Edge Sorting: Controversial Casino Advantage Play

Discover edge sorting in baccarat, the Phil Ivey case, and its legality. Learn this advantage play technique and why the house always wins.
Edge sorting

Edge sorting is a gambling technique that involves identifying specific cards using imperfections on their backs, giving players an advantage over the casino. This method requires a keen eye and defective decks of cards with slightly different patterns or cuts. Although not considered illegal, casinos view edge sorting as unfair and can deny players their winnings as a result.

Phil Ivey and edge sorting

Professional gambler Phil Ivey made headlines in 2012 when accused of using edge sorting to win millions of dollars at casinos in Atlantic City and London. Ivey admitted to employing the technique but claimed it was legitimate. He and his accomplice requested a specific brand of playing cards with a distinct white-circle pattern on the back and asked to use a shuffling machine. They also had the dealer rotate all the 7s through 9s, the most valuable cards in baccarat, as they first came out of the shoe.

Legal consequences of edge sorting

Despite taking the casinos to court to claim his winnings, UK courts ruled that Ivey had no proper claim to the money. While edge sorting is not technically illegal, it is viewed as a form of cheating by casinos and can result in players being denied their winnings.

In one case, the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City sued Ivey for $9.6 million, claiming he cheated by asking the dealer to rotate cards under false pretenses. After a lengthy legal battle, the court ruled in favor of the casino, allowing them to seize Ivey’s assets.

Is edge sorting cheating?

Opinions on whether edge sorting is cheating vary. Some believe it is not cheating and that the casino is at fault for the imperfections on the cards, while others argue that cheating is cheating, no matter how it is done. Ultimately, the house always wins, and even if a player finds an edge, the casino will likely find a way to get their money back.

Future of edge sorting

Despite the risks, some players continue to try their luck with edge sorting and other techniques. This may force card manufacturers to pay more attention to their production process and avoid these types of errors in the future. However, at the end of the day, the odds are always stacked against the player, and the casino will do whatever it takes to protect their profits.