Stars Reveal How Molly’s Game Got Poker Right

3 years ago
Stars Reveal How Molly’s Game Got Poker Right
18 Apr

Brian D’Arcy James plays ‘Brad’ in Molly’s Game, one of several composite and anonymised characters in the film. Though like the lead actor Jessica Chastain, James had next to no interest in gambling. He said in a recent interview that: 

“I played a couple of times, and there is something about me, I am just allergic to poker and cards in general. I just have never had a desire to sit down and want to understand it. I just don’t have a mind that works that way.”

So how did writer/director Aaron Sorkin get the verisimilitude he wanted. Well it turns out that the set was crawling with poker players.

“To help someone like me,” said James, “and the movie, Aaron was wise to incorporate poker consultants and experts to play with us, who would basically say things like, 'you’d never move your chips that way.' Tiny, tiny details that I would never know.”

Even the extras in the poker scenes were largely played by extras. Many of these pros managed to get poker games going off camera too turning their standard 90 bucks a day into considerably more by taking their Hollywood colleagues for a ride.

Distilling the WSOP

Aaron Sorkin has a history of describing his films as being ‘not about’ stuff. According to him Moneyball is not about baseball, The Social Network is not about the founding of Facebook, and Molly’s Game is not ‘a poker movie’. He has also called the WSOP “the worst spectator sport”.

But James has a slightly different view on what Sorkin might mean by that, saying:

“It’s one thing to watch something in real time and see it as dramatic if you have an understanding of the game [...] how do I take something that has peaks and valleys in terms of a dramatic thing, and compress it and make it highly entertaining and highly compelling.”

With the reviews and box office all gathered in. It looks like they managed it.

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Jon is a freelance writer and novelist who learned to play poker after watching Rounders in year 9. He has been giving away his beer money at cards ever since. Currently he is based in Bristol where he makes sporadic donations to the occasional live tournament or drunken late night Zoom session. He ...Read more


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