Professional poker player under scrutiny after extraordinary run of success at game of chance

 

Britain's oldest casino has refused to pay out £7.3m to a world-beating poker star and has launched a probe into how he took on the house at a skill-free game of chance, and won.

Crockfords, an exclusive gambling club in Mayfair, London, is witholding the winnings accrued by the professional Las Vegas poker player, Phil Ivey, at a private game of Punto Banco in August.

Mr Ivey, 35, was playing with a female companion when he started to enjoy a winning streak at the card game, in which players aim to hold cards with a combined value of nine or closest to nine.

Mr Ivey bet up to £150,000 a hand while playing in a private room at the Curzon Street casino on 25 and 26 August. The North American variant of baccarat, Punto Banco is favoured by so-called "high-rollers" as it offers marginally better odds than roulette.

Crockfords has informed the Gambling Commission that it is withholding Mr Ivey's winnings. The commission said it could not comment on specific details of the case, but a spokeswoman added: "Licensed operators are required to have a clear policy on dealing with complaints, including disputes."

Crockfords was founded in 1828 and is the oldest casino in Britain, but is now owned by the Malaysian gaming corporation Genting. It had initially agreed to transfer the winnings to Mr Ivey's bank account, but so far has returned only his original £1m stake.

Investigators from Genting have flown to London from Kuala Lumpur to interview staff – including a croupier working on the nights Mr Ivey played – and to review surveillance videos and examine the cards used.

Mr Ivey, who is often referred to as the "Tiger Woods of poker", is thought to be the world's sixth-highest earner from tournaments, amassing winnings of $14.6m (£9m). He was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Crockfords would not comment, citing the "confidentiality of the relationship between ourselves and our client".

Mr Ivey is thought to have initially incurred losses of almost £500,000 before he recovered, ended the first night £2.3m ahead. That total rose to £7.3m by the end of the second night.

A former manager at some of the leading London gaming clubs commented yesterday: "These casinos are used to big players and it is not unusual for £12m to £15m to change hands. There could be any number of things the casino might suspect, but they do not stop payment without a valid reason."

Punto Banco: how to play

Punto Banco is usually played by groups of up to eight players who wager that either the player ("Punto") or banker ("Banco") will win the hand, placing their bets on the appropriate area of the gaming table accordingly. Its appeal rests on pure luck as each new card is drawn by the croupier from a shoe containing four, six, or eight decks of cards. Each card drawn can radically alter the dynamics of the game, as in blackjack. The aim is to hold cards with a count of nine or closest to nine. Unlike its sister games chemin de fer and baccarat, as played by James Bond, there is no element of choice or skill.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift crawls through the legs of twerking dancers in her 'Shake It Off' music video
musicEarl Sweatshirt thinks so
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Our resilience to stress is to a large extent determined by our genes
science
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Pornography is more accessible - and harder to avoid - than ever
news... but they still admit watching it
Arts and Entertainment
The eyes have it: Kate Bush
musicKate Bush asks fans not to take photos at London gigs
News
i100
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing & Commnunications Executive, London

£30000 - £34000 per annum: Charter Selection: This highly successful organisat...

Quantitative Developer

£700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

Web developer (C#, MVC4, HTML5, CSS3, Javascript, Jquery)

£30000 - £44000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Web deve...

Senior Automation QA Engineer (Java, Selenium WebDriver, Agile)

£40000 - £65000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Senior A...

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment