The crime drama Molly's Game was released in December 2017. Directed by Aaron Sorkin and starring Jessica Chastain, the film offers a fascinating insight into the world of underground poker. The film was inspired by Molly Bloom, a poker princess who ran exclusive high-stakes poker games for the rich and famous. In this article, we dive into the amazing true story of this film.
Molly Bloom's fascinating story
Molly Bloom's story is rich in drama. She was once a member of the US ski team. But her sporting career came to an end when she took a bad fall and was injured during an Olympic qualifying round. Molly moved to Los Angeles in 2003 and took a job as an office assistant. Here she began her private poker-playing career. She then went on to host some of the most exclusive poker games in the world. Hollywood stars, Wall Street bigwigs, and titans of business regularly visited. She was investigated by the FBI and eventually developed a drug addiction. Also, a member of the Russian mafia put a gun in her mouth. In 2014 she published her memoir Molly's Game: the true story of the 26-year-old woman behind the world's most exclusive high-stakes underground poker games!
From rookie to poker princess
Molly took a year off before leaving for law school and moved to Los Angeles in 2003. She worked many jobs, including waiting tables at a cocktail bar, to make a living there. The most important role for her was as an executive assistant. Working for the man Reardon mentions in her book, she helped organize private poker games. The games were held at the infamous Viper Room Club. The cost of entry was $10,000 and the games were regularly attended by famous celebrities. Among them were Leonardo DiCaprio, and Ben Affleck Tobey Maguire. Bloom knew a little about the game and used Google to get a better understanding of the game. Soon after, she was running her own games and attracted a group of highly professional and cool players. In 2007, she founded her company Molly Bloon Inc.
In her book, Molly Bloom explains how Toby Maguire, despite playing little in the game, won millions at her table. He once offered her a $1,000 tip, which she would only get from him if she imitated a seal call. Her tumultuous relationship with Maguire intensified when he bragged that another player had taken their game.
Dark times in New York
After losing a game in Los Angeles, Bloom moved to New York in 2009. There she ran exclusive poker games that attracted wealthy players. During this time, she began to lose control of her life. She needed drugs to stay awake and run the games. She calmed her nerves with alcohol. By this time she describes herself as anxious and depressed. It was also at this time that she went down a false path. Her actions became illegal when she started taking interest from the bank.
Bloom describes the moment when the Russian mafia approached her in 2010 and offered her protection in exchange for payment. When she declined the offer, a member of the mafia broke into her house, severely beat her, stole all her money and jewelry, and pointed a gun at her head. Despite the desperate situation, she could not immediately refuse to organize the games. Later, in an interview, she revealed how much the situation swirled then.
"When I started earning a lot of money, I lost myself. Greed completely took over me. It's sad to see how corrupt you have become over time."
- Molly Bloom
In 2011, a game organized by Bloom was raided by the FBI. It was shut down as part of an investigation into an illegal Ponzi scheme run by a Los Angeles-based player, Bradley Ruderman. Indeed, during Brad Ruderman's investigation, the FBI became aware of the underground poker games it was running. The court case revealed that Ruderman lost $5 million of his illicit money playing poker. Several names of well-known players were made public during the trial. Among others, Toby Maguire, Nick Cassavetes, Gabe Kaplan, and even top player Dan Bilzerian sued the bankruptcy trustee for the money they had won from Ruderman.
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In 2013, Bloom was arrested. Another 30 people who were involved with her in an illegal gambling and money laundering operation went to prison. According to the charges, Molly could face 10 years in prison if found guilty of taking part in illegal gambling. Her property was seized in 2014 and she pleaded guilty to a lesser sentence. With this objection, she could face up to six months imprisonment. However, lawyer Joshua Naftalis has offered to circumvent the detention. He justified it on the grounds that Bloom played a minor role in the illegal gambling in question. Molly Bloom was given a one-year suspended sentence. She also had to pay 200 fines
Molly's Game - Book and Film
During the court hearing, the judge mentioned Bloom's upcoming book. He said he hoped she had learned her lesson and that the book did not undermine the lenient sentence she received. Bloom is planning her story as an edifying narrative.
Molly continued to refuse to reveal the names of players involved in private poker games. The stars she mentions in her book have been publicly named previously. Bloom has made her opinion clear, stating that maintaining his integrity is very important to him.
Molly wrote the book to pay off some of the huge fines she faced as a result of the lawsuit. She didn't give up on Aaron Sorkin and finally convinced him to direct her book.
The film is remarkably close to the real story. The skiing accident is accounted for, and although Player X is not clearly named, there is a clear comparison between the character's experiences and Bloom's experiences with Tobey Maguire. Even the Viper Room poker game at the Cobra Club is shown in the film. Although Bloom's lawyer, Charlie Jeffrey (played by Idris Elba) is a fictional character, the character is thought to represent Sorkin, turning his skeptical view of Bloom into respect.
The film was a commercial success and Aaron Sorkin was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. In the case of Molly Bloom, all that can be said is that the truth really is stranger than the story it inspired.
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