Poker has always been portrayed in popular culture as something glamorous, and a game that’s played by the elite, or by the underdogs. Since the beginning of Hollywood, there has been an influx of poker-related television shows and films that showcase the thrill and allure of high-stakes poker. 2017’s Molly’s Game is no different, except for the first time, the critically-acclaimed film confirmed the rumors of the high-stakes, all-or-nothing poker games in which Hollywood A-listers would participate.
The film centers around the games organized by businesswoman Molly Bloom, who wrote a memoir of the same name before the film in 2014. The book details Molly’s experience as a host of high-stakes Hollywood poker games and stories involving her celebrity, billionaire, and elite clients with some names sprinkled in there.
The stories and experiences in the book have been highly debated, but it doesn’t mean it is any less exciting. With that being said, here are five confessions from Molly Bloom’s memoir.
Tobey Maguire told Bloom to ‘bark like a seal who wants a fish’.
Tobey Maguire was an underground poker enthusiast in the 2000s. The Babylon star helped to create a high-stakes secret weekly poker game that started in 2005 with the help of television producer Houston Curtis. The private games were commonly held at The Viper Room Club and other LA hotspots.
According to ignitioncasino.eu, professional poker player Daniel Negreanu reportedly trained a shark in the poker world, Tobey Maguire, and became very good at different games, particularly Texas Hold’Em, which has been popular since its spread throughout Texas in the early to mid-1900s. It’s no secret that some celebrities know how to play Texas Hold ‘Em like the professionals thanks to glamorous poker nights and charity tournaments. Although it is obvious Tobey himself had a strong interest in poker before Molly’s games even started! The former cocktail waitress said in an interview that: “I used to call Tobey him Hannibal Lecter because he could talk someone off of a good hand.”
The actor once offered Bloom a sum of money to ‘bark’ like a hungry seal. Bloom supposedly refused to bark in response to Maguire’s request and the actor looked angry at her reaction.
Despite what you may think, Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t a high-roller player
Aside from calling the Hollywood heartthrob ‘handsome’ and referring to him as the alluring Jack Dawson from Titanic, Bloom did not give too much away about Leo. What she did reveal, however, was that he wasn’t there to win or to lose.
“He had a strange style at the table, though; it was almost as if he wasn’t trying to win or lose. He folded most hands and listened to music on huge headphones,” she dished on the actor.
With the names that Molly Bloom dropped in her memoir, it’s not surprising the kind of guests who attended and the secrets she divulged. After all, she did say when her boss gave her control of the poker games, she was tasked with attracting high-profile clients with big bucks. Safe to say she succeeded, as Ben Affleck was a regular fixture at Bloom’s games, as well as former professional basketball player Alex Rodriguez.
Ben Affleck knew when to flash his cash
Actor Ben Affleck may be known as one part of “Bennifer” alongside his wife Jennifer Lopez, but did you know he used to play in the World Series Of Poker? In 2004, he won $356,400 at the California State Poker Championship.
Affleck triumphed over 90 players in California including Spiderman alum Tobey Maguire. At Molly Bloom’s games, Ben Affleck was reportedly no different, playing with skill, tact, and a stone-cold poker face.
She wrote of Affleck: “By now, I had learned something about the psychology behind the way a guy asks for chips. Wanting to be overstocked or short-stacked at a table is a clear indication of playing style and ego.”
When buying in, Ben did not flash all of his cash on the table, Molly Bloom’s claim. He would first assess his opponents before deciding how much money to put into the game.
Tobey Maguire did not like to lose, or to tip!
Tobey Maguire appeared to be a ruthless poker player back in the 2000s. His career earnings and winning streak would’ve made him seem brutal, but Bloom seemed to imply he was cutthroat in every game.
Playing Spiderman in the film trilogy, Maguire was one of the most recognized and established actors of the 2000s. He was well-connected to Hollywood and influential people, so his word held a lot of weight in the eyes of many.
Speaking on Tobey’s personality, Molly Bloom’s claimed he was ‘the worst tipper, the biggest winner and the absolute worst loser, but I had to worry about my job security if he lost because he had all the connections.’ In other words, if she displeased him enough, he could have her fired or reprimanded without question!
The Olsen Twins bagged a billionaire and brought him to the poker table.
Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, known for their role in Fullhouse in the 1990s bought a billionaire to the poker table and were then allowed to join in on the action.
“When the Olsen twins showed up with a billionaire I was trying to land for a game, they were in, no questions asked,” Bloom revealed. While she did not reveal the name of the billionaire, it wasn’t uncommon to have extremely wealthy guests at Bloom’s games, even if they were not considered famous.
The guilty verdict and the end of the poker games
In 2011, Molly Bloom’s poker games came to a screeching halt when one game in Los Angeles was shut down due to a bankruptcy investigation. Bradley Ruderman, one of the players in this particular game was accused of running a scam where he fraudulently took money from investors to pay off celebrities who won big money playing poker. The amount stolen used to pay the celebrities is believed to be around $44.3 million.
Bloom received money from Ruderman, believed to be around $473,000 concerning the poker game. However, her book was a Sunday Times bestseller, but that did not stop the poker princess from getting in trouble with the law before its release.
In April 2013, Molly Bloom was arrested along with the other defendants involved in the games and charged with operating an illegal gambling ring and her part in the losses that were sustained by investors in the games.
She pled guilty to illegal gambling and was sentenced to one year of probation and ordered to pay a $1000 fine for her involvement in the $100m money laundering scheme.
So, Where is Molly Bloom now?
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Molly Bloom. After her film and book releases, she disappeared from the spotlight to focus on treating her addiction issues privately. She froze her eggs at 37 and went on to have a daughter in February 2022 with her husband Devin Effinger, who she married in 2019.
The mom-of-one now works as a mentor to women in business and as a keynote speaker.