The sweat on the bulldog steams under the morning sun as it positions for a poo. Doggie bag in hand, you wonder what Tom Cruise, The Queen of England or Phil Ivey is doing in that exact moment?
FIve years ago, had the poker community decided to put on a play of the old Greek Gods, Ivey would have been a shoo-in for the role of Zeus. There wasn’t a poker player alive who would argue that Ivey didn’t have an anaconda grip on the game, both live and online. The man was a battering ram, and the doors he broke down contained millions of dollars.
Then one day, Ivey’s interest turned to Baccarat.
At some point in time, Cheng Yin Sun walked into Ivey’s life with the idea of using edge-sorting tactics to fleece the world’s swankiest casinos for millions of dollars. It was a sure-fire way to make a fast buck, and best of all, they were doing nothing wrong.
Then it all went to shit.
After a spree in London where the dynamic duo gnawed away at Crockford’s Casino to the tune of £8m, the security team grew suspicious. After an internal investigation Ivey’s money remained in Crockfords, the casino took him to court, and won, successfully arguing that edge-sorting is not a legal tactic.
3.5k miles away, and a smile emerged on the faces of the higher-ups working at The Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa. Ivey had won $9.6m playing baccarat at their gaff. A second legal assault began, and once again the result was akin to a spider being set upon by a bunsen burner.
Crockford’s debacle was one thing. The Mayfair casino never gave Ivey the money, so he never spent it. The Borgata beating was a different kettle of fish. Ivey is a gambler, and at the stakes he plays, $9.6m comes and goes like beads of sweat on a bulldog’s brow as it nestled down for a poo under the searing heat of the sun.
Ivey was in trouble.
The Return of the King
If you’re Phil Ivey, what’s the best way to earn $10.1m to repay the Borgata?
You do what you do best.
In the summer, Ivey made his return to the spotlight of live tournament poker when he competed at the World Series of Poker (WSOP). There were no confetti or winners photos. But he did run deep in the $50,000 Poker Player’s Championship (PPC), coming into the final day with the chip lead.
Ivey would ultimately bust in eighth place for $124,410, but he never got to see any of that money. The Borgata legal team led by their attorney, Jeremy Klausner, successfully organised for the WSOP to hold onto Ivey’s winnings.
On August 30, Ilya Trincher and Daniel ‘Jungleman’ Cates, hired an eloquent legal speaker to file an objection to the Borgata’s seizure of Ivey’s PPC funds. The central premise of the opposition: most of those funds didn’t belong to Ivey.
Some time ahead of the PPC, Trincher, Cates and the man who poker fans over the world have marble busts of his face in their hallways, agreed upon a backing deal. Should Ivey make money, then the $50,000 would return to Trincher and Cates, with 50% of what’s left heading in the same direction. Ivey earned $124,410 – $50,000 = $74,410/2 = $37,205.
With Ivey earning $37,205, Trincher and Cates should have received $87,205, but instead, it sits next to a large amount of cocaine in a vault somewhere in the U.S.Marshalls Office.
Salute to Haley Hintze here, because poker’s legal expert has since learned that Ivey’s legal team has filed a supplement to the Trincher/Cates’ objection. The supplement asserts that all of the money should return to Ivey and his backers. Klausner is not licensed to practice law in New Jersey, and he didn’t receive the proper court permission to file the writ of execution served upon the WSOP.
The case continues.
Disembodied voices shout, “Ivey! Ivey! Ivey!”
The mightiest man on Mount Olympus once earned millions of dollars playing cards – someone please throw him a deck.