"Imagine the person who the coolest people in the world think is the coolest, most intimidating, mysterious person that they know -- that they all want to hang out with. And that's Phil Ivey."
Hyperbolic, to be sure, but the description that Chad Millman, vice president, editorial director, ESPN Domestic Digital and ESPN's resident gambling expert, gives Phil Ivey at the opening of 30 for 30 Podcasts' "A Queen of Sorts" isn't too far from the truth.
Ivey, as famous as a poker player can get, is only half of the equation in the story detailing his 2012 "edge sorting" scandal involving tens of millions of dollars, casinos in London and Atlantic City, and the subsequent legal proceedings that have tied up Ivey and his winnings for almost five years.
While Ivey's issues have been well-documented, the heart of the story in "A Queen of Sorts," produced and narrated by Rose Eveleth, lies in a woman named Chung Yin Sun -- better known as Kelly -- who was Ivey's accomplice in this endeavor.
Throughout most of his career, with a few notable exceptions, Ivey has been one of the most enigmatic figures in the world of poker. He owns 10 World Series of Poker bracelets, tied for second-most of all time, and seems an almost certain bet to become a first-ballot Poker Hall of Famer when the class of 2017 is announced later this month.
For hard-core poker fans, Ivey is also known for playing in the highest stakes poker cash games in the world, both live and online. His absence from this year's World Series of Poker main event, which wraps up this weekend, was a bit stunning for the uninformed, but Ivey's reason for missing the biggest poker tournament of the year has to do with a card game of a different kind.
Pairing up with a whale like Ivey, who is well-known for spending his hard-earned poker earnings on craps and sports betting, among other gambling interests, was a perfect match for Kelly, until it wasn't. This podcast digs into Kelly's history as a degenerate gambler who lost in the neighborhood of eight figures, her time in prison because of a casino marker she got for a friend, and how it inspired her into embracing advantage play as a means of revenge.
Millman (along with writer Michael Kaplan, a pair of advantage players, casino security experts and others) breaks down some of the intricacies of the case and how everything fell apart.