Casino accuses poker star of cheating

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iol news pic Britain Poker Winnings AP File photo of Phil Ivey as he waits for the next deal in the World Series of Poker at the Rio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A casino group has accused U.S. professional poker star Phil Ivey of cheating at baccarat and says the alleged scam means they don't have to pay his claimed multimillion dollar winnings. (AP Photo/Joe Cavaretta, File)

London - A major casino operator is accusing Phil Ivey, an American who is one of the world's top professional poker players, of amassing millions of dollars in winnings by cheating at baccarat.

Court papers filed in Britain's High Court by the Malaysia-based Genting Group say that Ivey and an accomplice successfully used a scam to rack up winnings of roughly 7.8 million pounds (R110 million).

The case has rocked the world of professional poker by pitting one of its most charismatic young stars against a major resort and casino operator. The game in question took place in August at Crockfords, one of London's oldest and most respected casinos.

The long-simmering dispute was first made public last month when Ivey filed a claim against the Genting Group in London's High Court. His lawyers said the casino refused to pay Ivey the money he had won playing baccarat at Crockfords, which is part of the Genting Group.

The casino responded in court Tuesday with a detailed filing accusing Ivey of cheating, saying his winnings were invalid because they were “based upon illegal acts.”

Ivey issued a statement through his lawyers Wednesday denying any misconduct and indicating he knew the casino's viewpoint when he first filed the lawsuit.

“The fact that I have issued a lawsuit in the face of what they are alleging says everything about how comfortable I am with my conduct and the validity of my win,” he said. “Any allegations of wrongdoing by Crockfords are denied by me in the very strongest of terms.”

Ivey, a 37-year-old American, has been phenomenally successful at an early age, winning numerous World Series of Poker Championship bracelets. He has attracted a large fan base and been active with several charities since winning millions of dollars at poker.

The casino group said in the court papers that Ivey's “illegal acts” void his claimed winnings. It said he was able to have a “significant advantage” over the casino by using improper means to determine whether the first card being dealt in the baccarat hands would be a powerful or weak card, allowing him to place his bets accordingly.

The court papers claim that Ivey was able to increase the size of his bets “substantially” once the scam started to work. - Sapa-AP


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