Film Review: MOLLY’S GAME (directed by Aaron Sorkin)

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by Eve Meadows on August 1, 2019

in Film


Molly’s Game is based on the real story of Molly Bloom; an Olympic Skier turned entrepreneur who made a lot of money running high-stakes underground poker tournaments. When a movie is based on a person’s life, some of the sections are likely to be exaggerated to make more dull-points entertaining. How much of Molly’s Game is actually true?

Was Molly Bloom a professional skier?

She was a professional skier. Molly Bloom had trained for years to be a skier in the Olympics, but at 23 while trying out for the qualifier, she crashed horribly, ending her career. While she was recovering, she thought about how else she could be successful, since success ran in her family with one of her brothers being a football player, and the other being a surgeon.

How did Molly Bloom get into underground high-stakes poker?

Molly Bloom took a year off of school and moved to LA in 2003. She became a cocktail waitress for real estate entrepreneur Darin Feinstein who co-owned The Viper Room. Feinstein asked her to run one of his poker games, and she did a ton of research to understand how to do it.

She was intimidated by the guests there, as they were famous television stars, politicians and A-list actors. Nowadays the prevalence of online gaming websites like Casumo has hindered the abundance of such underground gambling, with easier access to games being generally available.

Does The Cobra Lounge exist in real life?

The Cobra Lounge isn’t a real nightclub. The Viper Room is actually way more discreet; there is no neon sign with a giant pink cobra. The real nightclub is drowned in black with white letters telling you the name of the club. The discreet design in real life is likely to hide the club from the general public. The actual Viper Room became a popular celebrity hangout and was made famous the world over when actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose in 1993 there.

$3,000 tip?

Molly did actually get a $3,000 tip her first night. This inspired her to look into the world of underground poker so she could run games herself.

Was Molly Bloom’s boss a terrible person in real life?

Yes. Darin Feinstein wasn’t the worst person in real life but that part in the movie where he yells at Molly for buying “poor people bagels” did actually happen according to her.

How did she set up her first poker game, and how much was the buy-in?

When Darin Feinstein fired her from waitressing in his own games, she decided to use her contacts to start her own underground poker tournament. The buy-in initially started at $10,000 but got as high as a quarter of a million dollars.

Who played at Bloom’s poker games?

There were plenty of celebrities who played at her games, including Tobey Maguire, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Alex Rodriguez, Macaulay Culkin, and Pete Sampras. Molly only mentions the ones that were outed by the media.

How much money did people lose per night?

Thousands of dollars were lost over the years she ran these tournaments, but the most she ever saw someone lose was $100 million in one night.

Was Molly actually held at gunpoint?

Yes, this was a true story. Bloom hired a driver for extra security, and that driver introduced her to the mob. The mob offered protection in exchange for some of her profits, she refused. This was when a man showed up at her door and held her at gunpoint. This man roughed her up and stole from her and instructed her to meet the mob to discuss further protection. However, this didn’t happen.

Was she addicted to drugs?

Molly did get addicted to drugs. When Molly’s customers included Russian mob men, who stiffed her multiple times, she started taking a percentage from the pot. This alerted the FBI. Molly confirmed that the most she had ever been stiffed were a quarter of a million dollars.

How did the FBI find out about the tournaments?

Bloom didn’t vet the players correctly. She found out that a lot of the players were running illegal operations themselves. When one of them lost $5 million, he outed Bloom and a lot of celebrities. The way it unfolds in the movie is precisely what happened in real life.

Who is “Player X”?

It’s pretty evident that Player X was Toby Maguire. He came to the games often and even ran some of them, but Bloom didn’t seem to like him much. He once asked her to bark like a seal and got angry when she refused. He was also an apparent lousy tipper.

What was her punishment?

Bloom was cleared of multiple charges and never actually went to jail. She was sentenced to one-year probation, $1,000 fine and 200 hours of community service. She gave up $125,000 in her profits as part of her plea. To pay for the massive amount of debt she accumulated, she even sold her house.

Molly’s Game
2017 ‧ Drama/Crime ‧ 2h 21m
DVD and streaming available at Amazon

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