Legal Blog

Business Litigation Attorney on Borgata Lawsuit against Phil Ivey

Business Litigation AttorneyOffit Kurman business litigation attorney  is a regular contributor to the site In one of his recent articles, “Sorting Out The Law Behind Phil Ivey’s Edge Sorting Debacle At Borgata,” Offit Kurman attorney weighs in on the Borgata lawsuit against poker player Phil Ivey, his associate Cheng Yin Sun, and Gemaco, Inc., a playing card manufacturer.

Ivey and Sun took to the Borgata for a series of marathon sessions of Punto Banco and Mini Baccarat, essentially the same game. If you are not familiar with baccarat, it is a pure game of chance dealt with a standard 52-card deck. The house has a narrow edge. That edge is all but negated when a player has knowledge of the next card to be dealt, knowledge it appears Ivey and Sun just so happened to have. How is this possible? “Edge sorting!”

What is edge sorting?

It is nothing more than the strategic exploitation of inconsistencies in the way patterns on the back of playing cards are cut. In this case, the playing cards were manufactured by, you guessed it, Gemaco, Inc. And if one looked closely at the back of these cards, he or she could see inconsistently cut patterns, tipping the gambler off as to the next card.

“Ivey and Sun realized this, sat for marathon sessions of baccarat, and ensured cards were turned such that certain favorable members of the deck had backs facing one way, while others faced the opposite way, according to the lawsuit,” explains Offit Kurman attorney.

Additional Issues

The lawsuit alleges several more factors:

  1. Ivey specifically requested these Gemaco cards.
  2. An automatic shuffling machine had to be used, which the Borgata tries to portray as a “cheating device” in its lawsuit.
  3. The dealer had to speak Mandarin Chinese — a language in which Sun is seemingly fluent.

“At a poker table, the introduction of conditions such as this would send up more red flags than a May Day parade in Tiananmen Square,” said Offit Kurman attorney. “But in the superstition-laced world of baccarat, these demands actually register as somewhat mild on the scale of relative voodoo.”

After four sessions at the Borgata in 2012, Ivey and Sun raked in $9,626,000 in winnings before the Borgata caught on.

The Lawsuit

“There is no real precedent for cases like this, and when the judicial system cannot find precedent, it goes in search of analogy — something that does not much help here, either, because edge sorting is not truly analogous to anything other than an honest game of three-card Monte, and that is something of an oxymoron unto itself,” explainsOffit Kurman attorney.

In total, Ivey and Sun face 12 counts in this lawsuit.

Click Here to read the article in its entirety.


Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. With over 120 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well positioned to meet the needs of dynamic businesses and the people who own and operate them. Our eight offices serve individual and corporate clients in the Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Northern Virginia markets, as well as the Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City metropolitan areas. At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we consistently maintain our clients’ confidence by remaining focused on furthering their objectives and achieving their goals in an efficient manner. Trust, knowledge, confidence—in a partner, that’s perfect.

You can connect with Offit Kurman via our BlogFacebookTwitterGoogle+YouTube, and LinkedIn pages.  You can also sign up to receive Law Matters, Offit Kurman’s monthly newsletter covering a diverse selection of legal and corporate thought leadership content.