Poker pro Phil Ivey accused of cheating by Atlantic City casino


Phil Ivey calls himself "the greatest poker player of all time," but a casino in Atlantic City has accused him of being something else: a cheat.

In a lawsuit, the Borgata claims Ivey pocketed more than $9.6 million by cheating at baccarat, the card game made famous by James Bond where the object is to pick the hand with the value closest to nine.

As a well-known poker pro who has won nine World Series of Poker bracelets and nearly $22 million in prize money, Phil Ivey was allowed to make a lot of requests. When he visited the Borgata in 2012, he requested a private pit, a particular set of playing cards and an automatic shuffler. Initially the hotel was happy to oblige the gambler, but now the casino thinks he made those requests just so he could cheat, reports CBS News correspondent Vinita Nair.

The casino claims in court documents that Ivey and a female accomplice studied the edges of the playing cards for tell-tale imperfections. Once Ivey knew the value of those cards, he could then make big bets when those cards were re-dealt. It's a tactic called edge-sorting.

Gaming consultant Eliot Jacobson said playing cards often have irregular patterns along the edges because of printing errors.

"The casinos should be more careful with the cards they use, but the truth is that most of the decks of cards that are out there have some sort of design flaw," he said.

According to the Borgata lawsuit, Ivey visited the casino four times in 2012. He was betting as much as $100,000 per hand.

The casino says edge sorting gave Ivey at least a 6.5 percent edge over the house, or more than $6,500 dollars won for every $100,000 wagered.

"By itself, there's nothing inherently wrong with edge sorting," Jacobson said. "The question is what else did he do? Did he involve the dealers in some sort of collusion? Did he work out some sort of deal with the card manufacturer?"

Borgata officials finally caught on after Ivey's fourth visit, when they learned he had been accused of edge sorting by the London casino Crockfords, which withheld more than $12 million of his winnings just two months earlier.

Ivey filed a lawsuit to force Crockfords to release his earnings, and this time he's betting on the law.

Ivey's representative told CBS News that Ivey takes the matter seriously and will defend himself against any questions of his integrity. Edge sorting has never been declared illegal anywhere, which means Ivey's cases could have the potential to set a big precedent.