Phil Ivey Has $124,410 WSOP Winnings Confiscated

The legendary Phil Ivey in action at the poker tables

Phil Ivey finished eighth in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship at the 2019 WSOP but will never see his winnings. The high stakes legend should have taken home $124,410, but the Borgata in New Jersey blocked him from collecting it.

This is the latest twist in a seemingly never-ending saga involving the Borgata. Ivey is being sued by the East Coast casino for an incredible $10.13 million. A New Jersey judge ruled in favor of the Borgata after Ivey and Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun admitted edge sorting during high stakes baccarat sessions in 2012.

The pair played more than 1,800 hands of baccarat, some with stakes of up to $100,000 per hand. Borgata stated it should have won approximately $5.4 million, but Ivey walked away with a $9.6 million profit. A court heard how Ivey and Sun used a technique called edge sorting to sway the odds in their favor.

What is edge sorting?

Edge sorting exploits manufacturing errors in the printing of the back of cards. Backs of most playing cards are identical, but sometimes there are unintentional irregularities on the edges. These almost indistinguishable differences become more apparent if the card is rotated. Players ask for the high-value cards to be rotated, often citing superstition, and the dealer obliges. The players can then determine the high-value cards more accurately and massively increase their chances of winning.

U.S. District Judge Noel Hillman ruled the pair did not commit fraud but did breach their contract with the casino. Hillman ordered the repayment of $10.13 million.

The Borgata is in a current legal battle to seize Ivey’s Nevada-bases assets; he is thought to own several properties in Las Vegas. This is proving problematic, especially as Ivey is thought to have moved some of his worth to outside the US, which is why the Borgata has started targeting Ivey’s poker winnings.

Official home in on Ivey’s winnings

Officials for Borgata learned of Ivey’s progress in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship at the 2019 WSOP. Ivey was guaranteed $75,000 at the time the application to block his withdrawal of any winnings. First place was $1,099,311, eventually won by Phillip Hui, and Ivey went from one of the chip leaders to bust in eighth-place.

Ivey only played one more event at the 2019 WSOP, the $10,000 buy-in Main Event. Members of the poker community were amazed to learn Ivey busted from the Main Event after only 51-minutes. Perhaps he was playing recklessly in order to build a big stack, not caring if he busted.

We may no longer see Ivey in action in the United States because Borgata’s legal team have shown they have the power to cease any winnings. The 10-time WSOP bracelet winner has been spotted at the tables since this story broke. He was present and correct at the recent Triton Super High Roller Series in London, although he failed to cash.

It will be a major blow to poker if the poker legend avoids playing in the US. Inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2017, Ivey has 10 WSOP bracelets and a World Poker Tour title to his name. His live poker tournament winnings stand at $26,398,145, good enough for 14th place in the all-time money list.

You may find Ivey sticks to playing cash games instead of tournaments as winnings are not tracked. Ivey has won more than $20 million in online poker cash games and countless more millions live. It was reported Ivey won $16 million in one session of $4,000/$8,000 against billionaire Andy Beal in 2006.

More Ivey-related legal battles

This is not the only legal battle featuring Ivey. Crockfords Casino in London, United Kingdom, refused to pay £7.7 million ($11 million) to Ivey. Again, Ivey had been playing high stakes baccarat and admitted using the edge sorting technique. Crockford initially refunded Ivey £1 million, but then refused to honor the rest of the payment.

An appeal was lodged with the UK High Court which ruled edge sorting was “cheating for the purpose of civil law.” A further appeal to the UK Supreme Court also failed.

In January 2012, details of Ivey’s divorce from now ex-wife Luciaetta, became public knowledge. Court documents showed Ivey received $920,000 a month from his passive interest in Tiltware, the company behind the now-defunct Full Tilt. Luciaetta received $180,000 a month in alimony, her $1.2 million purse collection and more than $1 million worth of jewelry.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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