In the latest twist in the Phil Ivey v Borgata legal case, the casino wants the card manufacturer Gemaco to repay the $10.1m Ivey won as a result of using flaws in their cards to gain an edge over the casino.
The tools that made the Toyota Production System (TPS) so successful, spread from the bland world of car manufacturing to business sectors the world over thanks to the popularity of The Machine That Changed The World by Daniel Roos, James Womack, and Daniel Jones.
One of these tools was The Five Whys, more commonly known as Root Cause Analysis. Using the metaphor of gardening, root cause analysis is the theory that to prevent a weed from reappearing you had to remove the roots. If you were to remove the ugly head of the plant, eventually it would grow back.
Users of this model called the removal of a defect Poke Yoke.
And if The Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City had gone through Root Cause analysis after their discovery that Phil Ivey & Chen Yin Sun had systematically taken them to the cleaners at the Baccarat tables, winning $10.1m in 2012, they would have ended up with the card manufacturers, Gemaco.
The Borgata did everything in their power to allow Ivey to lose millions of dollars playing a game that the casino assumed they had an edge in. By providing Ivey with Mandarin speaking dealers, allowing the cards to be turned, by providing them with a segregated table, they were providing value for their customer.
Ivey was only playing because Chen Yin Sun told him of the marked Gemaco playing cards, and how she could read them (known as edge sorting) to give Ivey an edge. Ivey was the whale; Chen Yin Sun was the shark.
But none of this would have happened if Gemaco’s playing cards weren’t defective. If you want to use Poke Yoke to ensure this never happens again, Borgata doesn’t change their stance of trying to provide value for their customers; you can’t politely ask players not to use edge sorting techniques; but you can ensure the cards are flawless. And it’s for this reason, Ivey might hit an incredible one-outer on the river in his legal case with the casino.
The last time I reported on this case, Ivey’s legal team were pushing for the case to fly to the kingdom of the US Third Circuit of Appeals after a federal judge ruled that Ivey and his accomplice’s actions violated state regulations on what constitutes a fair game between player and casino.
But the legal system has blocked that path until the Borgata has settled their legal dispute with the card manufacturers, who are asserting that the blame lies with their faulty cards. The Borgata legal team is arguing that Gemaco knew their cards were defective and sold them regardless, allowing Ivey and Chen Yin Sun to win the $10.1m.
So what next?
If Borgata wins their case against Gemaco, will the judge order the card manufacturer to pay Borgata $10.1m, and if so, does this mean, that Ivey gets to keep his loot?
The case is becoming more confusing than the first time you stare at a naked eunuch.
Ivey is at war with Genting in a similar case in the UK. The Supreme Court hearing took place 13 July, but there has been no word on a final verdict of the fate of the £7.7m both him, and Chen Yin Sun won playing punto banco in Crockfords Casino.