ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — A casino where pro poker champ Phil Ivey and a companion won nearly $10 million playing baccarat with flawed cards wanted the manufacturer to pay it that amount in damages, arguing the asymmetrical cards led to its large losses, but a federal court judge disagreed, ruling the cards were only one of several factors.
U.S. District Court Judge Noel Hillman dealt the Borgata casino a truly bad hand on Monday, ruling that the most the casino could win at trial from card manufacturer Gemaco was the cost of replacing the cards: about $27.
It was the latest in a high-stakes legal battle now in its sixth year involving Atlantic City's top casino, the 10-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner and a Missouri card company that had already been sued in another high-stakes Atlantic City casino case involving unshuffled cards.
Lawyers for the Borgata and Gemaco would not comment Wednesday on the latest ruling, largely because each has important legal decisions to make in the next two weeks.
The Borgata claimed Ivey and companion player Cheng Yin Sun exploited a flaw in the cards' back-side pattern, enabling them to sort and arrange good cards in a technique called edge sorting.
The judge had previously ruled Ivey and Sun didn't meet their obligation to follow gambling regulations on four occasions in 2012 by having a dealer at the Borgata arrange baccarat cards so they could tell what kind of card was coming next, and he ordered them to return $10.1 million to the casino.
The order essentially returned both sides to where they were before Ivey and Sun began gambling at the Borgata. That judgment remains in effect.
The Borgata had sought similar damages from Kansas City-based Gemaco. But the judge gave the casino and the card company three choices: Have the Borgata proceed to trial against Gemaco for damages; affirm the judgment against Ivey and Sun to let them begin their planned appeal; or give the Borgata and Gemaco time to settle their differences.
When the ruling went against Ivey in 2016, a lawyer for him stressed that the judge affirmed that he had followed every rule of baccarat and did not commit fraud.
Gemaco also was at the center of a court battle involving the Golden Nugget casino, where gamblers who realized cards were coming out of the deck in a predictable pattern won $1.5 million during 41 straight hands of mini-baccarat in 2012. That case was settled without the casino suffering a financial loss, its parent company said Wednesday.