Edge-Sorting Expert Kelly Sun Biopic Planned: The Baccarat Queen

Kelly Sun Hollywood Movie - Cheung Yin Sun Baccarat Film

Kelly Sun’s life story, complete with a revenge motive against casinos, reads like a Hollywood film.

Kelly Sun, the Baccarat Queen who gained notoreity for her role in Phil Ivey’s edge-sorting scheme at Borgata in Atlantic City, signed a deal for a feature film about her life. The producers of The Baccarat Queen — the title of Sun’s movie — will be the same team which produced the 2018 breakout hit Crazy Rich Asians.

Ivanhoe Pictures is teaming up with Jeffrey Sharp of Sharp Independent Pictures to finance the biopic on Kelly Sun’s life. The film is based on an article by Michael Kaplan, which focused on how Kelly Sun and Phil Ivey began their edge-sorting adventures.

Cheung Yin Sun, better known as Kelly Sun, is the daughter of a late wealthy Hong Kong businessman. Playing baccarat and slots, Sun lost as much as $20 million of her father’s fortune in the casinos.

During a trip in 2006 to Las Vegas, Kelly Sun ran up a debt of over $100,000 in gambling on the Vegas Strip. MGM Resorts International had her thrown in jail. While there, she was attacked by other female prisoners.

SPOILER ALERTThose who do not want “The Baccarat Queen” film spoiled should stop reading. Those who want to know a bit about Kelly Sun’s life should read on.

Sun Becomes a Baccarat Master

Determined never to lose to the casinos again, Sun decided to learn the secrets of edge-sorting, a technique for spotting minute different in playing cards in order to get an advantage in high-stakes baccarat. Over the next few years, Sun became the world’s foremost acknolwedged expert at edge-sorting.

A random encounter in an Australian casino led the Hong Kong native to partner with Phil Ivey, a world famous poker player, in the edge-sorting scheme. Ivey was fresh off a big payday in an Aussie poker tournament and struck up a conversation with Sun at the high roller baccarat table.

Global Edge-Sorting Adventures

She began to teach Ivey the secrets behind edge-sorting, which led to a series of high roller baccarat sessions around the globe in 2012. It is unknown how many casinos the two of them visited over the course of 2012, but two fateful casino sessions led to a great deal of notoreity — and two lawsuits.

The first lawsuit was filed by Phil Ivey himself. When Crockford’s Casino in London refused to pay over £8 million in winnings to Ivey and Sun, Phil Ivey sued the famous London casino. The lawsuit led to huge publicity in the United Kingdom.

The publicity was so huge that Borgata in Altantic City — owned by MGM Resorts International — figured out that Ivey and Sun had won millions using edge-sorting techiques. Borgata decided to sue Phil Ivey for the $9.6 million he won from them in two high stakes baccarat sessions from May 2012 to August 2012.

For the sake of spoilers, USPS won’t say what happened in the lawsuits, but anyone who follows gambling news probably already knows the outcome.

How Edge Sorting Works

Punto Banco Baccarat like is played in Borgata, Crockfords Casino, or Macau casinos is a game of chance. No skill or strategy is needed, besides knowing which bets have the best odds. The game mechanics change when conditions are right and the baccarat player knows how to edge-sort.

Not all decks of playing cards are perfectly designed. In the case of Phil Ivey and Kelly Sun, they knew that the Gemaco playing card company of Kansas City manufactured a series of flawed playing cards: the purple Gemaco cards. For the numbers 3 through 6, the back of the card’s design was a little off, giving the player knowledge when a certain range of cards were about to be revealed.

Baccarat High Rollers

High rollers are given tremendous perks in casinos like Borgata and Crockfords. Because Phil Ivey was playing for $50,000 a hand (later $100,000 a hand), the casinos agreed when he demanded certain game conditions. Ivey wanted to use a purple set of Gemaco cards, he wanted a dealer who spoke Mandarin Chinese, and he wanted to be able to sort the cards before the game began.

With those conditions, Kelly Sun was able to arrange the cards in a way that gave her and Phil Ivey a statistical advantage. Over the course of a baccarat session, they were likely to win big money. The casinos, thinking they had an advantage, would chase losses with more comps and ever-bigger hands. Crockfords lost £8.5 million and Borgata lost $9.6 million before the sessions ended.

Unfortunately, edge-sorting is illegal in New Jersey and the United Kingdom, so the lawsuits proved to be a dramatic situation — perhaps dramatic enough for a Hollywood movie.

About Michael Kaplan

“The Baccarat Queen” is inspired by a 2017 article, “The Baccarat Machine“, which was written by Michael Kaplan for Cigar Aficionado. Michael Kaplan has been a Las Vegas insider for decades after writing books like Aces and Kings: Inside Stories and Million-Dollar Stratgegies from Poker’s Greatest Players.

Michael Kaplan has had articles published in The New York Times, New York Post, Playboy, and Wired.