Awkwafina is ready to make a fortune as The Baccarat Machine. The Farewell actress is set to star in a film based on the true story of Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun, the most successful female gambler in history. Sun’s talent for baccarat helped her score tens of millions in less than a year with the help of legendary poker player Phil Ivey. The film comes from SK Global, the folks behind Crazy Rich Asians.
The Wrap reports that Awkwafina will star in The Baccarat Machine, based on “the true story of Kelly Sun, a young Chinese woman who turns a painstakingly developed talent and obsession for payback into beating the system at their own game. With major casinos conspiring to bar her from their properties, Sun partners with the international “King of Poker” Phil Ivey in order to take down the system through subterfuge, ingenuity and pure daring, resulting in one of the most ingenious legal gambling runs ever documented.”
The film is inspired by Michael Kaplan’s article in Cigar Aficionado, which you can read here. Here’s some insight into how things went down:
The pair won their money by employing a technique known as edge sorting. It involves capitalizing on casinos that use playing cards in which the edges on either side are unevenly cut by fractions of an inch. In the game of mini-baccarat, in which players do not touch their cards, Kelly employed social engineering techniques to convince Chinese-speaking dealers to turn certain cards “for good luck.” It allowed her to set the decks so that she could recognize the game’s key cards: sixes, sevens, eights and nines. Winning millions becomes a foregone conclusion when you play the Kelly way.
Regarding the film, SKG’s CEO John Penotti said: “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. Along with our partners at Sharp, we’re thrilled to bring this unbelievable story to the screen.”
Awkwafina proved with The Farewell that she has serious acting chops, not just for comedy but drama as well. After seeing her in that film, I immediately wanted to see her in more things, and I’m glad she’s landing more work now. It can be a little tricky to make card playing cinematic, but plenty of filmmakers have figured out ways around that, and hopefully, this one will, too.
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