Poker star Phil Ivey says he didn’t cheat to win $22M
LAS VEGAS — Phil Ivey, a 10-time World Series of Poker winner, said he did not cheat when he won nearly $22 million playing baccarat at casinos in New Jersey and London.
Ivey told “60 Minutes Sports” for an interview to be broadcast Tuesday that there is a difference between increasing one’s odds and cheating. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the interview.
“I’m viewing the casino as my opponent,” he said. “It’s my job to try to exploit weaknesses in the house and try to give myself the best opportunity to win.”
The Borgata in Atlantic City and Crockfords in London say Ivey cheated them out of millions of dollars when he played baccarat there in 2012. They say he essentially kept track of card values by watching for design imperfections on the backsides of the cards.
The Borgata is suing Ivey to recoup $9.6 million it paid him in winnings, while Ivey is suing Crockfords for nearly $12 million after it refused to pay.
The poker star said the casinos agreed to certain conditions that gave him an advantage before he agreed to gamble with a few million dollars.
He asked for a specific brand of playing cards, a shuffling machine, an Asian dealer and that the same card decks be used. The casinos granted all of those requests. Ivey said each of those conditions was used to get an edge, including bringing a companion with him who spoke Mandarin who could communicate with the dealer. The shuffling machine, for example, would keep the cards in a certain order, he said.
But casino officials said in court filings that they were under the impression Ivey’s conditions were based on superstition and not to gain an advantage.
Officials with The Borgata and Crockfords didn’t participate in the television interview because the companies don’t comment on pending litigation.
“Some people believe that it was cheating,” Ivey said. “I know it wasn’t. The professional gamblers know it’s not. I wouldn’t do anything close to cheating. I mean, my reputation is everything in gambling.”