Phil Ivey.
Phil Ivey. (Photo: www.LasVegasVegas.com via Wikimedia Commons)

The chips are down and U.S. poker star Phil Ivey is going all in by taking his long-running dispute against a London casino all the way to the U.K. Supreme Court.

Ivey is attempting to recover 7.8 million pounds ($9.6 million) in winnings that have been withheld by Crockfords, an exclusive casino in London’s wealthy Mayfair district, after he was caught cheating.

Ivey, described by the World Series of Poker as “arguably the best poker player in the world,” admitted to using a controversial cards technique to amass the vast sum while playing baccarat at the casino in 2012. But he said that so-called “edge-sorting,” which involves identifying variations in the pattern printed on the backs of cards in order to gain an advantage over the house, was a legitimate practice for skillful players and that the casino should have protected itself against it.

His argument was dismissed by the U.K. High Court in 2014 and then again by the Court of Appeal last November, however, with the judge ruling that the practice amounted to cheating and that Ivey had “achieved his winnings through manipulating Crockfords’ facilities for the game without Crockfords’ knowledge.”

Ivey is now making one last throw of the dice after the Supreme Court, the U.K.’s highest court for civil cases, granted him permission to challenge the appeals court decision. A spokesman for Ivey told The American Lawyer that an appeal has been lodged with the court and that the case is likely to be heard next year.

Ivey said in a statement that continuing the legal battle was “the right thing to do … for the entire gaming industry,” and that the Court of Appeal ruling “made no sense.” He added: “The original trial judge ruled that I was not dishonest and none of the three Appeal Court judges disagreed, and yet the decision went against me by a majority of two to one.”

Matthew Dowd, a partner at specialist London media law firm Archerfield Partners, which is advising Ivey, said that the Court of Appeal ruling left the interpretation of cheating under the U.K. Gambling Act “totally unclear.” The Supreme Court’s decision to grant permission to appeal “demonstrates that [the court] agrees with that view,” he said.

Ivey is also being represented by Richard Spearman of 39 Essex Chambers and Max Mallin of Wilberforce Chambers.

Crockfords owner Genting UK is being represented in the dispute by London-based law firm Kingsley Napley and Christopher Pymont of Maitland Chambers.

Genting UK president Paul Willcock said at the time of the Court of Appeal ruling that it “vindicated” the company’s actions in refusing to give Ivey the money. Genting could not immediately be reached for comment in relation to the Supreme Court action.

Ivey has won 10 World Series of Poker bracelets, one World Poker Tour title and appeared at nine World Poker Tour final tables. He has career casino earnings of more than $23 million, according to poker site CardPlayer.com.

Chris Johnson can be reached at cjohnson@alm.com. On Twitter: @chris_t_johnson

The chips are down and U.S. poker star Phil Ivey is going all in by taking his long-running dispute against a London casino all the way to the U.K. Supreme Court.

Ivey is attempting to recover 7.8 million pounds ($9.6 million) in winnings that have been withheld by Crockfords, an exclusive casino in London’s wealthy Mayfair district, after he was caught cheating.

Ivey, described by the World Series of Poker as “arguably the best poker player in the world,” admitted to using a controversial cards technique to amass the vast sum while playing baccarat at the casino in 2012. But he said that so-called “edge-sorting,” which involves identifying variations in the pattern printed on the backs of cards in order to gain an advantage over the house, was a legitimate practice for skillful players and that the casino should have protected itself against it.

His argument was dismissed by the U.K. High Court in 2014 and then again by the Court of Appeal last November, however, with the judge ruling that the practice amounted to cheating and that Ivey had “achieved his winnings through manipulating Crockfords’ facilities for the game without Crockfords’ knowledge.”

Ivey is now making one last throw of the dice after the Supreme Court, the U.K.’s highest court for civil cases, granted him permission to challenge the appeals court decision. A spokesman for Ivey told The American Lawyer that an appeal has been lodged with the court and that the case is likely to be heard next year.

Ivey said in a statement that continuing the legal battle was “the right thing to do … for the entire gaming industry,” and that the Court of Appeal ruling “made no sense.” He added: “The original trial judge ruled that I was not dishonest and none of the three Appeal Court judges disagreed, and yet the decision went against me by a majority of two to one.”

Matthew Dowd, a partner at specialist London media law firm Archerfield Partners, which is advising Ivey, said that the Court of Appeal ruling left the interpretation of cheating under the U.K. Gambling Act “totally unclear.” The Supreme Court’s decision to grant permission to appeal “demonstrates that [the court] agrees with that view,” he said.

Ivey is also being represented by Richard Spearman of 39 Essex Chambers and Max Mallin of Wilberforce Chambers.

Crockfords owner Genting UK is being represented in the dispute by London-based law firm Kingsley Napley and Christopher Pymont of Maitland Chambers.

Genting UK president Paul Willcock said at the time of the Court of Appeal ruling that it “vindicated” the company’s actions in refusing to give Ivey the money. Genting could not immediately be reached for comment in relation to the Supreme Court action.

Ivey has won 10 World Series of Poker bracelets, one World Poker Tour title and appeared at nine World Poker Tour final tables. He has career casino earnings of more than $23 million, according to poker site CardPlayer.com.

Chris Johnson can be reached at cjohnson@alm.com. On Twitter: @chris_t_johnson