It’s been getting rave reviews and features an impressive cast, but are you aware of the incredible true story behind acclaimed drama Molly’s Game?
With an ensemble including Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty), Idris Elba (The Dark Tower), Kevin Costner (Hidden Figures) and Michael Cera (Juno), it follows Molly Bloom’s (Chastain) rise to running the world’s most exclusive high stakes poker club, and all the danger that followed. Oscar-winning writer-director Aaron Sorkin has described Bloom as the heroine of the movie, with the plot portraying a powerful woman who worked her way to the top of a male-dominated and illicit industry.
Based on Bloom's own memoirs released 2014, Molly’s Game is inspired by shocking true events, but is not a story that is considered common knowledge by many. For those who want to know more, we’ve put together the key facts you need to know about the rise (and fall) of Molly Bloom.
The origin story...
Originally destined for stardom as an Olympic-class skier, then at Harvard Law School, Bloom had big aspirations for her future. But a freak accident changed her plans, and took her life down a very different path. Finding work as a cocktail waitress in LA it seemed as though she would lead a simple life, before one offer changed everything.
The rise to power...
On her first night working a poker game, Bloom did nothing more than serve drinks. After earning more than $3000 in tips during that single game, she began to aim higher. As someone who had no experience playing poker – she has admitted to learning all the terms through Google – she certainly wasn’t who you would expect to be running an illegal gambling ring.
But against all the odds, it wasn’t long before Bloom’s games grew in power, with stars including Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire in frequent attendance. The star presence is glossed over in the film however, with Sorkin choosing to focus on Bloom’s story without the added celebrity references. (Cera's character is claimed to be a stand-in for Maguire.)
With a $50000 minimum buy in to enter the game, Bloom’s games were only becoming more exclusive, and on a good night she could earn as much as $150,000. Of course, this couldn’t last. Making up to $4 million a year, Bloom seemed almost unstoppable but the end was near.
While the games themselves were not illegal, her actions in taking a cut of the earnings were. She became a target for the FBI and, in March 2011, a game she organised was raided. She was absent at the time, but it wasn’t long before her actions caught up with her and she finally admitted to being a key figure in an illegal high stakes gambling ring.
The fall from grace...
In April 2013, following a charge for profiting from illegal poker games, Bloom was fined $125,000, and given 200 hours of community service working in a centre that supports abuse victims.
Having now completed her service, Bloom has described this opportunity as "the most rewarding experience she ever imagined". A far cry from the life of luxury she had been experiencing, Bloom now lives a much simpler life. Originally written as a way to help pay off her debts, she never could have expected her memoir to be developed for the big screen.
Despite being heavily involved in the process, Bloom did not wish to watch the film in advance, and instead experienced it for the first time during the world premiere at Toronto International Film Festival. She has since praised Sorkin for his involvement in the film, saying that "for the most part, he made a movie that was very rooted in truth."
Hannah Dixon is an Unlimited card holder who blogs for Cineworld as part of our news team.