Phil Ivey Loses WSOP Winnings to Borgata

Phil Ivey Loses WSOP Winnings to Borgata
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  • Attreyee K. Ganguly August 23, 2019
  • 5 Minutes Read

10-time WSOP bracelet winner Phil Ivey (cover image) may be a master on the felts, but not a master of his most recent winnings. It has been confirmed that the $124,410 prize money that Ivey had won for finishing eighth in the $50,000 WSOP Poker Players Championship (PPC) earlier this summer has been transferred by Caesars Entertainment directly to the United States Marshals Service. The transfer was made in compliance to a court order following a $10 Million lawsuit that Ivey lost to Atlantic City-based Borgata Hotel and Casino.

Phil Ivey’s Legal Battles With Borgata: 2014 to 2019

Since 2014, Ivey has been embroiled in a lawsuit filed by Borgata against his partner Kelly Sun and him for allegedly cheating the casino out of $9.6 Million in the infamous edge-sorting incident.

Ivey filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit stating that he won the $9.6 Million based on his skill and even went so far as to accuse Borgata of intentionally destroying the deck of cards that were used at the Baccarat and crap tables during his gambling sessions at the casino. But to no avail, as the US District Court of New Jersey, though dismissing the fraud and Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations (RICO) allegations against Ivey and Sun, ultimately ruled that the duo had breached their contract with the Borgata by gaining an edge over the house.

In December 2016, Judge Noel Hillman had ruled that Ivey and Sun must pay $10.1 Million to the casino. Ivey had appealed the decision in July last year claiming that the enormity of the ordered damages would have an irrevocably damaging impact on his career as a poker professional. Countering this line of argument, the Borgata, in the following month presented documents before the court proving that Ivey had participated in the 2018 WSOP. Stating that if the poker icon could afford to participate in high stakes tournaments, then he could also pay the amount he owed Borgata. Understandably, Judge Hillman declined Ivey’s motion to stay the $10.1 Million judgment and certified the order as final.

Taking his case to the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Ivey filed an appeal stating that he did not have the assets required to pay the damages. Soon after that, Borgata too filed a cross-appeal with the third circuit Court of Appeals, asking the court to re-examine previous judgment that dismissed the RICO violation allegations. The casino claimed that Ivey had emptied his New Jersey bank account. They asked the court that the judgment be registered in Nevada so that they could pursue Ivey’s holdings in the state, which they claimed were roughly $100 Million.

In January of this year, Borgata’s counsel submitted a request for the judgment to be docketed in Nevada, Judge Hillman approved the request. No objection to the docketing motion was put up by Ivey’s lawyers. It took four months for the judgment to be docketed into the Nevada system.

The Issue of the WSOP Winnings

Coming to the present scenario, in June, Jeremy M. Klausner, representing Borgata, submitted additional paperwork to the Nevada District Court and filed a formal writ of execution against Ivey and his co-defendant Kelly Sun. As per the writ, Borgata is legally permitted to seize Ivey’s assets or money to recover its $10.1 Million and the same was approved the next day.

Just as Ivey entered Day 3 of the $50K PPC event as the chip leader among the 12 survivors, ensuring a place in the money, Klausner served a notice to the WSOP management. The notice informed WSOP that Borgata had obtained a writ of execution that gave the casino rights to $10.13 Million in principal, along with interest and court fees from Ivey’s assets.

Borgata Secures Phil Ivey’s WSOP Winnings

Initially, it was not clear whether WSOP had withheld Ivey’s winnings or remitted them to Borgata, but according to a Flushdraw report dated August 21, court documents confirmed that New Jersey’s Marina District Development Co., LLC, the parent company of the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, was successful in collecting Ivey’s winnings amounting to $124,410 from the $50K PPC event.

Court documents revealed an email that Klausner had sent to two executive members of Caesars’ legal team, Michelle Bushore, and N. Lynne Hughes. The text of that letter, which was titled “Caesars Entertainment/Rio/WSOP Writ of Execution,” read as follows:

“Please be advised that I represent Marina District Development Co., LLC (“Borgata”) with respect to Borgata’s case again Philip Ivey and Cheung Yin Sun. You may recall that we obtained a judgment against Ivey and Sun for $10.lM as a result of the baccarat edge sorting scheme. You may also be aware that Mr. Ivey is currently playing in WSOP Event #58 ($50,000 Poker Player’s Championship). As of the end of day 3, Mr. Ivey is the chip leader and “in the money” as one of the final twelve entrants. Today we had a writ of execution from the District of Nevada served by the U.S. Marshal on Caesars Entertainment/Rio/WSOP at the Rio in Las Vegas, Nevada. The writ was personally delivered to Jack Effel, WSOP tournament director. A copy is attached. The writ attaches any assets due Mr. Ivey from Caesars/Rio/WSOP, including his payout for Event #58 (and WSOP bracelet if he is the winner). We also had a writ of execution issued from the District of New Jersey to Caesars Interactive Entertainment, Inc. (WSOP.com). Although the NJ writ has not been served, it is in process for service by the U.S. Marshal in Camden. Please ensure that Caesars/Rio/WSOP does not make any payments to Mr. Ivey in violation of the duly served writ. When the current event is over, we or the U.S. Marshal will provide instructions for payment. Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.”

In addition to the email, Klausner also forwarded the appropriate legal documents to Caesars’ legal team. Caesars also confirmed that Ivey’s winnings from the $50K PPC had been transferred to the US Marshals Service under Nevada state law, even sharing an image of the cheque as made out to the agency.

Cheque From Caesars Entertainment to the US Marshals Service
Cheque From Caesars Entertainment to the US Marshals Service

Caesars and the WSOP also filed for and received a release from further liability in connection with Ivey’s winnings from the WSOP event mentioned above.

“In this case, this court issued the Writ of Execution served on Caesars restraining delivery of any money due to Mr. Ivey. Since the time of service of the Writ of Execution, Caesars had in its possession the total amount of $124,410.00 (the “Ivey Funds”). Caesars is not the employer of Mr. Ivey; Caesars is not a financial institution; and Caesars does not know of any additional debts due to Mr. Ivey. Thus, Caesars has delivered the total Ivey Funds to the United States Marshal Service, fulfilling its obligations and relieving itself of further liability pursuant to NRS 31.310.2.3”

As for Phil Ivey, though he was seen in action at the recently concluded Triton Super High Roller Series in London, he has no recorded cashes to his name since his eighth-place finish in the $50K PPC.

You can check out the detailed timeline of the Ivey Vs. Borgata legal confrontation here.

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