Crazy Rich Asians actress Awkwafina is slated to play Cheung Yin Sun in the upcoming movie about her $20 million baccarat exploits with Phil Ivey.
SK Global Entertainment, the company behind “The Baccarat Machine” (working title), named Awkwafina as the lead this week. Wednesday’s announcement didn’t announce who will play Phil Ivey in the film.
Magazine Article Inspires Movie Producers
It’s been a year since details of the movie were made public. At the time, the working title was “The Baccarat Queen.” However, with Andy Bellin currently writing the script, SK Global has reverted to the title inspired by Michael Kaplan’s article about Sun.
Published in Cigar Aficionado, The Baccarat Machine article tells the story of Sun’s time in the gambling world. Co-CEOs of SK Global, John Penotti and Charlie Corwin, were initially inspired by Kaplan’s piece. For their project, they want to tell the story of how Sun helped Ivey beat two casinos at baccarat.
“We can’t think of a better way to start this project than by announcing that our friend Awkwafina has come on board. She is uniquely equipped to bring Kelly to life onscreen, and will infuse the role with genuine humor and humanity,” Penotti said in the announcement.
The baccarat feats of Ivey and Sun (aka Kelly) have become legendary in gambling world. During a series of sessions at London’s Crockfords Casino and the Borgata in Atlantic City, the pair won more than $20 million.
Using a technique known as edge sorting, they were able to ascertain which cards had a high value and which had a low value.
Awkwafina to Bring Baccarat Queen to Life
Sun was the mastermind behind the system, and gave Ivey the tip on how to win. In tandem, the pair worked to spot small printing imperfections on the cards. The markings were only visible in certain positions, so Ivey would ask the dealers to rotate the cards.
Once the card markings gave him the information he needed, Ivey adjusted his bets accordingly. With a way to get ahead, the poker pro eventually parlayed his money into a remarkable payout.
Eventually, Crockfords and the Borgata got wise to the system. Legal proceedings followed and, despite Ivey arguing that edge sorting wasn’t illegal, he ultimately lost both cases.
Down but not out, Ivey never received his winnings from Crockfords. However, he is still fighting a 2016 ruling that ordered him to return $10.1 million to the Borgata.
While “The Baccarat Machine” will go into the story of what transpired after the fact, Sun will be the focus. This narrative will follow a similar line to “Molly’s Game,” the movie about Hollywood’s private poker games, which was told from host Molly Bloom’s perspective.
Likewise, “The Baccarat Machine” will show the edge sorting saga through the eyes of Sun.
With the wheels in motion, Penotti and Corwin are now talking to directors and additional casting is underway. With Awkwafina (see video above) on board, the movie should appeal to all movie-goers, not just those within poker.