The Borgata Casino in Atlantic City has been chasing Poker professional Phil Ivey for over 5 years. Now, in what will probably be the first legal incident of many, the establishment has managed to officially snatch away a huge win.
The Poker legend entered the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Championship, putting down a $50,000 buy-in stake. He is certainly an experienced player, so it was no surprise when he finished in 8th place. The achievement netted him a whopping $124,410 prize.
What came as a bit more of a surprise, at least to those unfamiliar with the ongoing spat, was the almost full amount being seized by US Marshals. The debt collection was done on behalf of the Borgata, and would be put towards the total amount owed of $10.1 million.
But although seeming harsh, the debt collection is not without good reason. The story dates back to 2012. It was then that Ivey and Kelly Cheung Yin Sun went on a Baccarat playing binge in the venue, managing to rake in around $9.6 million over the course of a few days. The owed sum was dutifully paid out.
However, it later came to light that the pair was using a highly controversial method to get an unfair advantage. The method is known as edge sorting, and involves imperfections on the backs of cards being memorized. After a few rounds skilled players can drastically sway odds in their favour by studying the cards. But this not in any way what would be considered acceptable.
In 2014 the Borgata filed a lawsuit, having initiated an investigation and uncovering the edge-sorting cheating. The court sided with the venue, and ordered the amount be paid back. But that was only the start of a much longer legal struggle.
Officials scoured accounts belonging to Ivey, but it soon became clear that the winnings were nowhere to be found. Only a single empty bank account could be located. In order for the sum to be collected, it was decided that assets could be claimed and auctioned. But this did not come close to covering the $10 million.
Finally the ultimate decision was made to allow any winnings earned by Ivey to be seized, which is what occurred at the recent WSOP. Although again, the $124,410 barely made a dent in the total debt.
The story is likely far from over, but speculation is rife as to what happened to the money, and if Ivey will simply avoid ever playing in professional tournaments again, given that he will no longer be able to claim winnings.