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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Gambling Spot » » Poker player loses court battle over £7.7m winnings from London casino (8 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Mr. Bones
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By walking into the casino, and sitting down at the table - Ivey essentially entered into a private agreement with the casino.

In that private agreement, there were some terms and conditions that were codified on paper, and there were others that were implied.

Ivey broke one of those implied requirements, and as a result the casino didn't feel it was obliged to give him his pay-out.

Ivey didn't break the law, he wandered outside of his implied contract with the casino.
It was a completely private affair, and has nothing to do with the law, only with the judge examining whether Ivey abided by the private contract he had with the casino (one he engaged in by walking in the casinos front door).

If you and I had a private contract Arnold, and we disagreed on how it was enacted upon, we too would wind up in court. We wouldn't be there because either of us broke the law - we would be there because we required the courts to determine whether we abided by our private contract.

Ivey failed to convince the judge that he was operating within the private contract he had with the casino, and by extension the casino was not obliged to honour Ivey's pay-out.
He wasn't cheating, he was wandering too far outside of his agreed contract with the casino.
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AMcD
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I hear you perfectly but, to me, it's more complicated than that.

They returned his money for instance.

About cheating:

"In the court of appeal, Lady Justice Arden said the Gambling Act 2005 provided that someone may cheat “without dishonesty or intention to deceive: depending on the circumstances it may be enough that he simply interferes with the process of the game”.

There was no doubt, she added, that the actions of Ivey and another gambler, Cheung Yin Sun, interfered with the process by which Crockfords played the game of Punto Banco with Ivey.".

THEY WERE CHEATING!
Mr. Bones
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I hear you Arnold!

But there is also the distinct possibility that Ivey considered quite sincerely that what he was doing was entirely within "the rules".
He would know that edge play itself certainly wasn't illegal or breaking his contract with the casino, and may have decided to push that one step further, into asking the dealer to rotate cards.

He pushed it a bit too far, and didn't get his money.

We all know that straight up edge play isn't cheating per see, it's just another bit of advantage play.
The real question might be, if you ask the dealer to rotate a card, is it advantage play such that it suddenly breaks your implied agreement with the casino, or is it legal cheating that could get you tossed in jail?

In this case, it would seem to just be advantage play pushed a bit too far?
Despite any words uttered by the judge, the fact that Ivey wasn't at any point in time charged with any crime does speak volumes, and is a fact we can't ignore.
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Cagliostro
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Quote:
On Oct 26, 2017, AMcD wrote:

...but every pit boss should force them to throw the dice the correct way.


Okay...what is the correct way? The correct way is both dice must hit the far backboard, preferably by hitting the table first, then the backboard and then coming to rest on the table. Technically they can hit the backboard first and then come to rest on the table. The key is BOTH dice must hit the backboard and bounce off. That is the "correct" way.

Setting the dice is perfectly acceptable since it does not affect the random outcome. Casinos operators, if they are smart, must cater to the players to a certain degree. Casino personnel are in the "people" or customer relations business. Many players have a strategy, whether it is one of the many progression systems, betting on or fading the trend of the decisions, and indeed even setting the dice. A smart operator, or businessman, will keep the players happy.

Many players set the dice and then toss. As long as they do so in a timely manner and don't slow down the game, they are allowed to do so in all licensed casinos that I am aware of.

Incidentally, some player like to set the dice just to make sure their number or point is on the cubes. Back in the 40s and 50s, in the illegal games in New York, Hot Springs, Arkansas and other areas of the US, the shooter had to hold his hand against the table and the stickman would toss the dice into his open palm. The player then had to immediately toss the dice at that point. No setting or arranging the dice in any manner was allowed. The ostensible purpose of this procedure was so the player could not control the dice with a control shot. That might have been so in some instances but the real reason was the house was using Ts or Tops and did not want the player so see that he could not make his point because it wasn't on the dice.

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Again, to me, and by definition...you cheat from the very second you try to modify/alter the natural outcome.


I'm not so sure that is correct. That depends on what you specifically meant by "altering the natural outcome." To me, this is a very slippery area. Is altering the outcome the same as altering the end result. Shuffle tracking, card counting and other methods (not detailed here), alter the end result as the player now has an advantage over the house. Is having an advantage over the house altering the natural outcome. In poker, are you altering the outcome if you opponent is sloppy and exposes some cards which gives you an advantage? What if the dealer is inadvertently exposing his hole card in Blackjack? Does that change the natural outcome and is that cheating?

Absolute statements or absolute opinions on more critical examination usually tend to point to many exceptions, nuances and indeed just personal opinion. As Shakespeare wrote, "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy." I have found that to be true, more than once, at least as it pertains to my experience.

"The sun always rises in the east and always sets in the west." Really, from what perspective or observation point? Does the sun really rise or fall?

It is hard if not impossible to support absolutes. Even in science, what is true today is often not true tomorrow.
tommy
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Phil and the casino had a bet, which is an agreement; the casino lost and then “welshed” failed to honour, a debt or obligation incurred through a promise or agreement. The tuppenny-ha’penny casino has essential called the bet void and given Phil his stake back.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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AMcD
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@Cag

I'll answer your long post later.

@Silver

You say: "But there is also the distinct possibility that Ivey considered quite sincerely that what he was doing was entirely within "the rules"".

All I know is that he was teaming up with Kelly Cheung Yin Sun, nicknamed... The queen of sorts! You can find some information about her over the Internet. Here are a couple:

https://www.casino.org/news/kelly-cheung......-revenge
https://www.casino.org/news/queen-sorts-......me-court
https://www.888casino.com/blog/casino-ti......-yin-sun

I'm not into Ivey's mind, and I certainly don't want to speak for him, but when you're teaming up with such people... I think you know perfectly what you are doing lol.

You say: "The real question might be, if you ask the dealer to rotate a card, is it advantage play such that it suddenly breaks your implied agreement with the casino, or is it legal cheating that could get you tossed in jail?"

And that's a very good question! To me, this is the core of the problem. In my vocabulary, asking to rotate the deck is cheating, because they intentionally interfere into the procedures in order to get a "marked" deck. BUT! The dealer shouldn't accept that! The pit boss shouldn't have accepted either, etc. If I ask you "can I take your money" and you answer "yes" knowingly, is it still robbery? I'm afraid I know too little about laws and how to interpret them in order to answer that. If a specialist could enlighten us, I'd be glad.
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Arnold,

If I ask you to show me your hole card in blackjack and you ask the floor supervisor who asks the shift supervisor who asks the casino manager and they all say, "Yes" am I still cheating by playing a hole card strategy against you?

Pretend for a moment that the casino operators are too stupid to know that you can crush a game when you're getting the hole card 100% of the time.

Remember: Phil asked the dealer to turn the cards with a supervisor that sits on EVERY table (that's how they operate at Crockford's). This request went all the way to the top before it was authorized. Upper management knew - the press likes to paint the picture that Kelly was only talking to the dealer. She was, but the dealer's bosses were standing right over her shoulder the entire time.

Still cheating?

Jason
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JasonEngland
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And there is no "right way" to throw the dice according to law. Only rules that the casinos can enforce or not enforce at their discretion. Ever seen them "no roll" a little old lady that sevens out on a short roll and clears the whole table of chips? Me neither.

Jason
Eternal damnation awaits anyone who questions God's unconditional love. --Bill Hicks
Cagliostro
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@Mr. Bones: I think you observations are right on point and clearly, succinctly and unemotionally clarified the situation to all.

Of course in disagreement between parties, some will be happy with a court decision and others will not be. Emotions enter into the equation which is why we have courts which will hopefully be unemotional, objective and rational in their decision. What others think or feel about the situation or determination is irrelevant.

I still maintain it was a good decision with a number of judges involved in the final determination.

Most importantly, it was a civil dispute and not a criminal trial - a very important distinction.
Mr. Bones
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Ivey's doings aside, I believe the solid outcome of this kind of thing is to quite powerfully chase away all the serious gamblers who may have already, or would have eventually frequented Crockford's.

At the end of the day, as noted by Cag above, it's a customer service business.
What Crockford's did from a customer service perspective was pretty lame, and presumably that "lack" of customer service will become (if it hasn't already) a major topic of discussion amongst high rollers.

Not sure you want high rollers anywhere bad mouthing the customer service in your casino.

On another note, as Jason points out above, senior management was essentially in on the whole thing as it was happening. Somehow I believe that if Arnold, Jason, Tommy, Cag or I were the Supervisor at Ivey's baccarat table that night, and Ivey (of all people) asked if the dealer would turn an entire series of cards, the first thing any one of us would think of is something related to edge sorting!

The entire affair was seriously compounded by the entire floor staff's somewhat amateurish game management skills.

The professional and responsible response to Ivey's request would have been - "I'm sorry sir, management doesn't allow a dealer to turn specific cards end for end at the players request".
Mr. Bones
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Cagliostro
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Quote:
On Oct 26, 2017, Mr. Bones wrote:

...What Crockford's did from a customer service perspective was pretty lame, and presumably that "lack" of customer service will become (if it hasn't already) a major topic of discussion amongst high rollers.

Not sure you want high rollers anywhere bad mouthing the customer service in your casino...

...The entire affair was seriously compounded by the entire floor staff's somewhat amateurish game management skills...


Yes, management bent over backwards to please Ivey but customer service aside, the player does not have Carte Blanche discretion over the operation of the game.

The floor staff was not amateurish in my opinion, but highly incompetent. In many joints, heads would roll over something like this, because not all casino operations are staffed by fools.

Having owned three business myself, unrelated to gambling, I would not want something like this to go to court. I would not want this kind of adverse publicity. In my opinion, the smart thing to do would have been to negotiate with Ivey and his lawyers, (which many businesses would do), explain he is not going to win a full decision of a civil suit because of the "shady" and perhaps illegal elements of the play and try to come to an equitable financial agreement.

However, Crockford's is very powerful. Maybe to them it was their way and no other.
Cagliostro
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Quote:
On Oct 26, 2017, JasonEngland wrote:

And there is no "right way" to throw the dice according to law.


No, not according to law. However, casino operations adhere to and submit certain procedures for casino game operation and the regulators are there to see that these procedures are adhered to.

So "correct" would be according to the accepted procedures adhered to on any game in a casinos which are pretty much standardized in major operations.

Of course, if would be nice if one could "short roll" the dice on every roll and the casino personnel would allow that because one could argue there is no law against doing so.

Well...Okay! Smile
AMcD
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That's a bunch of good questions here! Okay, I have some time. I must tell you that it's good to see that place back on the tracks of debate.

First thing first, it might be unnecessary to point that out but we never know who may read this page. I have obviously nothing against Phil Ivey, one of the strongest card players ever and absolutely one of my favourite. And I would be the last one to judge him because he tried to find an edge, I would be the last one (and the worst) amongst the hypocrites! I'm just using his case, as it's an interesting matter of debate.

I think that the underlying question of all this is what is cheating, really? I see two angles, legal and ethical/moral.

A) Legally, whether you like it or not, there are laws and regulations one is expect to follow when he plays in a casino. As Bones pointed out, when you are entering a casino you tacitly agree with their PRIVATE rules. There were (I don't know, maybe it's still the case) even places where you had to fill in and sign some sort of form (specifying all the house's regulations) before been allowed to play. When you break their rules, you are breaking the agreement you had with them and you face legal pursuits.

I say legal, because the transgressor and the casino might not agree about the violation and some court might be needed to decide and pronounce a judgement. It can be very complex! Were the casino regulations legal? Did the transgressor really break them? Were there some gaps in the casino rules that the contravener used but which are not illegal? Did he deliberately entered the casino with the intention to cheat or did he merely exploit some weakness he ran across? Did the management allowed too many liberties? Etc.

I'm certainly not qualified to answer those questions but I know, for sure, that's it's not BECAUSE some court gave some verdict that IT IS ethical, fair, legitimate or even true. As I said in a previous post, we have every week, here in UK, absolutely astounding court decisions. For the sake of illustration, here's one, quite crazy:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-......her.html

And it's certainly not specific to UK! In about all countries on earth, justice may fluctuate depending on your wealth, power, community and so on. So, OK, in the eyes of the law, Ivey and his team mates may have not been called cheaters but it leads us on point B.

B) Ethic. Equally important to me. Of course, when a court says you are innocent, well, legally you are. But as illustrated with the link above, the fairness of a verdict may still be a matter of debate! And debating is the bread and butter of the Gambling Spot, so, let's go. Of course, definitions vary, but here are a few definitions from the best sources (I give the ones which matter to us only) about "to cheat":

Oxford dictionary: cheat (at something) to act in a dishonest way in order to gain an advantage, especially in a game, a competition, an exam, etc.
Cambridge dictionary: to behave in a dishonest way in order to get what you want.
Collins dictionary: When someone cheats, they do not obey a set of rules which they should be obeying, for example in a game or exam.
McMillan dictionary: To behave dishonestly, or to not obey rules, for example in order to win a game or do well in an examination.

I already hear some of you saying, what is dishonest? Was is unfair, what is breaking the rules? But here, the answer is gonna be very different depending on our educations, cultures, professions, etc. (including our standard level of objectivity). Some are gonna say, "it's not written in the regulations, then it's allowed", some would say, "well it's not written but let's be serious, it's absolutely unfair". Others will object "the players is responsible of his cards", etc. etc.

Ethically, and I don't claim I'm right, I'm just expressing an opinion, ethically I say that Ivey and his mates were cheating.

- They team up with a women known for her outstanding capabilities to read discrepancies on the back of the cards; There is some INTENTION here!

- They ask the dealer to rotate the cards in order to spot them more conveniently. In my vocabulary it's called sorting a deck, the end result being a marked deck!

Is playing with a marked deck not cheating?

To me, even goose necking is cheating! I call a cat a cat. Some behaviours are fair, some aren't, and I don't need regulations and laws for it.

I make a distinction though, between accidental opportunities and intentional actions. When a players display his hole cards and you see them, you haven't done anything wrong, you didn't do anything for this to happen, how could you be called a cheat? Depending your ethics, if you're a gentleman and a fair bloke, you tell the guy to protect his HC more cautiously. If you have less standards, you just take advantage of it. After all, is it written in the cardroom regulations something about it? Probably not. Now, if you do all your possible in order to get information from your opponent's cards, it's very different! It's deliberate, you WANT to break the rules. And TO ME, that's cheating.

A few last words. Had Ivey not asked to rotate the cards, I would have no problem at all. He's not the first one to use edge reading, and certainly not the last one! And, yes Jason, the management was just awful. I would even say ridiculously non-professional. That's why I would have been very sad to see Ivey sentenced.

Interesting case anyway.

Your turn now my friends, shoot!
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Quote:
On Oct 26, 2017, AMcD wrote:

That's why I would have been very sad to see Ivey sentenced.

Your turn now my friends, shoot!


Touche.

I think many reasonable people would say that what Ivey did was probably unethical, opportunistic, devious, shady, but cheating...that really is a matter of personal opinion. Some might say he did, others would say he didn't. That is a matter of personal opinion and personal opinions vary greatly. We all have different values. When one gets into card playing for money, especially at a professional level, the lines can be sometimes blurred and shady occurrences are not uncommon. That is really part of the card playing game for money, for better or for worse. That is the world Ivey lives in.

But here is the main point that has been mentioned before but you may have glossed over it in your highly impassioned quest to "prove" your opinion of "cheating," but it is extremely relevant.

You say you are glad that Ivey was not imprisoned...your quote above. That is the key point here. He could not have been imprisoned or adjudicated guilty of any criminal violation, cheating or otherwise. It was a civil suit. He was suing Crockford's for the money he won and that they were withholding. Crockford was defending against Ivey's civil suit to get his money back.

There was no question of criminality here. If there were, Crockford would have had Ivey arrested for cheating. If that occurred Ivey could have then been criminally prosecuted and tried for fraud (cheating). But that is not what happened because it was not a simplistic, black or white case of card cheating. Many critical elements occurred including stupid and unknowing complicity of the casino personnel, the use of the casino's own cards and other nuanced and extenuating legal circumstances. All these elements make a huge difference in a court proceeding, criminal or civil...It is definitely not a simply black or white case.

Once again it was a civil suit against Crockford (the defendant) by Ivey (the plaintiff) for funds Crockford was withholding from Ivey.

There is a HUGE difference between a criminal case and a civil suit, and Arnold my very passionate friend... "therein lies the rub." And, it is a very...very...big...big...rub!!!

So, multiple judges came to the same conclusions on this in an English court. If it were a third world country, I might question it. But in the UK, especially with multiple Anglo-Saxon judges? No!!!!! It makes sense to me.

But once again, if you think it is a straight black or white determination of cheating...that's okay too. (I'm in very tolerant mood today.) Smile
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Here's the thing: contracts don't have to be "fair." In fact, many contracts have a side that is getting something over and above what the other side is getting. That's life.

Phil asked for certain parameters and those parameters were met. The fact that this "contract" was waaaaaay lopsided in his favor shouldn't be an issue.

If I ask you to pull out two each of the 4s, 5s and 6s from all 6 decks in your 6-deck blackjack shoe and put them behind the cut card and YOU DO IT because you don't understand that it gives me a huge edge that's your fault. Contract is valid. Once you figure it out (after I beat you to death at the tables) then we can renegotiate. But that contract stands, lopsided though it may be.

All of these UK judges were wrong.

Jason
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So we agree then, that neither Crockford's, or the judge felt Ivey was cheating - they felt only that Ivey leveraged the rules far enough outside the casinos comfort zone that they withheld his winnings.

No Cheating = No Charges
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AMcD
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Yes, but you guys always see from the side of the law. The court says he didn't cheat... therefore he didn't! Sure...

I prefer Jason's answer, because, yes, if Phil didn't cheat, why not giving him the money he won? "Sir, you didn't cheat but we don't like the way you play, which is unfair. Take your money back and bye bye. Pass our greetings to your wife". Seriously? That verdict was weird and dubious.

Again, according to the Gambling Act 2005 section 42 (https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2005/19/section/42), they were cheating! Quote:

(3) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) cheating at gambling may, in particular, consist of actual or attempted deception or interference in connection with—
(a) the process by which gambling is conducted.

My English is certainly off, broken, etc., you name it but that's exactly what they did: Interfering with the process by which gambling is conducted.
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Quote:
On Oct 26, 2017, JasonEngland wrote:

Here's the thing: contracts don't have to be "fair." In fact, many contracts have a side that is getting something over and above what the other side is getting. That's life.


No, they don't have to be fair, but they can't be designed to defraud. I think the courts decided the agreement was more than unfair...it basically was a scam or con because Ivey and his cohort could read the cards. A "contract" or agreement set up to defraud someone is not a valid contract. No court would uphold that.

Courts can nullify contracts if they were essentially negotiated in bad faith. Negotiating an agreement to defraud or scam someone would be doing so in bad faith. I think that is what the court determined, i.e., the contract or agreement was obtained through deceit and designed to defraud even if Crockford unknowingly allowed it to occur.

I think Ivey may have been lucky Crockford did not take this further. I believe they hesitated because they had control of the winnings and Ivey would have to sue to try to recover the money. Evidently Crockfords's attorneys felt Ivey would be fighting an uphill battle to recover his winning so they simply withheld payment. That was a smart move on their part.

I still think the court made the right decision. One simply cannot do something like this with impunity after the victim figures out what happened.To argue it was a contract and as such has to be honored does not hold water under the circumstances - which is basically what the court said.
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It seems me the court is in error by assuming that the procedures of the games are fixed, when in fact they are variable. A bet is an agreement and the parties can agree to anything. Odds, procedures etcetera are all negotiable and changeable. Sometimes the boys here in a poker game want to run it twice or more, which is not the normal procedure of the game but it is the procedure as and when they agree to do it. It is only wrong or cheating if you will when one does not abide by the agreement. Therefore then it is the casino, not Phil who have cheated in this case.
If there is a single truth about Magic, it is that nothing on earth so efficiently evades it.

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Quote:
On Oct 26, 2017, JasonEngland wrote:
Here's the thing: contracts don't have to be "fair."
...
All of these UK judges were wrong.


It so happens that in UK contract law, contracts can't have unfair terms:

Unfair terms in English contract law are regulated under three major pieces of legislation, compliance with which is enforced by the Office of Fair Trading. The Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 is the first main Act, which covers all contracts that have exclusion clauses. The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 lays on top further requirements for consumer contracts. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 concerns certain sales practices.

Unfair Terms in English Contract Law
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