Friday, July 28, 2017

I agree with Willy Allison on the Phil Ivey/Cheung Yin Sun Edge-Sorting Case

You're right, Willy!
Over the past few years, I have gotten no less than 100 emails asking me if I view the now famous and infamous Phil Ivey/Cheung Yin (Kelly) Sun baccarat edge-sorting case as cheating or legitimate advantage play.

I have steadfastly and never changed my opinion that it is indeed cheating.

Very surprisingly, however, at least to me, is that practically every casino game-protection expert, casino surveillance director and casino-cheating expert disagrees with me. They all say that Ivey's Edge-Sorting baccarat play was honest advantage-play and Ivey and Sun did absolutely not cheat.

Well respected gaming authorities Anthony Curtis, Elliot Jacobson and Bill Zender have all stated that Ivey and Sun did nothing that constitutes cheating and that the casinos, by allowing the pair to dictate the procedure for the deal of the game, set themselves up to be victimized. So they argue that it was the casinos' own fault.

There is, thankfully, one casino game-protection expert who agrees with me. That is Willy Allison of the World Game Protection Conference. Willy and I have had our differences during the decade that has passed since my 2007 keynote speech at his conference, but this time I am solidly on Willy Allison's side.

He has stated several times emphatically that there is no doubt in his mind that Ivey and Sun cheated the casinos they victimized with the edge-sorting scam. 

With Allison now on my side, I will offer this final explanation as to why Edge-Sorting, as far as Ivey's and Sun's use of it is concerned, is indeed cheating.

If you look at the false shuffle baccarat scam, what is the difference between that and Ivey's edge-sorting?

The only difference is that the dealers in the edge-sorting did not know what they were doing while those in the false shuffle scam did.

But the key is that Ivey knew what he was doing. He was manipulating (the key word) the game without touching the cards. 

Anthony Curtis told me that since Ivey and Sun did not touch the cards, they did not cheat.

But for Willy Allison and me, the fact that they did not touch the cards does not at all mean they did not cheat or manipulate the game. They ALTERED the casinos' dealing rules and procedures in order to gain an unfair advantage over the casino.

The false shuffle does the same thing. It gives the players involved an unfair advantage over the house. They do not touch the cards either. Only the dealer does, but the players, just like in edge-sorting, know that the game is being manipulated to their favor.

Cheating by definition is any attempt to ALTER the dealing and mechanics of a game to get an unfair advantage. For instance, if a player hypnotized a dealer to get the dealer to reveal his hole card to the player, even though the dealer has no awareness as to what's happening, it is cheating by the player. So Ivey getting the dealers to unknowingly give him an advantage by turning the cards a certain way against procedure is cheating because Ivey got them to do it by illicit means, claiming it was for good luck, etc.

All legitimate advantage-play techniques DO NOT get the dealer to willingly change their dealing habits, whether or not the dealer understands that doing so gives an unfair edge to the player.


And they are rightfully inducted into my Casino Cheats Hall of Fame!

Thanks again, Willy

So now that that's decided, at least in my view, why did Ivey and Sun get caught?

I'll tell you. One simple reason: they messed with the wrong people.

The sharpest casino staffs in the world as far as surveillance and protecting their games go are the Brits...way above anyone else. I know this from my own experiences during my days as one of the world's greatest casino cheats. I have also observed that casinos throughout Europe that have lots of British employees are much stronger from a game-protection standpoint than the rest of the casinos on the continent.

Had Phil Ivey known this, he and his partner Sun quite possibly could have made $100 million by staying out of the UK, being less greedy and using some trusted unknown people. Had they used Asians, even the Brits would have needed a lot longer time to solve it, but eventually they would have. 

The Atlantic City casinos that got beat might not have ever figured it out. I'm not knocking their staffs, but like I said, no casinos worldwide have that sharpness with this kind of stuff. Perhahps that's why they were the best codebreakers in World War 2. 

The only pertinent question as to how far Ivey could have gone with his edge-sorting scam, would have been if they could find enough casinos using defective cards  All in all, Ivey's scam is the best of all-time simply because he never had any criminal risk and was sure to make millions.

And let's not forget that it was Sun, not Ivy, who was the brains of the operation. But she too overlooked what would have kept their scam from never being a scam!