Phil Ivey cashed four times at the 2019 World Series of Poker for a total of $133,398, including an eighth-place finish in the $50,000 Poker Players Championship for $124,410.
Unbeknownst to Ivey, he was basically playing his summer schedule as a horse for the Borgata.
Ivey’s six-figure cash from one of the most prestigious poker tournaments of the year was confiscated by the US Marshals Service as payment towards the more than $10 million Ivey owes the Atlantic City Casino.
The 10-time bracelet winner, along with his partner ‘Kelly’ Cheng Yin Sun, beat Borgata out of $9.6 million in a high-stakes baccarat session in 2012. Two years later, the casino realized that the duo was using a technique called ‘edge sorting,’ where they would be able to spot defects on the back of cards to gain a small edge.
The most profitable casino in the state sued the professional poker player for $15.5 million, a number that included hundreds of thousands in comps and what they were expected to win with a normal house advantage.
The judge ruled in favor of Borgata and ordered Ivey to pay $10.1 million back to the casino, a number that included a $500,000-win at the craps table later that night.
Borgata had trouble getting their money from the New Jersey native. Immediately after the ruling, the casino could only find an empty Wells Fargo account in Ivey’s name. Borgata’s legal team claimed that Ivey transferred the winnings to a Mexican bank account.
In October 2018, the New Jersey casino filed a motion to go after Ivey’s assets outside of New Jersey. The courts agreed with Borgata and a federal judge allowed Borgata to track down Ivey’s assets in Nevada.
Before the 2019 WSOP, Borgata’s legal team was unable to capture any of the owed money.
While Ivey was running deep in the Poker Players Championship, Borgata lawyer Jeremy Klausner served notice to WSOP management that they obtained a writ of execution against Ivey for his cash plus $214,518 in accrued interest. It wasn’t confirmed that the WSOP forked over the money until last week.
The latest development in the saga effectively ends the chances that the poker world will see Ivey play a poker tournament in the United States any time soon. He would need to win about $10 million on U.S. soil before he would start leaving the casino with any money in his own pocket.
With the ability to play and win in the biggest cash games on the planet, Ivey’s U.S. tournament schedule was already sparse. Before his legal battle with Borgata, he was rarely playing any American tournaments outside of the WSOP. The last time he cashed in an American tournament that wasn’t the WSOP was his ninth-place finish in the 2013 NBC Heads-Up Championship.
There are only 13 players with at least $10 million in earnings at the WSOP alone. All of them have either won the main event or have a top-two finish in the $1,000,000 Big One For One Drop. Phil Hellmuth is the only player of the group that wasn’t a main event champion after the Moneymaker boom.
With his 67 cashes and 10 titles at the WSOP, Ivey’s career earnings at the world’s biggest poker festival is still just $6.82 million. He has more than $26 million in overall tournament earnings. In a 2011 court filing stemming from his divorce, it was revealed that during online poker’s boom pre-Black Friday, Ivey was receiving about $920,000 a month from Full Tilt Poker.