Poker isn’t just poker. There is a difference between cash games and tournaments. There are many different variants of poker games, such as Texas, Omaha, Five Card Draw, Stud and Razz, just to name a few.
There’s also online poker, which can be categorized as a completely different kind of poker, making it quite difficult to determine who the best poker player is.
Nowadays, most poker players specialize in type of the game or another. You can’t be the best in every single poker variant, and it’s better to be the best in one sort than being mediocre in everything.
Aside from the skills required to play poker, there’s an element of luck to it.
The world’s top players agree that Phil Ivey is without a doubt the best poker player out there. Ivey has become the benchmark against which to measure greatness in poker; and if all these gigantic egos agree on this, then so be it. Phil Ivey is the best.
I’ve played poker with him and I must say it was an exciting but scary experience. I’ve also had the chance to meet him both in social events as well as on the golf course. He is quite a social, fun and entertaining guy.
As one of his greatest accomplishments, Phil Ivey won Â£7.7 million at Crockfords Casino in London playing Punto Banco, in August, 2012.
As you may already know, Punto Banco was James Bond’s favorite game. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if Phil Ivey was a secret agent himself.
The casino, owned by the multi-billion dollar Asian company Genting Bhd., refused to pay out Ivey’s winnings, accusing him of having cheated.
After fruitless negotiation for months, the case ended up in court.
And after a long wait, the judgment came back last week. The judge ruled that Phil Ivey had cheated and that Crockfords didn’t need to pay a single penny back.
Despite all this, everyone still agrees that Phil Ivey is a great player who loves casino games. Once upon a time, when Full Tilt Poker was still in full bloom, Ivey was one of their greatest partners, and even had a US$1 million credit line at every casino in Las Vegas.
He was perfectly partnered with a Chinese lady named Cheung Yin Sun, who has uncommonly good eyesight.
There was a certain mark at the back of the cards he used, sort of like a small defect in the pattern, which she could see from a certain position. It meant that she could know which card would come out.
Having some sort of information in a game where the basis is less-than-perfect information and speculation is equal to having guaranteed winnings.
Ivey’s three requirements at Crockfords were:
- The first card deck had to be made by Gemaco, a brand of playing cards,
- There had to be an automatic mixing machine, and
- The dealer had to be able to speak Mandarin.
During the game, they also asked the dealer to turn over the cards so that the Chinese could see the defect pattern.
Players are still quite shocked that Phil Ivey’s wishes were accepted at Crockfords. In retrospect, Genting Bhd. feels a little strange that it actually happened, but then again no one complained when it happened.
The judge ruled that this action was considered as cheating, basically for using the dealer as an “instrument” to gain an advantage during the game.
Opinions are sharply divided in most poker forum debates on whether this is considered cheating or not. It seems that some experienced players believe this isn’t cheating, while casual players and amateurs clearly label it as cheating.
I personally believe it wasn’t cheating, because the casino agreed to all of Ivey’s requests, so basically he didn’t act in a fraudulent way.
For others, it seems clear that this is cheating. According to them, having a defective deck is not included in the conditions of any poker game.
There is no absolute right or wrong here. But it is quite interesting to see how every person has a different perspective on this matter.
Perhaps the judge wouldn’t have labeled Ivey as a cheater if he hadn’t asked the dealer to turn over the cards. But then again, maybe a different argument would have been used against Ivey anyway.
After this incident, Phil Ivey won US$9.6 million at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City. He managed to get the money, but now there’s another lawsuit against him.
Make sure to bookmark this page to get the resolution of Ivey’s case in the near future.
But don’t hold your breath, as sometimes justice takes time. In the meantime, I promise you the freshest and most exciting news from the casino world.
Written by Ken LennÃ¡ard.
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