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What's the best way to win a game of chance? Turn it into a game of certainty.

That, a British casino is charging, is exactly what world-renowned poker player Phil Ivey did in winning ?7.6 million ? about $11.9 million ? in one spectacular run of punto banco, a baccarat game. Crockfords is charging that Ivey observed tiny flaws in the game's cards, and used that knowledge to give the house a severe thrashing. As a result, the casino is refusing to pay, and Ivey has filed suit to receive his withheld winnings.

Basically speaking, the idea in punto banco is for the player to draw two or three cards with a sum total closer to nine than the dealer. At the game last August played at Crockfords' casino in Mayfair, London, Ivey and an unidentified woman were playing alone against the dealer, in full view of 10 casino cameras. Ivey started his betting at ?50,000 (about $77,000) per hand, and later raised that, with the casino's blessing, to ?150,000 (about $230,000) per hand. As in blackjack, punto banco hands can be over in less than a minute. It's a game that's supposed to be entirely based on the luck of the draw.

Over the course of three nights, Ivey and his companion dipped as low as ?500,000 ($770,000) in the red, but ended up with a substantial sum. The casino's theory: that Ivey had spotted tiny imperfections in the cards' designs, and used that knowledge to help identify when certain cards would be on the table, even when face-down.

Cards are supposed to be marked symmetrically, but a possible manufacturing defect may have left the cards asymmetrical and, thus, identifiable from the back. In addition, the cards should be disposed of after each day's play, but Ivey apparently managed to convince the casino to keep the cards in play. A player in such a case could know in advance that the cards were defects, or could notice it in the course of play.

"I was given a receipt for my winnings, but Crockfords has withheld payment," Ivey said in a statement. "I have no alternative but to take legal action." Shortly after completing play, the casino held Ivey's winnings, returning only his initial ?1 million stake.

Lance Bradley of Bluff Magazine told ABC News last fall that Ivey has a sterling reputation. "There's nothing in his past that would hint at his being a cheater or unethical in any way," Bradley said. "People say he's arguably the best poker player in the world; but, really, there's no argument: He's number one. He's known both for his skill and for his love of high-stakes games. He loves anything where there's some sexiness at stake."

Crockfords, meanwhile, has pledged to defend its decision. The casino is now having tapes of the night scrutinized by specialists in fraud prevention.

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even if its card design defect, it still the fault of the casino of USING such card.

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casino is clearly at fault. did they agree not to change decks? yes. how is it his fault? its not.

i want to know how this developes.

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"He loves anything where there's some sexiness at stake."

LOL, Sounds like a right nipple.

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Seems like a tough case - they need to prove that the cards were distinguishable AND that the player used that fact to cheat.

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^ And, was the guy near-sighted ?

I honestly would be hard pressed to notice card defects, let alone profit from them.

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The card had a distinct design on the back side, so regardless of what side was face up you could tell what it was. That's like playing with all of the cards from the deck face up for you to see what they are and them expecting you to not base your decision off of what cards you see on the top of the deck.

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So when he was in the hole of $700k.. could he have refused to pay the casino?

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Seems like a tough case - they need to prove that the cards were distinguishable AND that the player used that fact to cheat.

It's still the casino's fault. It's not cheating unless he does something to alter the game. Just observing cards the casino deals out is not cheating.

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Unless they can prove how they cheated I guess its an open and shut case.

Just observing cards the casino deals out is not cheating.

Card counting is one they dont like

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That's the best they could come up with?

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Unless they can prove how they cheated I guess its an open and shut case.

Card counting is one they dont like

They might not like it, but counting cards is not illegal, they "discourage" it, or will ask you to leave, they also prevent you from having any electronics or anything, but counting cards is 100% legal.

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casino's fault for not following their standard rules of switching the cards out after they were used....

they were stupid, he was smart, but not a cheater

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Unless they can prove how they cheated I guess its an open and shut case.

Card counting is one they dont like

Yeah but when you are counting cards you are doing something outside of the casino control (the only thing they can do is ask you to leave i think).

In this case if what the casino says is true then he was able to pull this off only because the cards used by the casino was defective/used. Replacing the cards would have solved the issue.

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Wow, how ignorant can you be to not change the cards... This place deserves to lose the money. I think the pit bosses need to go back to casino 101.

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