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British casino refuses to pay poker star Phil Ivey his baccarat winnings
One of the world's top professional poker players has been denied £7.3 million (HK$91.32 million) in gambling winnings from Britain's oldest gaming club, reports said, as it investigates possible misconduct.
Californian Phil Ivey was playing a skill-free version of baccarat called Punto Banco at Crockfords at Mayfair over two nights in August when he struck a winning streak after being down £500,000, the Daily Mail reported.
The 35-year-old winner of eight World Series of Poker bracelets was playing in a small private room at the 184-year-old club in the company of a "beautiful Oriental woman".
Suspicions over Ivey's win were reportedly heightened after it was discovered his companion's membership at another casino had previously been suspended, the Mail reported.
Ivey had initially bet £50,000 a hand, but was allowed to up the stakes to £150,000 after the casino management approved, reports said.
The casino, which has not publicly made any accusations, initially agreed to transfer his winnings, but has so far only paid back his £1 million stake.
Crockfords, favoured among high rollers, is owned by the Malaysian gaming corporation Genting.
Investigators from Kuala Lumpur are reportedly poring over hours of video footage and have interviewed staff, including the croupier.
Ivey has not publicly spoken about the Crockfords dispute, but a source close to the club said neither the cards nor the shoe had been tampered with.
Ivey, who has earned more than US$15 million in live tournaments, is known as the "Tiger Woods of poker".