Crockfords Witholds Payment To Poker-pro
Funds won by professional poker player, Phil Ivey are being withheld by Crockfords casino. After winning £7.3 million in a game of Punto Banco at the exclusive Mayfair gambling club in London, a probe has been launched to investigate how Ivey was able to win such a substantial amount against the house in a game based on chance.
The 35 year old Las Vegas pro was playing at Britain’s oldest casino, accompanied by a female friend, in a private game on the 25th and 26th August. A variation of baccarat, the Punto Banco game sees players attempt to hold cards to calculate a combined value as close to nine as possible. The game is favoured by high stake players, with Ivey betting up to £150,000 on a single hand. Due to the skill-free nature of the game, suspicions were aroused when Ivey embarked on a multi-million pound winning streak.
Phil Ivey is believed to be the sixth highest earner in poker tournaments across the world, having recently won £10 million in a single Las Vegas tournament. This has led Barry Carter, author of the book The Mental Game of Poker, to believe that it is the high stake nature of the game which led to his success. “I don’t think for one minute he cheated. It is almost impossible for him to have an influence in a game of pure chance like Punto Banco,” said Carter. “Just because it’s statistically unlikely doesn’t mean you can’t have such a long winning streak – it is the nature of probability.”
On the first night of the game, Ivey allegedly was down by around £500,000. However, after recovering from these losses he left the table with £2.3 million in winnings. At the end of the second night of play, the total amount won by Ivey had risen to £7.3 million.
After initially agreeing to pay Mr. Ivey the winnings via a bank transfer, Crockfords have only returned his original stake amount of £1 million. The casino has also informed the Gambling Commission that they are refusing to pay the funds. In response to this, a spokeswoman from the commission has stated: “Licensed operators are required to have a clear policy on dealing with complaints, including disputes.”
Investigators from the Malaysian owner organisation, Genting, have travelled from Kuala Lumpa to London in order to examine the decks, review surveillance footage and interview staff who were working during the nights Ivey played.
“These casinos are used to big players and it is not unusual for £12 million or £15 million to change hands,” commented a former manager of leading gaming clubs in London. “There could be any number of things the casino might suspect, but they do not stop payment without a valid reason.”
Crockfords have refused to comment on the issue. To keep up to date with the latest developments in poker check out poker.co.uk.
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