London (AFP) - A top US poker player lost his high-stakes court battle at London's Supreme Court on Wednesday, with judges ruling Phil Ivey's tactic to win £7.7 million amounted to cheating.
The 40-year-old professional gambler made his winnings at the Crockfords Club in London five years ago, playing Punto Banco over two days, but the casino withheld the sum over his use of "edge-sorting".
The technique involves spotting slight differences in the design on the back of cards to identify those being dealt, made possible when Ivey asked an unsuspecting croupier to handle the cards in a particular manner.
Five judges ruled unanimously that Ivey's actions amounted to cheating, supporting Crockfords' decision to withhold the £7.7 million ($10.2 million, 8.6 million euros) winnings.
"What Mr Ivey did was to stage a carefully planned and executed sting," said judge Anthony Hughes.
"Mr Ivey did much more than observe; he took positive steps to fix the deck. That, in a game which depends on random delivery of unknown cards, is inevitably cheating."
Paul Willcock, president of the casino owner Genting UK, praised the court's decision to dismiss Ivey's argument that edge-sorting was a legitimate strategy.
"This has been a landmark case in how the courts approach cheating in the modern day and will have wide ramifications for the gaming industry," he said in a statement.
"Crockfords' reputation for discretion, integrity and fairness has remained absolutely intact."
Ivey said the judges lacked knowledge of casinos or gambling tactics and claimed there was an "ongoing battle" between casinos and professional players trying to "level the playing field".
"It makes no sense that the UK Supreme Court has ruled against me, in my view, contrary to the facts and any possible logic involved in our industry," he said.