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How Strong is “Molly’s Hand” on the Big Screen?

Real life crime drama is a film genre that has consistently attracted audiences around the world and produced some of the film industry’s most acclaimed films. This year, another film will get added to that list: “Molly’s Game.” Molly’s Game is based on a series of true events that revolves around Molly Bloom, a former U.S. Ski Team member, who was targeted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for her involvement in illegal and high-stakes poker.

In 2014, The Denver Post reported that Bloom pleaded guilty to federal charges that she had accrued off-the-books income from the covert poker activities. The authorities had also linked her underground affairs to a Russian mob operation. During the peak of operations, Bloom had provided a poker service for many A-list stars. In her tell-all novel “Molly’s Game,” in which the movie was based on, Bloom admits that actors Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire both entered play in her games.

Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom| Photo credit: STX Films

The film will be the directorial debut of Aaron Sorkin who is responsible for critically-acclaimed masterpieces such as “The Social Network,” “Moneyball,” and “A Few Good Men.” Jessica Chastain will star as Molly Bloom, while Idris Elba will play her criminal defense lawyer Charlie Jaffey.

The film is already creating awards season buzz through the positive reviews it has received. The Hollywood Reporter highlights and praises the first-time director saying that, “Sorkin both entertains and makes you lean in to absorb every detail of this wild tale, which boasts a stellar cast to help it.” THR also praised the performance of Jessica Chastain writing: “Chastain roars through the performance with a force and take-no-prisoners attitude that keeps one rapt.” The film currently has a Rotten Tomatoes approval rating of 94% with the review site stating that the movie “boasts a zillion killer lines” and features “at least two of the year’s most exciting performance.”

Poker has always had a special place in cinema. From the Matt Damon film “Rounders” – that also dealt with underground poker, to being a key part of the Daniel Craig, James Bond film “Casino Royale,” poker has constantly been used as an exciting narrative device. It is because of this increased media presence that the game has acquired a global culture around it.

Poker has become even more popular in recent years as the game has been converted online. More players are turning to their mobile phones to access gaming sites and play games. A graph on Statista showed how the numbers of mobile gamers is projected to grow from 80.7 million in 2011 to 213 million by 2020. One of the key reasons that mobile gaming is becoming so popular is that it allows consumers to play at their convenience. Fans of poker can either play against other online opponents or play new versions of the game that have been adapted for online gaming. Digital casino game Aces and Faces Poker on Slingo is an contemporary adaptation that is designed to be played quickly on either a mobile device or computer. It is through these popular digital iterations of the game that more players, both traditional poker fans and those new to poker, are able to access the game. With more players turning to the online version of poker, it wouldn’t be surprising if Hollywood continues to make more films that center on poker. With Aaron Sorkin’s film likely to end up doing well in the awards season, it shows how much poker has become an important part of popular culture.

“Molly’s Game” hits theatres on December 25, 2017. 

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