Monday, April 28, 2014

Casino Legal Expert I. Nelson Rose on Phil Ivey Cheating Case

One very important voice on the Phil Ivey baccarat edge-sorting casino-cheat case is that of I. Nelson Rose, an independent attorney who has testified in many casino and poker cheating cases, many of which have come down to a simple definition of what constitutes casino and poker cheating and what does not. Rose recently gave an interview about Phil Ivey and the cheating implications.

The man known as the world's foremost expert on gambling law tells in an exclusive interview that what Phil Ivey did while playing baccarat at the Borgata casino is not cheating because, "It's up to the casino to make sure that there are no readable markings on the backs of cards." on Tuesday spoke with I. Nelson Rose, an attorney and professor at Whittier Law School in California who teaches classes in gambling law and is considered the world's top expert on the subject, about the Phil Ivey case.

Ivey last week was sued by the Borgata casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA, for millions of dollars in baccarat earnings that he won at the casino two years ago and that Borgata claims he won fraudulently by using a cheating scheme called edge sorting.

Edge sorting involves noticing subtle differences in the designs on the backs of playing cards and using that information to recall values of cards and bet accordingly. "Edge sorting has been around for decades," Rose told "I was called in as an in a marked card case and one of the first things I did was look to see if there was a pattern to the design on the back of the cards. "Cheats can easily create a deck of cards they can read by buying many decks of cards with a simple pattern, like diamond shapes, and then creating a single deck where, say, only the ten-count cards have full diamonds in the corners." But in a casino, he said, it is the responsibility of the casino to make sure everything in a game is ship-shape, not the player.
"It is up to the casino to make sure that there are no readable markings on the backs of cards," Rose said. "I remember touring the Sands casino in Macau the month it opened and looking into the room where employees destroyed cards after a single use. Ivey used information available to all players," he said. "By definition that was not cheating."

Rose's interpretation of the case may carry some weight if and when the lawsuit sees a courtroom.
Rose, 64, has testified as a prosecution or defense witness in dozens of criminal cases involving gambling and has also testified in numerous civil lawsuits involving gambling. He has also authored several books about gambling and the law, writes a gambling law column for his website and there is a waiting list to enroll in his classes, which draw prospective law students from around the world and are the only gambling-specific law courses offered at any American university or college.

My take: Pretty good view but I must make one clarification of Rose's statements. He says that edge-sorting has been around for decades, but he did not point out that it has never before been brought to light with unaltered cards coming out of the factory, at least to my knowledge.