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The Baccarat Machine – Upcoming Film

In mid-February, Variety reported that New York actress/comedian Nora Lum, better known as Awkwafina, will star as Cheung Yin Sun in a film inspired by a Michael Kaplan Cigar Aficionado article. The piece published in the January/February 2017 edition of this popular magazine revolved around Sun’s and poker player Phil Ivey’s baccarat escapades. In the early 2010s, the pair would use an illegal technique (edge-sorting) to win millions playing Asia’s favorite table game at multiple US and UK casinos. If you are not familiar with this popular gaming option, you can learn the game with a baccarat live dealer online.

Ivey and Sun’s casino rampage caused quite the stir in the gambling industry and generated a ton of publicity as court processes unfolded to determine the legality of their actions. The tale of these two casino tricksters tentatively titled The Baccarat Machine should start filming late this year or early 2022.

What Do We Know About the Production?

SK Global is the merged entity of Ivanhoe Pictures and Sidney Kimmel Entertainment. They are the production company behind this project. In 2020, Fast Company named them one of the most innovative brands for that year, and they have operations in New York, Los Angeles, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Seoul. They have a proven track record that includes dozens of successful projects such as Crazy Rich Asians, Hell or High Water, In the Bedroom, Money Ball, Palmer, and many others.

Jeffery Sharp of Sharp Independent Pictures, the producer of films like The Night Listener, A Home at the End of the World, and Boys Don’t Cry, will guide this project, which Andy Bellin will write. Cinephiles may not recognize Bellin’s name, but she is the writer of 2010’s Trust starring Clive Owen and 2013’s Lovelace that featured Amanda Seyfried as legendary pornographic actress Linda Lovelace. At the time of writing, there is no director attached to helm the Baccarat Machine.

As mentioned, Awkwafina will star as Cheung Yin Sun. She first appeared on the silver screen in 2016 as Christine, in the sequel to the popular Seth Rogen and Zac Efron comedy – Neighbors. Her breakout year was 2018 when she acted in Dude, Ocean’s Eight, and the SK Global-produced hit Crazy Rich Asians. A year later, she won a Golden Globe for best performance by an actress in a musical or comedy for her role in the Chinese/American production – The Farewell. In a press release, John Penotti, SK Global co-CEO, stated that “Awkwafina is uniquely equipped to bring Sun to life onscreen, infusing the role with humanity and genuine humor.”

There is no information about who will be co-starring in the project, as no rumors are floating about potential candidates to play Phil Ivey.

What Is Edge-Sorting?

In 2012, Cheung Yin Sun and Phill Ivey won $9.6 million at baccarat tables at the Borgata casino in Atlantic City. They did so by utilizing a technique called edge-sorting. It involves predicting the value of cards by observing subtle differences in their shapes. Card manufacturers unintentionally produce decks that feature almost indistinguishable edge irregularities. The backs of the cards are identical, but the two long edges of each one are distinguishable. Closely monitoring the cards in play, a player may be able to identify cards of the same value. It is a technique that relies on having a keen eye for detail, as even super-subtle asymmetrical variations can help in card identification.

US District Judge Noel Hillman decided that this duo did not commit fraud by edge-sorting but did breach their casino contract. Hillman ruled that Sun and Ivey did not abide by the New Jersey Casino Controls Act. It prohibits the use of marked cards. Naturally, they did not mark the cards themselves but used their tiny imperfections to gain an advantage.

Ivey also lost two UK rulings in similar cases where he used edge sorting. Meaning, UK courts did not allow him to keep his baccarat winnings.

Cheung Yin Sun’s Introduction to Poker Pro Phil Ivey

In real life, Cheung Yin Sun, the character that Awkwafina will play, is a daughter of a Hong Kong factory owner who studied fashion and French at the Sorbonne. However, she showed a propensity for games of chance at a young age, using a fake ID at fifteen to go on Hong Kong gambling cruises. In 2007, Sun got arrested for an unpaid amount at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, after vouching for a $100,000-marker that a friend didn’t pay.

After getting out of jail, Sun then spent four years learning how to identify asymmetrical differences in cards. An ex-boyfriend learned of her technique and introduced her to Phil Ivey. The two hit it off, striking a partnership that would generate $30 million, most of which they did not keep due to legal reasons.

About the Author

Shelly Schiff has been working in the gambling industry since 2009, mainly on the digital side of things, employed by However, over her eleven-year career, Shelly has provided content for many other top interactive gaming websites. She knows all there is to know about slots and has in-depth knowledge of the most popular table games. Her golden retriever Garry occupies most of her leisure time. Though, when she can, she loves reading Jim Thompson-like crime novels.





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