The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City has responded to a countersuit filed by professional poker player Phil Ivey, saying that their destruction of cards used in his controversial baccarat sessions were destroyed before the casino became aware that anything suspicious may have occurred on those dates.
The response comes after lawyers for Ivey and Cheng Yin Sun filed the countersuit alleging that the Borgata had intentionally destroyed the cards in order to undermine his defense.
The dispute is over four sessions that took place at the Borgata over the course of several months in 2012.
Ivey and Sun played baccarat in a private VIP area, winning a total of $9.6 million from the casino during the visits.
Borgata Becomes Suspicious After Crockfords Incident
The Borgata paid Ivey his winnings without incident.
But when Crockfords, a casino in London, refused to pay Ivey after he similarly won millions playing baccarat with them, the Borgata took notice and sued Ivey in an attempt to recover their losses.
In both cases, the dispute is over Ivey’s use of a technique known as edge-sorting, one that is either an advantage play or a form of cheating, depending on who you ask.
Interestingly, the facts in these cases are hardly in dispute by either side; it is simply a matter of how the actions of the casino and Ivey should be interpreted.
In the baccarat sessions, Ivey and Sun asked the casino to use a very specific set of playing cards manufactured by Gemaco. They also requested that the games be played with an automatic shuffler.
The casinos agreed to these conditions, and were similarly compliant when Ivey asked dealers to turn the high cards in the shoe 180 degrees, ostensibly for superstitious reasons.
What they didn’t realize was that the Gemaco cards in question were imperfectly cut, allowing Ivey to identify which cards had been turned while looking at them face down.
Knowing whether individual cards were high or low was enough to give Ivey a substantial advantage over the casino. In one particularly successful session in July 2012, Ivey won $4.8 million from the Borgata over the course of 17 hours.
Countersuit Alleges Deliberate Destruction of Evidence
After the Borgata sued Ivey and Sun, the defendants filed a countersuit, saying that the case should be dismissed due to the fact that the casino had destroyed the cards used in the games. They also sought legal fees and damages under laws related to the filing of frivolous lawsuits.
But in their response, the Borgata says that the cards were destroyed as a matter of due course, which occurred before there was any dispute over the baccarat winnings.
“Some of the cards used in the play at issue in this case were destroyed in the regular course of plaintiff’s business operations, prior to plaintiff’s becoming aware of defendants’ scheme and the defect in the playing cards, and pursuant to applicable regulations,” the response read.
Lawyers for the Borgata also say that Ivey and Sun cannot recover damages due to their “fraudulent conduct,” and say that the statute of limitations has expired on the allegations the defendants are making.
Ivey is also involved in a similar lawsuit against Crockfords, in which he sued the casino in an attempt to force them to pay him his winnings. While courts initially ruled in favor of the casino, an appeal is expected to be heard later this year.