So What’s The Deal at Crockfords? Who’s Stealing £7m- The Casino or Phil Ivey?

Posted on October 9th, 2012

This week’s big story (casino related anyway) was the £7m win that a Mayfair casino thinks smells fishy- and is refusing to pay out the winnings.

It concerns big league professional poker player Phil Ivey who was playing the casino game of choice for high rollers: Punto Banco (a variant of baccarat).
But posh casino Crockfords is refusing to pay up and has called in investigators to dig through what went wrong (for them) at the tables. So, who’s right?
Mr Ivey and Crockfords will square up in the High Court to play some more poker- this time the dealer will be wearing a wig.

High roller Phil Ivey bagged £7.3million, to be exact,  playing baccarat at Crockfords, one of the most exclusive private casinos in the world that is nestled in Mayfair, London. But the casino has said “non”.

The high roller in question was playing at a private table with a bankroll of £1 million sitting in the casino’s bank account. Phil Ivey
is one of the best poker players in the world, and was accompanied by a stunning Oriental female friend for luck.

Over a couple of nights in August, the 35-year-old West Coaster played Punto Banco and hit a purple patch that bagged him an amazing £7.3 million.
BUT, Crockfords has refused to pay up, and has called in a team of private investigators from Malaysia, where its owner, the Genting Casino Group, is based.
They have spoken to staff and watch hours of  footage from the CCTV cameras. They have checked out the cards and dealing shoe, but no sign of any funny stuff was found….alledgedly
The casino has given Mr Ivey his initial £1 million back, but the dispute over the winnings is now turning ugly. Bizarrely, the police are not thought to have been contacted, suggesting that Genting don’t have much to go on.

Punto Banco is a game that is ever popular with high rollers because of it’s low house edge. The player is pitted against the banker, and tries to get a score as close to 9 as he or she can. It is very hard for a player to ‘rig’ the outcome.

The casino initially said it would pay out, but stated that the Bank Holiday Monday would delay the payment. The mystery is why it has now decided to hold on to the winnings.The Oriental lady who sat with Ivey has had her membership of another Mayfair casino pulled (they run a tight network these mayfair Casinos), So it looks like a show down in the High Court is the only option.

Fascinating! This at least gives us a peephole into the world of high-stakes professional gamblers — it could be straight out of an Ian Fleming novel.
Mr Ivey is loaded, so he can afford some pretty awful swings in luck before hitting a statistically rare run of winning hands. He was betting £50,000 a hand, and he went £500,000 into the red before his luck changed.

It is believed that the casino will have to pay up at some point.

So who’s right? Well, on the casino’s corner, Ivey may have been card counting, a ruse where you keep a close watch on the cards that have been dealt and memorise them, so you know what remains. This can give you an edge, or at least reduce the casino’s edge.

Don Johnson, another American professional gambler (no he wasn’t in Miami Vice), strikes fear into the management of casinos around the globe. He is already banned from two Las Vegas casinos for card counting — in 2010 he won more than £4 million from 2 Atlantic City casinos playing blackjack.

Arguing for Phil Ivey, I would say that Baccarat is an incredibly difficult game for the punter to get an edge on as it is so simple. The bottom line is, it’s extremely unlikely.

So why on earth is Crockford stalling?

I think at some point, Genting are going to realise that it would be cheaper to pay up than risk the bad publicity. This isn’t going to encourage any other high rollers to play at the club, and that’s how they make their lion’s share of their money. If their argument proves to be a Crock of Sh*te, then their reputation will suffer.

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