Phil Ivey, card counter?
As crazy as that sounds, that appears to be what a London casino is accusing him of. From YardBarker:
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Ivey recently won $11.7 million playing a game called Punto Blanco at Crockfords, an upscale casino in London. The game involves no skill and is simply won and lost by the cards the dealer hands out, and Crockfords is reportedly witholding the money Ivey won on the game after he went on a massive heater.There's a special bit of unintentional comedy in this casino being named "Crockfords", but I digress.
Ivey apparently requested that the money be deposited into his bank account, but Crockfords has only returned his original bankroll of $1.6 million. The Daily Mail reported that Phil initially lost $800,000 when he began playing the game, but then he and a female companion went on a two-night hot streak. The lady with whom he was gambling reportedly had her membership revoked by another casino previously.
Investigators have flown to London to speak with employees from Crockfords and review surveillance cameras. Ivey and his lady friend reportedly never touched the cards, and the situation is said to have turned into an “increasingly tense stand off” with lawyers from both sides working to sort through it.
Ivey is a renowned gambler. And I don't mean that in the sheltered, playing-poker-is-gambling frame of mind; Ivey actually gambles, playing games of chance like craps (and, apparently, Punto Blanco) for high stakes as often as he plays skill games like poker. Anyone with deep financial resources and an immense amount of time spent playing games like these is due to eventually go on a multimillion dollar heater. So I'm not sure what Crockfords is looking to prove; they simply were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And while the history of this mysterious companion seems to lend to a theorized conspiracy, Phil Ivey ain't Phil from The Hangover. This guy gets his thrills from the game, not from the money. And if you rig the game, you erase that thrill. I find it hard to believe Phil Ivey would find any fun in playing a game that he knows he's assured of winning.