivey has outstanding legal battles with two casinos over his use of the technique in private, high-stakes baccarat games. In one case, he is suing Crockfords Casino in London after they refused to pay out on the Â£7.8 million ($12.6 million) he won at their baccarat tables. A year later, the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City sued Ivey in an attempt to recover about $9.6 million in winnings that he collected over the course of four visits.
Ivey and accomplice Cheng Yin Sun allegedly won by convincing the casinos to let them use decks of cards that they knew had printing errors on their backs. They then asked dealers to turn high cards 180 degrees, supposedly for superstitious reasons. But given that the sides of the cards were not identical, this allowed Ivey to distinguish high cards from low ones when they were still face down, giving him an enormous advantage over the casino.
The big question is whether this technique is cheating or just a legitimate advantage play, akin to card counting in blackjack.
“Some people believe that it was cheating,” Ivey says to Brown in the preview video. “I know it wasn’t, and that’s why we’re going to court.”