Edge Sorting: Is This Just Straight-Up Cheating, or Is There Some Clever Strategy Behind It?

February 2, 2022

Although edge sorting doesn’t count cards and isn’t technically cheating, it crosses that boundary close enough to be viewed as unfair. Casinos don’t like it when players use the tactic, as we all know from the classic Phil Ivey case. What is it, though, and how does it operate? To learn more about edge sorting and what exactly occurred to Phil Ivey, continue reading.

Why Do We Edge Sort?

Edge sorting, a strategy for gaining an advantage over the casino when playing baccarat, involves players making use of flaws in the backs of cards to help them identify certain ones. A faulty deck of cards—cards with slightly varied patterns or cuts—and some pretty amazing vision are needed for edge sorting. The designs on the backs of the playing cards appear totally regular at first glance, but they aren’t symmetrical.
On the other hand, several decks don’t utilize a traditional picture or border; instead, they employ a sequence of circles or diamonds. The cards are not perfectly symmetrical when they are cut, with one side displaying the whole circle or diamond and the other displaying only half of the design. However, merely seeing this pattern difference has no effect; you must also perform the “sorting” step. Two cards can be separated from one another when one card is turned 180 degrees. You can’t sort through cards in a casino, so you have to have a good eye or come up with clever ways to get what you want.

Edge Sorting’s Operation

Finding a casino that uses these cards is the first step for anyone wishing to profit from this flaw. While most manufacturers make every effort to avoid such errors, they occasionally occur. So, if a player is aware of the normal brand of card decks with this flaw and locates a casino utilizing them (or persuades the casino to do so), they may start executing their strategy. This method is especially effective in the game of punto banco, a baccarat variant in which you earn a significant advantage if you can distinguish huge (face) cards from ordinary ones. The player will request that the dealer rotate the face cards at various points during the game. If the dealer is uninformed of what is happening, they would typically indulge the player, especially if the request comes from a high roller. They can do this under the pretext of superstition.
Once the shoe is removed, every card will be perfectly in place. Low cards will be turned in the opposite direction as high cards, and vice versa. As a result, when the deal is made again, the player will be able to tell the difference between low and high cards (particularly sixes through nines) and place their bets accordingly. Additionally, since the machine won’t rotate cards during the shuffle, the casino must utilize an automated card shuffler in order for this method to succeed. The entire arrangement would be ruined if the dealer performed this procedure manually, giving the player no edge.

Is Edge Sorting Prohibited?

Edge sorting isn’t prohibited, although it’s unclear if it constitutes cheating. The majority of laws specify that cheating must include tampering with the game in some way. Players aren’t physically handling the cards or using any extra instruments during edge sorting, therefore there are no aspects of outright cheating.
While it is extremely unusual that someone will be charged for doing this, they are also quite unlikely to get their winnings if the casino finds out – and it appears that most courts will side with the casinos in this specific case.

How Edge Sorting Was Used by Phil Ivey

When Phil Ivey was suspected of utilizing it during high stakes baccarat games in Atlantic City and London in 2012, edge sorting gained widespread attention. He earned roughly $9.6 million over the course of four trips to the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in New Jersey. He then followed that up with a four-day baccarat spree at Crockfords in London, where he won about $10 million. When the casinos looked into these big victories, they alleged that he had cheated, although Ivey acknowledged utilizing edge sorting and said it was legal.

So how did he accomplish it?
Ivey, who played high stakes baccarat, won Crockfords for £7.7 million ($9.6 million) in 2012. Ivey only received his $1 million deposit back from the casino after they refused to pay out due to suspicions. Edge sorting was utilized by the high roller and his partner, Cheung Yin Sun, during their sessions, it was subsequently discovered. They had requested a certain brand of cards with a distinctive white-circle design on the reverse. When the shoe was finished, they requested to continue using the same decks. They also requested to utilize a shuffling machine. Their most peculiar request? The most valued cards in baccarat, the sevens through nines, were all rotated by the dealer during the opening round of games. As was already established, casinos frequently give in to gamblers’ requests for superstitions and good-luck rituals. They wanted to keep Ivey at the table and didn’t mind putting up with his odd habits, given how much money he was betting every hand. Ivey made the decision to sue them and demand full payment of his winnings.
He never once made an attempt to dispute that they were utilizing edge sorting; rather, he just thought it wasn’t unethical since it wasn’t cheating. However, the view was not shared by UK courts. They all concurred that Ivey had no legal right to the money, despite the fact that they did not accuse him of wrongdoing. They came to the conclusion that he was deliberately dishonest, requesting the dealer to rotate the cards while pretending to be superstitious, interfering with the normal course of the game.

Although Ivey’s failure to get payment for his winnings was disappointing for the high roller, it was nothing compared to the lawsuit filed against Borgata Casino shortly after the edge sorting story made news. The Atlantic City Casino sued Ivey after learning what transpired in the UK, requesting a refund of $9.6 million that Ivey earned playing punto banco at the Borgata between April and October 2012. In this game, Ivey had already received payment and Borgata was attempting to recover its money, therefore the ball was on the other side of the court. Ivey, of course, wasn’t going down without a fight, and a protracted court struggle followed.
The conflict was finally resolved in 2018 when the court ruled in favor of Borgata and authorized the casino to pursue Ivey’s assets. Ivey was obviously prepared for this, since Borgata discovered the empty account in his New Jersey account following the court decision allowing them to pursue Ivey’s money. This wasn’t anything that came as a great surprise.
But because to his performance at the 2019 World Series of Poker, when Ivey had his $124,410 in earnings taken by the Borgata casino, they were able to recover a portion of it. One of the wealthiest poker players in the world, it is assumed that his funds are not kept in US banks.

Keep in mind: The House Wins

Edge sorting may have existed in various forms for some time, but it wasn’t until lately that the method gained widespread recognition, mostly due to Ivey’s high profile case. Due to this, card makers will presumably have to pay much closer attention to their manufacturing procedures going forward in order to prevent mistakes of this nature. On this issue, public opinion is still not entirely united.Edge sorting is not improper, according to some, and the casino is to blame for this, but to others, cheating is cheating no matter how you attempt to disguise it. In the end, it turns out that you can’t actually win against the casino at its own game. They’ll probably find a method to recover their money in some way even if you uncover an edge. Of course, regardless of how slim the chances may appear, individuals have never given up trying, and they will continue to do so in the future.

Author tabriz.finance@gmail.com


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