Card-loving movie fans are in for a double Hollywood treat it seems, with news that Willem Dafoe is set to star in casino revenge thriller The Card Counter. Moreover, a film version of Phil Ivey’s baccarat scandal is in the works…
First up, Dafoe will join Oscar Isaac, Tiffany Haddish and Tye Sheridan in what has been described as ‘the World Series of Poker meets Abu Ghraib’ – with legendary director Martin Scorsese as executive producer.
Scorsese was the director of the 1995 classic Casino, starring Robert De Niro, Sharon Stone, and Joe Pesci, and knows how to bring the gambling world to life on the big screen.
Director Paul Schrader, who worked with Scorsese on classics such as Taxi Driver and Raging Bull, said of The Card Counter idea: “In my films, I’ll sort of combine two worlds that seem to have nothing to do with each other.”
It’s certainly a novel idea. Sheridan playing a young card shark who is seeking revenge on Dafoe, a military colonel, with Haddish as a ‘mysterious gambling financier’ who bankrolls a casino run that ends with a WSOP showdown.
For poker fans, of course, The Card Counter title grates a little, a name more suited to the world of blackjack and baccarat.
That latter game is the subject of another film. The Baccarat Machine covers the exploits of Phil Ivey and his edge-sorting sidekick Cheung Yin ‘Kelly’ Sun.
Lately news broke that Golden Globe-winning actress Nora ‘Awkwafina’ Lum has been cast as Sun. Her incredible eye for detail helped Ivey to win $10million each from The Borgata and London’s Crockford’s Casino.
We all know how that ended, Ivey losing multiple court cases on both sides of the Atlantic and being hounded by the Borgata throughout the USA.
The Baccarat Machine, however, will see the focus firmly on Sun’s incredible life story.
There is much more to the 40-year old’s life than just the ‘Ivey incidents’, the interview revealing that an underage Sun went to Macau with just $1500 and a fake ID in her pocket and ran it up to $150,000 playing baccarat.
“I bought myself a nice Rolex,” she says, and later gave it away to a random student in Paris. Who remarked on how nice the watch was.
‘Okay. Gift to you.’ I gave that person my watch,” she revealed.
Kaplan’s account gives a clear view of where the movie title came from. Sun stated: “I’m very happy to beat the casinos, but not excited. I feel satisfaction but not necessarily joy.
She added: “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.”
Such a description of card-playing could well have come from Ivey himself. Yet there’s no word on who will play the poker legend in the movie.
With the success of Molly’s Game just a couple of years ago, the world of poker, casinos, and gambling seem to be the ‘in-thing’. That’s great news for cardplayers.
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