Poker fans have longed for a good poker movie ever since Rounders, but the bar was set pretty high by that fan favorite. Many producers have tried and failed – some failed terribly – in the past decade or so.
When Molly’s Game was announced, the poker industry let out a collective sigh. Another movie, another misrepresentation of the game? No, thanks. But the more information that is revealed about the project indicates it could be a game changer, so to speak. Molly’s Game might be the one we’ve been waiting for.
Why is This Film Different?
The basis for Molly’s Game is a true story. Molly Bloom was a hostess who organized some of the highest stakes poker games in the world, and the players were either Wall Street executives or Hollywood actors. And once she was arrested, charged, and pled guilty to running said illegal poker games, she wrote a book telling all of the juicy details. The book made it to print in 2014 and was called, Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker.
The first good sign was that Aaron Sorkin signed on to adapt the book and direct the film. His debut follows a wildly successful career of writing and producing. Of course, his better known films included A Few Good Men, The American President, and The Social Network, and his television projects included cult classic Sports Night and the award-winning The West Wing.
The most recent announcements about Molly’s Game put two stars on tap for starring roles. Jessica Chastain will play Molly, and Idris Elba will play her attorney. In addition, Mark Gordon has agreed to produce the movie that will be released by Sony Pictures.
Sorkin’s reaction to the initial casting was positive. “The casting of Jessica and Idris in the two lead roles is any filmmaker’s dream come true. They’re two of the greatest actors of their generation, paired for the first time, and their chemistry will be electric.”
The Storyline: A Film in the Making
The book reads like a work of fiction but tells a real-life story featuring a who’s who of Hollywood. The best summary comes from the IMDB intro: “Molly Bloom, a young skier and former Olympic hopeful, becomes a successful entrepreneur (and a target of an FBI investigation) when she establishes a high-stakes, international poker game.”
Of the players in Molly’s games that included billionaires and athletes, the most eye-grabbing names were straight from Hollywood: Ben Affleck, Toby Maguire, Matt Damon, and Leonardo DiCaprio. The book describes games in which $2 million on the table was not unusual, and her fees for organizing the games and keeping them private and elite earned her millions — $4 million in one year alone.
Stories from the games indicate that Maguire was rude, insulting, and a terrible tipper, but Damon was an infrequent guest but as genuinely nice of a person as they came. The book also shows that many players, like Affleck, took the game very seriously, taking hours after games to talk over hand histories and improve the quality of their play.
In April of 2013, Bloom was busted. She was arrested in New York by the FBI’s Eurasian Organized Crime Squad and charged with profiting from hosting illegal poker games. Some of the games were allegedly tied to Russian organized crime, and the crackdown included the arrest of well-known poker pros like Bill Edler, Abe Mosseri, Vadim Trincher, and Peter Feldman. Justin “Boosted J” Smith was one of the younger players who agreed to a plea agreement, while others spent time in prison for their roles in the games. Most of them have since disappeared from the poker world.
"Molly's Game" is a such a well written book, about a part of the poker world I knew little about. Fascinating, poignant, honest, loved it— Erik Seidel (@Erik_Seidel) July 22, 2014
Bloom, dubbed by many in the media as “Poker Princess,” did plead guilty for a one-year probation sentence and the forfeiture of $125K.
Molly’s Game will likely feature a large cast of players in the games, and it remains to be seen who will accept those roles. Poker must, however, be a key part of the film, and with the right research, the games could feature Hold’em as well as other interesting variants like Omaha and mixed games.
The film is listed as in pre-production, so poker fans will have to wait a few years for the movie to make it to the big screen.