Phil Ivey's Edge-sorting Partner Loses Case in Connecticut

5 years ago
Close to $3 million withheld by casino won't be returned
04 Jun

The satisfaction of beating a casino at their own game by being an accomplished edge-sorter is likely priceless. Unfortunately, those players who have become experts at edge-sorting are experiencing less satisfaction when having to plead their cases before a judge and seeing those cases sorted into the dismissed pile.

That's what happened in Connecticut to Phil Ivey's edge-sorting partner, Cheung Yin Sun, when a federal judge ruled that Sun and two other plaintiffs could not proceed with a $3 million case against the Foxwoods Casino. U.S. District Judge Janet Hall tossed the case - not because edge-sorting is questionable - but because the Foxwoods is run by an Indian tribe and has sovereign immunity as a result.

The three plaintiffs, all Chinese nationals, entered the Foxwoods in December 2011 and put up $1.6 million at the mini-baccarat table, the Las Vegas Sun reported. Their edge-sorting skills allowed the trio to win more than $1 million.

But winning and collecting those winnings are not one and the same, as Foxwoods representatives cried foul and accused Sun, Zong Yang Li and Long Mei Fang of cheating. The casino kept the players' deposit and winnings, and were backed up by a tribal gaming commission ruling that found the edge-sorters to be out of sorts with existing gaming regulations.

The gamblers took the matter to federal court, seeking their deposit, winnings, and damages to boot - claiming their civil rights had been violated. Judge Hall proceeded to muck the case, which may put edge-sorting on a path toward becoming a lost art.

Edge-sorting and the details behind it found its way to poker news sites because 10-time WSOP champ Phil Ivey won millions by using the scheme at baccarat tables in London and Atlantic City while accompanied by Sun. When Crockford's Casino withheld his winnings, Ivey sued. But he lost the case when the judge found edge-sorting to be "cheating," all the while commending Ivey for being a "truthful witness."

The Borgata in Atlantic City also took issue with Ivey and Sun winning more than $9 million by edge-sorting at their casino on a handful of occasions in 2012. However, the Borgata is the plaintiff in that case, forced to initiate the action after paying out the baccarat winnings to Ivey and Sun. A judge ruled in March that the case can proceed, finding no favor with Ivey's motion to dismiss.

Edge-sorting, for those who may be unaware, consists of reading the imperfections or defects on the back of playing cards used at the table, gaining an edge by knowing the values of some of the cards in play. The defects arise in the way the cards are cut by the manufacturer.

Also tied to the scheme in varying degrees is using the same deck repeatedly after the values are known and requesting that certain cards be turned 180 degrees - in order to properly read the imperfections on the back. Ivey and his cohort allegedly claimed those requests were for reasons of "superstitution." Casinos often acquiesce when high rollers such as Ivey make requests of that nature.

An interesting note with regard to the Connecticut case, according to the plaintiffs, is that reps at Foxwoods Casino knew the trio were edge-sorters. In reports circulated among casinos, the Chinese gamblers were cited as having been successful in winning huge sums of cash in both Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

Was Foxwoods lying in wait for the edge-sorters, knowing in advance that any money won at the tables would not be paid out?

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Charles is a Chicago native and long time poker player who dusted off his journalism degree and began writing about poker following the events of Black Friday in 2011. He has written for a number of leading poker websites, offering his insights and expertise on subjects ranging from online poker leg...Read more


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