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The real ‘Molly’s Sport’: Inside Tobey Maguire’s high-stakes underground poker ring

Tobey Maguire needed to take down Hollywood.

Again in 2005, the “Spider-Man” star collaborated with a card cheat-turned-TV producer named Houston Curtis to create an everyday poker sport for themselves and their wealthy friends the place as a lot as just a few million bucks may very well be in play on any night time.

The alleged objective, in line with Curtis’s new e-book, “Billion Greenback Hollywood Heist” (Skyhorse Publishing, co-authored with Dylan Howard): for Maguire and Curtis to win as a lot as attainable from their hand-picked suckers.

Till all the things crashed down exhausting, they pulled it off, placing collectively the largest sport that Hollywood has ever seen. On Tuesday nights from 2005 till 2009, bold-faced names — together with Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and “The Pocket book” director Nick Cassavetes — flocked to The Viper Room or Beverly Hills 4 Seasons Resort to play.

The stakes have been so excessive, Curtis advised The Publish, that “successful $20,000 felt like ­shedding.”

If the story sounds acquainted, that’s as a result of it impressed the 2018 film “Molly’s Sport,” starring Jessica Chastain as Molly Bloom, the previous Olympic-class skier who was the hostess of the operation — and who later can be arrested on gambling-related prices tied to a sport she ran in New York Metropolis.

However, Curtis writes, neither the film nor Bloom’s personal memoir tells the true story of the LA sport.

Molly Bloom wrote a book about her time hosting the poker game, inspiring the movie “Molly’s Game” — but Curtis said she was just the face of the operation.
Molly Bloom wrote a e-book about her time internet hosting the poker sport, inspiring the film “Molly’s Sport” — however Curtis mentioned she was simply the face of the operation.Tamara Beckwith

Curtis claims Bloom was not the mastermind she presupposed to be and that she was primarily there to deflect consideration in order that he and Maguire may win hundreds of thousands with out spooking their friends.

“Molly had nothing to do with something,” Curtis mentioned. “Initially, she simply served drinks and we gave her numbers to name the blokes.”

“The guys” included billionaires who had all the things however fame. Celebrities have been introduced in so as to add glamour and, often, function collateral injury.

Wealthy males went house with their pockets gentle of money however filled with tales. Just like the time movie producer Rick Salomon — notorious for starring in a intercourse tape with Paris Hilton — grilled Affleck about Jennifer Lopez, the actor’s former fiancée.

“Did [her] ass have cellulite on it or was it good?” Salomon requested.

The desk was surprised into silence ­earlier than Affleck replied: “It was good.”

Curtis met Maguire at a 2004 poker sport in Los Angeles. Unbeknownst to Maguire, Curtis had an extended profession as a sleight-of-hand professional, scamming high-stakes video games in LA.

When Maguire invited Curtis to the actor’s Hollywood Hills house for a sport — through which gamers included lawyer Jon Moonves and billionaire scion Kevin Washington — Curtis performed it straight and was cautious to not win an excessive amount of.

“Or else I’d by no means be invited once more,” he mentioned. “I dumped chips to guys who performed badly and would lose them again.”

Serving because the supplier was Maguire’s then-wife, Jen Meyer. The actor pressed company to tip Meyer, a profitable jewellery designer who can also be the daughter of Ron Meyer, a former Hollywood energy agent and now the vice-chairman of NBCUniversal.

“He needed to make her really feel included,” mentioned Curtis. “On the finish of the night time, she may depend her income alongside Tobey — who virtually all the time received.”

However Maguire wasn’t snug having gamers in his home. Anxious about germs, he purportedly made them go away their sneakers on the door and put on Crocs that he offered.

Admitted card cheat Houston Curtis has written a book about founding the game with Maguire and how wild things became.
Admitted card cheat Houston Curtis has written a e-book about founding the sport with Maguire and the way wild issues grew to become.Billion Greenback Hollywood Heist

“Kevin Washington chewed tobacco and spit right into a cup; Tobey hated that,” mentioned Curtis. “And, since Tobey was a vegan, it actually bothered him when folks ordered pepperoni pizzas. He mentioned to me, ‘Dude, I’ve to get these scumbags out of my home.’ ”

(A consultant for Washington had no remark.)

So in 2005, the sport moved to The Viper Room, the Sundown Strip nightclub the place River Phoenix fatally overdosed in 1993.

Maguire and Curtis organized issues with membership co-owner Darin Feinstein.

“He mentioned, ‘I’ll have a poker room arrange downstairs and get a sizzling piece of ass named Molly to serve drinks,’” Curtis mentioned of their introduction to Bloom, then an worker of Feinstein’s.

“Poker was blowing up large and we discovered younger, rich guys who needed to play with Tobey,” mentioned Curtis. “They didn’t even know find out how to shuffle a deck of playing cards.”

Maguire shortly enlisted one among his greatest associates, Leonardo DiCaprio, as a lure.

“Tobey mentioned that he and I must stake Leo,” recalled Curtis, that means they’d put up money for DiCaprio to play, masking his losses but additionally getting a share of his winnings.

“[DiCaprio] is a man price $80 million and he didn’t wish to put up the $5,000 buy-in. However Tobey mentioned, ‘Don’t fear. He solely performs aces and kings.’ And he did. Leo was tighter than a gnat’s ass.”

One night time, Matt Damon got here as a visitor of his buddy Affleck.

“He misplaced round $50,000 to me and didn’t have any cash [on him],” Curtis recalled. “Affleck wrote the test.”

(Reps for Maguire, Meyer, Affleck, Damon and DiCaprio didn’t return requests for remark. Bloom had no remark.)

“Joker” director Todd Phillips was an everyday.

“However after we went to $200/$400 blinds” — making it a no-limit poker sport through which you can simply lose six figures per night time — “Todd backed off for some time. Some folks simply didn’t have the abdomen for these stakes.”

Two who did have been Cirque du Soleil founder Man Laliberté and hedge-fund supervisor Brad Ruderman. Curtis mentioned that Ruderman was so inept and so wealthy that he was thought of “a godsend.” Laliberté was additionally valued.

“The first time I received a quarter-million {dollars} was Man’s first night time within the sport,” mentioned Curtis, including that the circus impresario invited the poker crew to fly with him to Hawaii.

“One morning, a bunch of men took him up on it. They beat him for like $2 million [in Hawaii] and he flew them again on his jet.”

He tried making [Bloom] bark like a seal [for $1,000].

 – Curtis on Maguire

(Laliberté didn’t return requests for remark.)

Curtis estimates he received round $15 million through the sport’s 4 years. He, his spouse and their two daughters lived in a $three million LA house. He purchased a dream home for his mom, a musical-instrument retailer for his dad and a dojo for his previous karate instructor.

Curtis got here to think about Maguire buddy. He additionally glimpsed the star’s petty facet.

Curtis alleges within the e-book that Maguire hated seeing Bloom taking house as a lot as $30,000 in ideas per night time. He advised The Publish that the actor “tried making her bark like a seal [for a $1,000 chip]. She wouldn’t do it — however he nonetheless gave her a thousand that night time. One-thousand {dollars} was his insult tip.”

However by 2008, Curtis was enduring a trifecta of issues: The worth of his $three million house had dipped by two-thirds, a $four million TV-distribution deal went south and he had misplaced $100,000 in Las Vegas. Then he suffered the largest lack of his playing profession: $1 million in a single, horrible night time at The 4 Seasons.

That morning, heading house on autopilot, Curtis obtained a name from Maguire: “He mentioned he needed to verify I wasn’t driving off a cliff. I walked into my home, my daughter ran as much as me, and I actually broke into tears.”

Regardless of his earnings, the million-dollar debt was greater than he may afford.

Maguire agreed to mortgage him $600,000. Curtis supplied to pay again the principal after which give Maguire 10 % of his winnings for the following yr.

“I assumed that was cheap,” mentioned Curtis. Maguire, who, in line with unnamed sources within the e-book’s introduction, “may have made as much as $30 to $40 million from the video games” had ­reportedly earned $36.5 million plus back-end earnings on the “Spider-Man” franchise, thought in any other case. He needed his principal plus 50 % of Curtis’s wins and no draw back.

“The deal was unimaginable to beat,” mentioned Curtis. However with no higher choice, he agreed to it. He owed $500,000 to Salomon and the identical sum to some different gamers.

With the deal finished, Curtis writes, ­Maguire joyfully shouted, “I personal you now! And I’m gonna make sooo a lot f–king cash this yr at poker!”

It didn’t work out that means.

Months later, in April 2009, “godsend” Ruderman obtained busted for working his hedge fund as a Ponzi scheme. That led to chapter attorneys going after gamers to get better his ill-gotten features, and the sport imploded.

Bloom was deposed within the chapter case, however no person was arrested on account of the LA sport since no legal guidelines had been damaged. (Independently, Bloom was sentenced to a yr’s probation, a $200,000 positive and 200 hours of neighborhood service for gambling-related infractions in NYC.)

Curtis’s spouse moved with their youngsters to the East Coast. Collectors positioned a lien on his house. He went into cardiac arrest throughout a biopsy. And an unpaid debt at a Las Vegas on line casino landed him within the LA County jail for a month.

Damaged, overwhelmed and deserted, Curtis obtained a lifeline of $15,000 from Moonves and located a journey to Illinois, the place he went to dwell together with his mom.

“The dream house was bought,” he mentioned. “I moved into her tiny home and a health care provider [said] that my coronary heart was performing at 25 %. I had 5 years to dwell.”

Determined to show issues round, he misplaced weight. The coronary heart situation reversed itself. Today, Curtis resides in Phoenix and is penning his subsequent e-book, about his exploits as a card cheat — and launching a sleight-of-hand web site, kardsharp.com. He hasn’t talked to Maguire in about three years.

“I don’t have all my a reimbursement,” he mentioned. “However I overcame the worst dangerous beat you may get and am nonetheless within the sport.”

About the author

Tina Sanders

Tina is the mind behind Gruntstuff.com, and she ideated it when she was working for an online magazine company where she used to cover US-based headlines news. She holds a degree in journalism and has more than 4.5 years of experience in an online magazine company. She had the idea while working there but when she was quite sure about starting something on her own, she took the risk and left the job to start Gruntstuff. Since then she added a few team members, and along with them, she creates General US news content on the site.

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