Sunday 20 January 2019

Power and the Poker Princess

Memoir: Molly's Game, Molly Bloom, William Collins, €12.59

Molly's Game
Molly's Game

Anne Marie Scanlon

The memoir, Molly's Game, by Molly Bloom (dubbed the 'Poker Princess' in the US tabloids), about her time running the most exclusive poker games in Hollywood and New York, and her subsequent federal indictment, was first published in 2014. The book has been re-released to coincide with the film, Molly's Game, on which it is based.

The story works on many levels - in one way it's a fish-out-of-water tale - young Molly, a small-town girl, the eldest of three over-achievers who has worked towards both academic and sporting excellence her entire life, is thrust into the venal culture of LA. There are some 'Tell All' features when Molly finds herself helping her obnoxious boss run his weekly poker game which include A-List actors, media giants and rich financiers.

The 'Insider' world that Molly becomes part of is fascinating and she makes the technicalities of poker playing relatable to the ordinary reader who may not have a clue about the high-stakes game. Bloom's narrative voice is engaging and the story progresses entertainingly but with moments of drama, pathos, hilarity and sheer horror.

The timing of the current release of Molly's Game gives it a dimension that it didn't have first time around - the Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo tsunami of revelations about how men wield power in Hollywood, (and in other industries). The exhaustive accounts of influential men being sexist, sexually inappropriate and bullying shed a new light on to what was already a pretty good read. The 'Game' empowers Molly, she has something that powerful men want - a seat at the table, hence she is treated with great respect. "Most new players were surprised when I turned out to be a young, petite woman," she remarks.

Of course being Hollywood it turns out that her 'power' is ultimately dependent on a man, a very famous actor who enjoys cruelty. An enthralling read.

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