Phil Ivey, U.S. poker champ, battles London casino for winnings after cheating accusation

(CBS News) LONDON -- Phil Ivey, one of the biggest names in poker, is going head-to-head in a battle with one of London's most prestigious casinos, and a whopping $12 million is at stake in the legal showdown.

A nine-time winner of the World Series of Poker, Ivey played the high-stakes card game baccarat at Crockford's, London's oldest casino, in August, 2012. Over the course of two days, he racked up the impressive winnings.

The object of baccarat -- known as the "game of kings" -- is to get a hand with a value closest to nine. The game is a cultural touchstone, central to the Bond films as well as the 1966 movie, "Kaleidoscope," starring Warren Beatty. In the film, Beatty's character breaks into a factory, marks the plates used to make the playing cards, and soon after, wins big at the casinos using the marked cards.

Crockford's Casino has accused Ivey of pulling off a similar scheme. According to court documents obtained by CBS News, the casino claims Ivey and a female accomplice studied the backs of cards for slight imperfections -- even asking casino dealers to rotate some cards on occasion so the telltale flaws would be easier to spot.

In the documents, Crockford's says Ivey and his friend told the dealer they were merely being superstitious.

Once Ivey ascertained the value of the cards with the defects, he could then make large bets when those cards were re-dealt, the casino claims.

Bill Zender, a security consultant for the gaming industry, told CBS News' Charlie D'Agata that, "probably 70 percent of the playing cards have some type of flaw. Whether it could be used for cheating is another thing."

Crockford's Casino withheld Ivey's winnings after in-house security studied surveillance footage of his baccarat games. Ivey strongly denies any wrongdoing and sued Crockford's in early May to try and claim his cash.

Ivey said in a statement: "The fact that I have issued a lawsuit in the face of what they are alleging says everything about how comfortable I am with my conduct and the validity of my win."

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Follow Us

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.

The Newsroom