Superstar poker player Phil Ivey is owed $11.5 million by Crockfords casino in London after going on an amazing winning streaking playing the casino game Punto Banco.
Crockfords, one of London’s most exclusive gambling clubs, is withholding Ivey’s payout while they investigate what they consider is an unprecedented win.
Ivey and a female companion played Punto Banco, a skill-free version of Baccarat, over a two day period of seven hours, losing heavily at first, but winning back their losses plus much more.
The casino initially agreed to transfer the winnings directly to Ivey’s bank account but at this stage have only returned his initial stake.
Crockford has conducted an intense inquiry, interviewing many casino staff that were involved in the game, but have apparently ruled out any form of collusion.
“No imperfections, or marks, that would have given Ivey an advantage were found. In any case, Ivey at no time touched the cards,” said a source.
“The shoe was also thoroughly inspected; once again the investigators drew a blank.”
Lance Bradley, editor of Bluff Magazine, believes it is extremely unlikely that Ivey cheated.
“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.”
Bradley is unsure why the casino is refusing to pay the money out despite finding no evidence of foul play.
“They’re earning themselves a ton of publicity—but it’s not the kind of publicity you want. It’s like a run on a bank: When you withhold payment, people stop trusting you; they stop playing. Maybe it’s because with nearly $12 million involved they just want to make sure every ‘I’ has been dotted and every ‘t’ crossed. Phil’s going to get his money; they’re just making him wait.”
Ivey refused to comment on the situation when questioned at the World Series of Poker Europe.
“Please don’t talk to me. I am concentrating on my tournament,” he said.
Crockfords also refused to comment.
“As a private club we put great store on the confidentiality of the relationship between ourselves and our client and we therefore have no comment to make,” a casino spokesperson said.