The new year saw the release of the eagerly-anticipated crime drama movie Molly’s Game, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, who made his debut foray into the world of directing. The cast featured several big-name Hollywood stars, namely Kevin Costner, Idris Elba and Jessica Chastain; the latter of which played the lead role of Molly Bloom. The film is about the real-life story of Bloom, who suffered an injury that ended her hopes of becoming a Winter Olympian mogul skier. Eventually, Bloom put her life on hold and moved to Los Angeles where she would become a host of underground poker games featuring LA’s rich and famous. It’s a fascinating story that’s captured the imagination about poker and card games more than any other Hollywood movie since Brian Koppelman and David Levien’s Rounders in 1998.
In many ways, there’s nothing quite like a poker game to bring out the cinema’s unique sense of tension and drama. You only have to think back to the classic Western movies when a motion picture of players mulling over a high-stakes hand painted a thousand words. It was the same in Rounders when Mike McDermott sat down to play against Russian gangster Teddy “KGB.” Although Molly’s Game is more about Molly Bloom’s life story than a game of poker, Texas Hold ‘em would have a significant impact in transforming her lifestyle — even though she didn’t play poker herself!
Molly Bloom’s engaging life story does, on the surface, sound like a fanciful tale made up by an author. However, flick through Bloom’s autobiography, and you’ll discover that it’s all 100 percent true. To go from a Winter Olympic hopeful to the hostess of the most prestigious high-stakes poker games in LA might sound like an elaborate plotline, but it’s a path that Bloom followed — with a run-in with Russian mobsters and the FBI along the way. The exclusivity and glamor of Bloom’s high-stakes poker games have breathed new life into the style and sophistication of the game that had shown signs of disappearing from popular culture in recent years.
Although the online poker “boom” of the mid-2000s appears to have diminished somewhat, the wider iGaming industry remains rock-solid. For instance, some of the leading online casinos have been going for 20 years, which is quite an achievement in the face of increasing legislation and regulation in places like the U.S. Molly’s Game is not strictly a poker-themed movie quite like Rounders, as it doesn’t place as much focus on poker strategy and in-game action, but it does provide an inspiration that card games are still a legitimate way of making money — both offline and online.
Chastain’s performance as Molly Bloom is the real star of the show. She typifies the entrepreneurialism and stoicism of the Hollywood culture; so much so that Chastain picked up a Golden Globe nomination for “Best Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama.” Sorkin’s directorial debut also saw him earn nominations at the Golden Globes, the Academy Awards, the Writers Guild of America Awards and even the U.K.’s BAFTA Film Awards. It’s great to see the allure of poker games being sexed-up once again.
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