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Top poker player denied £7 million winnings by High Court

American Poker player Phil Ivey has been unsuccessful in his High Court claim to force Genting Casinos to pay out £7.7m in winnings.  Mr Ivey won the sum playing baccarat in August 2012 at the Crockfords Club Casino in Mayfair owned by the Defendant company.  However, the casino subsequently refused to pay out and returned Mr Ivey's £1m stake.   The casino claimed that Mr Ivey had employed a technique known as 'edge sorting' to obtain an advantage.  Edge sorting involves examining the back of cards to spot minor imperfections. 

The Defendant's lawyers argued that edge sorting defeated the essential premise of the game and thus there was no contract or, in the alternative, constituted cheating.  Mr Ivey claimed edge sorting was a legitimate strategy and that he was simply using information openly available to him by examining the backs of cards - that the casino had provided - to make decisions.

Mr Justice Mitting concluded that Mr Ivey's technique constituted cheating for the purposes of civil law and that therefore the casino was not obliged to pay out the winnings.  It was immaterial that Mr Ivey genuinely believed that he was not cheating, but employing a legitimate technique.  It was also irrelevant that the casino could have taken better steps to protect itself against edge sorting.


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