Underground Poker: Molly’s Game, Myth or Reality?
Imagine glitz, glamour and celebrities in attendance. Add to that with free alcohol and haute cuisine food on demand. Sounds great doesn’t it? Well, that is the portrayal of underground poker games in the cult poker movie ‘Molly’s Game’. This 2017 film was based on the true story of Molly Bloom and if you haven’t seen it yet, you need to.
Are There Still Games Like That?
In a simple answer, yes. According to a retired New York poker professional, there are many and even some which are still run by Molly Bloom’s ex-associate. Reportedly the average amount of raked commission is anything up to $40,000 per event. These are strict ‘no cash’ games, any debts or winnings are settled directly with the host, often using cryptocurrency.
Some attendees have defended the high rake because of the level of ‘service’ players are offered and the legal risks associated with such activities. They also claim that they can play safely, without the risk of being cheated or robbed due to the casino-level style of hosting.
The High-Class Underground
Reports from those who have attended high-class private poker games include tales of luxuries like a celebrity chef cooking to order. Plus other benefits like drinks on the house (including some costly champagne) and an abundance of recreational drugs, all served up by some ladies of dubious morals masquerading as waiting staff.
These games take place at top-class hotels, country mansions and private members clubs all over the world. But before you think you might get to rub shoulders with the upper echelons of society, they are very much closed shop, invitation-only kind of events.
The Less-Than-Savoury Underground
Sorry to burst your bubble, but the types of underground poker games that the likes of us will encounter are going to be a tad different to the ‘Molly’s Game’ type.
There are thousands of underground games taking place across the world on any given day. Unfortunately, these illegal games are often subjected to extremely high rakes and tend to attract all kinds of cheating ranging from simple theft of chips through to extremely high-tech card marking.
You may not think it would be worth their while, especially if you are usually a low-stakes kind of player. However, you may be surprised at just how much money goes over the tables in a single night with a roomful of excitable people all eager to win.
What to Watch Out For:
- Collusion between players or a player and dealer
- Theft of chips
- Marked decks
- Card switching
- Dealer ‘mechanics’
Most of those speak for themselves and are easily avoided by being watchful at all times while playing. However, there have also been reports of criminal influences too, with gangs launching attacks on games, with the sole intent of robbing players of their money and valuables.
Putting it Into Perspective
So there we have it, the world of underground poker from one extreme to the other. There is no doubt a lot of middle-ground too, but we suggest that you are best off sticking to legal settings, like casinos or organised tournaments. At least that way you have protection against the majority of problems associated with off-grid games.
Poker is a fun and friendly game and we are certainly not saying there is anything wrong with having a poker tournament in your front room or allowing your players to gamble with cash. Provided you are not taking a commission or condoning any form of cheating at the table, it is entirely legal to do so.
Tracy started writing for us in early 2017 and is a crucial player within our team. She’s the editor of our Blog and regularly writes other articles. Tracy’s online gambling insights are born out of years of real-world experience as a Croupier overseeing table games.