When it comes to real-life poker VIPs, you won’t find more exclusive tables than the ones run by Molly Bloom in L.A. and New York in recent years. Molly’s games included Hollywood royalty, such as Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Tobey Maguire and Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as some of the wealthiest and most influential bankers from Wall Street’s famous finance houses.
To play in her VIP games took a VIP buy-in, often as high as a quarter of a million dollars, and the stakes on single hands often rose just as high in L.A. In New York, they were often even higher, with some hands being played for millions of dollars at a time.
Molly’s world was leagues apart from the casual poker most of us enjoy when we play a few hands online from the comfort of home. These games were held in exclusive hotels, such as The Peninsula in L.A., or at the luxury private residences of the stars, with all the trimmings you would expect supplied by Molly and her huge team.
“The size of the game, in terms of how much money was at stake, the wins and losses, was absolutely insane,” explains Bloom in her best-selling book Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker. “I didn’t see how these guys could lose this much money and still want to play!”
At her own request, Molly will be played by Jessica Chastain, who appeared with one of Molly’s regulars, Matt Damon, in The Martian. Chastain is used to the hardball female lead, as we saw in the recent hit Miss Sloane. And while she is supported by an all-star cast, including the likes of Kevin Costner and Idris Elba, all of Molly’s “star players” will have their names changed to protect the innocent.
Molly Bloom made millions from running her big games and enjoyed a film star lifestyle herself, shopping at the most exclusive stores, driving luxury cars, and flying around the country in private jets. But it wasn’t set up to last. With an increasing number of players letting her down on debts, Molly was forced to change the game in a way that set her on the wrong side of the rules.
In the end, the FBI raided one of her games in 2011, and although she managed to keep going for an additional two years, Molly was eventually arrested in 2013. She entered a guilty plea and was fined $125,000, which might not seem so bad if the FBI hadn’t also seized her ill-gotten gains, leaving her with virtually nothing of her former lavish lifestyle.
These days, as well as promoting her book and the film, Molly Bloom is also keen on passing on her experience in the high stakes poker world. She wants to work with new female entrepreneurs and help them to play their cards right in order to break through the glass ceiling and beat men at their own game; just like she did for many years.