Judge rules that winning casino baccarat by taking note of asymmetries in card-backs is cheating

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/01/15/judge-rules-that-winning-casin.html

The statute the judge ruled Ivey violated is:

a. It shall be unlawful… Knowingly to deal, conduct, carry on, operate or expose for play any game or games played with cards, dice or any mechanical device, or any combination of games or devices, which have in any manner been marked or tampered with, or placed in a condition, or operated in a manner, the result of which tends to deceive the public or tends to alter the normal random selection of characteristics or the normal chance of the game which could determine or alter the result of the game.

b. It shall be unlawful knowingly to use or possess any marked cards, loaded dice, plugged or tampered with machines or devices.

It sounds to me like the house should be held guilty, if anyone. Ivey wasn’t the dealer or operator, and the cards belonged to the casino, not him. From the writeup it sounds like it was a private room with no other players, so he couldn’t have been deceiving the public either.


Good point L-M… The casino provided the cards.

But paragraph B states: “It shall be unlawful knowingly to use … any marked cards” ; clearly they’re marked.

If we find out the guy was caught because of bragging online about beating the house, make him donate it to charity.


The house agreed to play with the cards, which were stock (not marked - just asymmetric. Without the house collusion in card flipping, that would be useless), and they agreed to the weird stipulations that the player made. Had the scheme backfired and the house won, the would happily have kept the money.

The law as stated is against rigged carny games - note “operate”. The house can use whatever deck they want - they got greedy trying to get business, and they paid the price.


No they didn’t; the judge just ruled in their favour.

The house always wins.


It strikes me that the clever thing to do would be to win big and then offer to split your winnings with the Casino in return for telling them how it was done. The amount they won seems astronomical. I’m surprised that the Casino let them keep on playing.

I seem to remember a case a few years ago, where some gamblers noted that slight faults in roulette wheels gave them an edge in predicting where the ball would end up. According to my rusty memory banks, the gamblers made a deal with the Casino to tell them how the trick was pulled.


The card rotation thing is ridiculous - I’d let them keep the money if the casino’s that stupid.


Wonder if that’s what happened here? Notice the heat map of chips.

$350,000 bet nets $3,500,000.

Lol, kudos to the croupier for keeping the chips down.


It’s only fair. It’s not like the casino is allowed to serve players free drinks.


I see this sometimes in articles: nothing in the stated laws indicts the accused, yet somehow a judge interprets them that way by ignoring details, or pretending to not see them.
I like to call this “pulling a dumb judge”, because nobody believes the judge is that stupid.

The player played the game as-is; did not mark the cards themselves; is not required to reveal their strategies, and certainly cannot be held responsible for the casino’s decisions, especially with regards to the materials used for gaming.


Phil Ivey is kind of the Michael Jordan of professional poker players. Well, maybe not quite that good, but he’s one of the world’s top poker pros and has been for a long time. That’s not someone you just kick out of your casino. I’m sure the house noticed, though, and went back and studied their security camera footage.

I imagine once they studied the camera footage, they noticed the constant requests to rotate the cards and immediately pulled the decks to inspect them. No bragging on Ivey’s part required.


When playing Black Jack, I have this silly superstition that I do better if the dealer plays their hand first. I wonder if casinos would go along with that. :wink:


Tower of chips = perfect justification for vertical video. (Not!)


Did you miss the words “knowingly”?

Had the Casino KNOWN that he card backs were asymmetrical and thus one being able to discern which is which, they never would have used them.

I am not a big follower of professional poker, but I know the name Phil Ivey He is what is known as a whale - someone who is expected to play big, which means they will lose (and some times win) big.

Did you see they comped him a QUARTER OF A MILLION bucks of free stuff?I don’t even know what that looks like. I assume it is a very fancy room and not a warehouse full of Scotch.

From the article, it wasn’t too of an unusual request and others ask for such things due to superstitions.

But that is outside the rules. Just like a superstition where you fan out the deck face up before dealing. And, again, this isn’t some schmo, the is Phil Ivey, one of the best poker payers in the world. One would be inclined to humor him. Even if one suspected him of cheating, one would not do so with out evidence because he is who he is.


I wonder if they will let him back in after trying to take them for $13.8m? I guess that might just constitute a slow Wednesday morning’s takings for them.

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So more than “a few years ago” then :smiley: Blimey, I must have a great memory :wink:


I think if you are identifying anything about the back of a card then you are cheating. This seems awfully clear cut to me.

At the same time, I’m not a huge fan of casinos using up huge amounts of court time over this. Phil Ivey hooked you, suck it up.

As Cory rightly points out:

if Phil Ivey is playing baccarat at all then you should assume he is swindling you. I don’t know him personally, but people don’t become professional poker players by playing games they can’t win.


It has probably happened a few times since


baccarat: “I’m not stupid! You’re stupid!” Runs to room crying. Slams door. Morrissey can be heard coming from the room.