What Happened in “The Baccarat Machine” Case?

    You would rarely see an article in a major sports magazine that begins with the words “Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater,” but it also isn’t every day that a card shark spends four years planning her vengeance against a major casino company and creates a team with one of the game’s best players to do it. What makes it more fascinating is that they ended up succeeding in their goals. They got away with it, they were sued but ended up settling on an appeal – which is a win. Are you intrigued? Well, let’s find out their story.

    Who is Cheung Yin Sun?

    Cheung Yin Sun is a factory owner’s daughter from Hong Kong. She attended the Sorbonne to study French but then changed her major to gambling. She was an excellent gambler up until an event in 2007 at the MGM Grand, where she gave a friend $100,000.

    Sun spent six months in Paris when her buddy failed to reimburse the casino, she returned to the United States and was immediately detained. She then spent three weeks in jail until a member of her family paid off her gambling debt. At that time, she decided to hold MGM accountable, as she told reporter Michael Kaplan.

    Her Path to Success

    Later, to gain some sort of an advantage, she spent the following four years researching the patterns and subtle asymmetries of playing card backs. She would persuade dealers to turn cards over for “luck,” while in reality, she was identifying the cards based on these minute variations, which were about 1/32 of an inch wide. She was attempting to recognize all the crucial baccarat cards just by noticing these imperfections.

    Sun was successful, but she wanted a big-time player to put up even more money to win a lot of money. She was succeeding at MGM locations all over the world. Her winning strategies were discovered via surveillance cameras, but casinos did little to stop her.

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    Sun and Phil Ivey

    When her buddy learned about everything, she accepted his offer to set up a meeting with legendary poker player Phil Ivey in exchange for a 10% stake. She later met with Ivey.

    The two traveled the world and made roughly around $30 million playing poker. Ivey put up the cash and played the cards while Cheung observed the deck and would let Ivey know which card was about to come out of the shoe before he made his wager. The two of them won over $30 million while traveling the world.

    Then, in April 2012, they traveled to the Borgata, where Ivey requested and was given a private gaming area, the right to have a visitor (Sun) present, an automated card shuffler, and a dealer who knew Cheung’s language.

    All of them were crucial for Sun’s mastered approach known as “edge sorting.” In Chinese, Sun would tell the dealer to face the cards one way or the other for “luck,” where “luck” in this context referred to Sun’s ability to predict which card would come out of the shoe next since the shuffler maintained the cards facing in the “lucky” manner. The two of them earned close to $10 million throughout four visits to the Borgata.

    At Crockfords, the two repeated their actions, but this time they bet £150,000 each hand. The management rejected to pay out the £7.8 million that the two won. They instead gave Phil Ivey his original £1 million cash back.

    Ivey decided to sue Crockfords. It then alerted Borgata about the edge sorting. The Borgata was not happy when it learned about the whole deal, filed a lawsuit, won the initial legal battle, and last year reached a settlement on appeal.

    According to Ivey: “ It is a matter of principle. Casinos are okay to accept any conditions so long as they have the advantage. The player with an advantage will come out with empty pockets.”


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