The poker world did receive some interesting insights into the high-stakes baccarat world in the past six years, when poker legend Phil Ivey ended up in the headlines around the two biggest and most famous lawsuits in gambling history.
It was no news that Ivey enjoyed the pit games, but when the “Poker King” had partnered up with the “Baccarat Queen” Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun in using edge-sorting to win tens of millions of dollars from casinos, these crazy amounts sparked suspicion in some casinos.
Ivey’s gambling court cases
And indeed, though edge-sorting in baccarat, just as card-counting in Blackjack, is not technically cheating, it was enough for Britain’s oldest casino, the Crockford in London, to withhold payouts “due to a breach of contract”.
Ivey and Sun had won £7.8M in 2012 at the establishment and despite the payout slip and transfer information all approved, money did not reach Ivey’s bank account. He sued in 2013, but it took until 2017 that the U.K. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the casino.
This ruling came just after the Borgata in Atlantic City had won a case against Ivey and ordered him to pay back $10.1 million, including $9.6 million of baccarat winnings. Ivey delayed payments.
The casino was not able to find assets in New Jersey to seize. But Ivey’s holdings at his home in Las Vegas are estimated at $100 million.
News broke last week that the Borgata now got green light to seize Ivey’s assets in Nevada.
The spotlight that was shone on Ivey and Sun in all this prevented them from further gambling sprees to amass more money.
A movie about the “Baccarat Queen” to hit cinemas soon
But while Ivey is battling the courts, Kelly Sun is now training students her edge-sorting technique and her story will become a feature film.
And truly, her biography reads like a movie. Her wealthy parents were stripped of all their banking fortune in China and she had to grow up in poverty. Her dad was imprisoned and she had to wear cardboard shoes.
When the government in China changed to a more capitalist one, Sun’s father was released from prison and it didn’t take him too long to become rich again, this time with a factory producing wooden goods.
Kelly Sun went on a world-wide gambling craze, blowing through millions of her dad’s money. And then while in Vegas she got introduced to the so-called edge-sorting technique. This technique requires a very sharp eye and a great memory.
Skilled gamblers like Sun identify tiny flaws in the back of cards and use this to increase the odds in their advantage.
Her rush came to a halt when she spent 21 days in Las Vegas jail for $100,000 gambling debt at MGM Resorts that wasn’t entirely her fault. During this horrible time, she formed a plan to take revenge on MGM. Once her father bailed her out, she made sure to keep using her edge-sorting technique, specifically at MGM properties like the Borgata in Atlantic City.
Sun used this in so many casinos, making so much money that it was becoming difficult for her to find games without raising suspicion. She ended up being introduced to Phil Ivey and so to higher stakes games around the world. The pair went to make around $30 million together until the above mentioned incident in London.
In 2017 the Vegas insider Michael Kaplan conducted an interview with Sun for the Cigar Aficionado magazine and this inspired filmmakers to look more closely at the story. Not just any filmmakers either, Ivanhoe Pictures, the producers of the recent hit Crazy Rich Asians.
“I feel satisfaction but not necessarily joy. This is work and I am a professional. It’s what I have trained myself to do. I do not feel bad if I lose and I do not feel emotions if I win.”
Despite this quote and her endless gambling sessions earned her the nickname “The Baccarat Machine”, the working title for the movie is her other nickname “The Baccarat Queen”.
More information on this movie about the biggest female gambler in history and the release date will be published soon.
Watch: The Day That Phil Ivey Won £7.8m From Crockfords Casino