I have two distinct lives. One in the trenches of low-budget film and television, the other in professional gambling. Because of the feast-or-famine nature of show business I need a reliable income... gambling. So here you will read about both worlds. Enjoy!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Phil Ivey case

For those not familiar with the Ivey case let me give you a brief recap. In August of 2012 Phil Ivey, and a partner named Cheung Yin Sun played Punto Banco at Crockfords in London. He won 7.7 million pounds over 2 days. (Spoiler alert - he was edge sorting.) Crockfords said they would wire him the money, and then stiffed him. He sued to get the money he won, and on October 8 the judge ruled that Crockfords did not have to pay because Ivey cheated.  A few facts about the case:
  • The casino used new cards for each shoe. Ivey played 4 shoes before asking to keep the same cards. Since Ivey and his partner were not touching the cards the casino agreed.
  • They were using a brand of cards called Angel. (Not Gemaco)
  • Ivey asked that the casino use a machine to shuffle the cards.
  • At the end of the first night's play Ivey asked if he could continue the next day with the same cards. 
Here are a few choice quotes from the judgement:

"There is a complete dearth of authority on cheating at common law, at least in the civil context. This is unsurprising. Although at common law gaming contracts were enforceable in principle, though sometimes not in practice on particular facts, section 18 of the Gaming Act 1845 provided that all contracts or agreements by way of gaming and wagering shall be null and void. No suit could therefore be raised by or against a party to a gaming contract alleged to have cheated. There is, therefore, no case law on what amounts to cheating."

"This is, as far as I know, the first case in which the question whether or not the conduct of a party to a gaming contract amounted to cheating has had to be determined in an English court."

"There is no commonly accepted view amongst those who play Punto Banco about whether edge-sorting does or does not amount to cheating. David Mills, a levelheaded and experienced English expert in casino gambling considers that it does. Towards the end of 2013 he conducted a survey amongst seven of the eight biggest casino operators in the UK. He found that four out of the seven considered that it was cheating and two out of seven considered it was not a legitimate practice. The remaining one considered that it was not cheating, nor illegitimate. Dr. Jacobson, to whom I have already referred, who has extensive experience in the USA of casino gambling both as a consultant to casinos and, between 1997 and 2005, as an advantage player himself, considers that it is not cheating. His informal survey, as he put it, of "hundreds of people" has provided the answer that the general but not universal view is that it is not cheating. I have not found these expressions of opinion to be helpful. Mr. Mills did not canvass gamblers and, as far as I can tell, Dr. Jacobson's survey was unsystematic. Neither establishes a generally accepted view."

RWM: Really? This is the way they approached this? The casino expert went and asked a bunch of casino operators what they think, and the other side did an informal survey of hundreds of people?

"Crockfords maintain that the claimant practised (sic) deception upon them by pretending to be superstitious when he was not, for example, by making a fuss over lucky Crockfords hats, which he and Ms Sun wore, and by asking for "lucky" cards and for a Chinese croupier on the ground that he got lucky when playing with Asian women."

I can go on, but below you can read the judgement for yourself. We will be discussing this with Ken Adams on tonight's Gambling With an Edge, and again next week with attorney Bob Nersesian.

1 comment:

An observer said...

I get the distinct impression that Dr. Jacobson is not a seasoned Expert Witness.

An Expert Witness’s primary role is to advise the court: -

“Experts should assist the court by providing objective, unbiased opinions on matters within their expertise, and should not assume the role of advocate”.

Does he really think he helped the Claimant with his ranting about evil casinos?

Does he really think the court was advised by his testimony?

Does he really think he assisted the Claimant by getting the math wrong and submitting an eleventh hour Mea Culpa?

He might also like to look at his math on ES, particularly when one swaps the sixes from one side to the other ;-)