July 9, 2020 3 min read


Borgata and Phil Ivey Will Settle the Infamous Baccarat Case

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit issued a court ruling Thursday regarding the long-lasting saga between poker legend Phil Ivey and MGM’s Borgata casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Both parties have reached a settlement the terms of which have not been disclosed.

Edge Sorting Technique Changed the Odds

The case started in 2012, when Phil Ivey and playing partner Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun won $9.6 million from the casino playing high-stakes baccarat. In this game, the casino has a 1% advantage against baccarat players and Borgata allowed a stake of $100,000 per hand to be placed. Unfortunately for the casino, Phil Ivey and his partner spotted manufacturing defects in the patterns at the back of the playing cards, a technique called edge-sorting, and exploited this to their advantage changing the odds in the game to 6.8% in their favor.

Four years after Borgata filed against Ivey, the US District Court for the District of New Jersey issued a ruling in favor of the casino, stating that the two players were in breach of their contract with Borgata by using the edge sorting. The judge sought to return both parties to their positions prior to the controversial baccarat sessions, and Borgata tried to collect its money going after Ivey’s poker winnings.

Borgata decided to comb Phil Ivey’s domestic accounts despite knowing that the nearly $10 million from the infamous baccarat play went outside of the country, as the casino itself agreed to wire the amount to the player’s account in Mexico.

Rebuke from the Poker Community

Going after Ivey’s WSOP winnings did not do any favor to the casino, besides earning a strong rebuke from the poker community, calling Borgata to stop pursuing the player. Phil Ivey is a legend in the professional poker world, having 10 WSOP bracelets and millions in cash games, even considered to be the most talented ever poker player.

Phil Ivey and his playing partner appealed the 2016 court ruling to the Third Circuit in 2018, as they did not mark the cards to gain an edge. Ivey and Sun never denied they used the edge-sorting technique to win, with their attorney stating in 2014 it was sheer skill, while Borgata insisted money should be returned because marked cards were used.

The casino went further stating that the dealer’s turning of the cards is an act of “marking” and that the automatic shuffling device was a “cheating device”. The casino law in New Jersey does not define “marking” but deals with “use” of marked cards. There were also claims Borgata was well aware of the asymmetrical patterns present in the cards used for baccarat.

The Third Circuit’s ruling stated that, after the oral hearing in 2017, the matter was referred to the Appellate Mediation Program, and the parties have now reached an agreement, the settlement of which is pending certain items being vacated by the lower court.

There is no detail as to whether Phil Ivey would return partially of fully the money or Borgata decided to call it a quit.


Although Fiona doesn't have a long-spanning background within the gambling industry, she is an incredibly skilled journalist who has built a strong interest in the constantly growing iGaming network. The team at GamblingNews.com is glad to have her on our roster to help deliver the best stories as soon as they hit. Aside from writing, she loves to dabble in online casino games such as slots and roulette, both for her own enjoyment and also as research to better improve her understanding of the industry.


  • Joel
    November 10, 2021 at 10:13 pm

    Casinos provided their own set(s) of playing cards. It is their ( casinos ) responsibility that the playing cards have zero imperfections.. not the players. ( Ivy ) To me ( personally ) it is a no brainer.

  • JC
    November 10, 2021 at 10:17 pm

    The casinos brought this upon themselves.. they are providing ” playing cards ” with imperfections.

  • CryBaby
    December 25, 2021 at 1:59 pm

    The hidden issue is that Phil Ivey is considered Black in America. Consequently using the bias legal system to harass, unfairly persecute, and do favors for the casino was allowed. Anybody (including even judges) with a lick of common sense can see that Borgata screwed themselves by using defective playing cards. Which should have been called into question if those at Borgata were taking advantage of such themselves. Looks like when they lost a bit of money, they went on a legal rampage to bully and harass some winning customers for years. Customers are supposed to always lose at their casino. How dare someone win any significant amount of money.

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