Poker hostess calls Spider-Man’s bluff

Poker hostess calls Spider-Man’s bluff

Leonardo DiCaprio came in flashing “a crooked smile from under his hat”, Tobey Maguire came with his own vegan snacks and Ben Affleck bought in to the game with $50,000. This was considered a relatively modest start at the poker nights organised by Molly Bloom.

A wealthy playboy from Las Vegas arrived with a rucksack containing $250,000 in cash and another had half a million dollars in chips from the Bellagio casino. Rick Salomon, the videographer and husband of Pamela Anderson, bought in with $200,000. Hedge fund managers and Hollywood tycoons lined the table. By the time Affleck arrived, notifying the hostess with a text message that simply read “Here”, there was $2 million on the table.

Ms Bloom — whose career as a ringmaster of secretive high-stakes poker games came to an abrupt halt after she was arrested in New York last year — now promises to reveal all, or nearly all, in a book to be published later this month.

Poker Princess details how she progressed from cocktail waitress to maître d’ and gatekeeper for the most sought-after poker nights in Hollywood. In the week after each game, Ms Bloom would drive around the city, pulling up in the driveways of Beverly Hills mansions to pay winnings and collect debts. In the book the players are referred to only by their first names — Tobey, Ben and Leo — but her descriptions leave little to chance and the actors have been widely identified elsewhere.

In an extract of the book, published in Vanity Fair, she describes visiting Maguire’s home to drop off a cheque, and a shuffling machine the actor apparently insisted she use in all the games.

He told her that he was going “to start charging rent for the Shuffle Master”, she writes. “I looked past him to the expansive foyer of his mansion in the hills. You could see straight through to the ocean. I laughed. Surely he was joking. He couldn’t possibly be serious about charging rent for a machine he insisted that we use, from the guys whose money he was taking every week. But he was as serious as death.”

Maguire, hero of the Spider-Man films, is portrayed by Ms Bloom as a villain of the poker scene. A brilliant player, he had, she writes, been an early participant at games in which famous names such as DiCaprio and Affleck attracted businessmen with plenty of money to lose.

She was making good money too — one night she recalls receiving $50,000 in tips — but believes this began to bother Maguire. One night, after handing her a tip in the form of a $1,000 chip, he demanded she do “something to earn these thousand dollars” and “bark like a seal who wants a fish”.

In the awkward stand-off that ensued, Ms Bloom describes play coming to a halt and the poker men turning to watch Maguire say, “You won’t bark for a thousand dollars? Wowwww . . . you must be really rich”, before striding out.

“After all I had done to accommodate this guy, I was also shocked,” she writes. “I had made sure I ran every detail of every game by him, changed the stakes for him, structured tournaments around him, memorised every ingredient in every vegan dish in town for him.” She adds: “He had won millions and millions of dollars at my table . . . and now he seemed to want to humiliate me.”

Thinking ahead for added value

Thinking ahead for added value

There are some big ticket sporting events that we all feel almost compelled to have a bet on. In the UK the Grand National steeplechase is the best example I can think of, but you could put the Breeders’ Cup, The Kentucky Derby, the Soccer World Cup or the Superbowl in there on the same basis. Some things just go with a bet like eggs and bacon – it’s just the way it is.

Of course, that sort of universal event is meat and drink to the bookmakers. With thousands of ill-informed punters spraying their money around on the basis that they like a horse’s name, or the jockey’s colours, all the bookmakers have to do is make sure they’ve got their math right and the money will come rolling in.

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Fixed-odds betting

gamble

Will the new boss of William Hill tackle the company’s dependency on the most addictive kind of betting?

Sir, Apropos the comments by James Henderson, of William Hill (Aug 2), the betting industry’s problems stem from a single product: fixed-odds betting terminals. FOBTs offer casino games such as roulette at high speed — they can take bets of up to £100 every 20 seconds. They have led to increased crime, abuse by money launderers and a rise in gambling addiction. They account for over half the betting industry’s profits, and over 80 per cent of its turnover.

FOBTs are the most addictive form of gambling, and bookmakers like their fixed rate of return — “the house always wins” instead of the risks of race and sports betting.

Mr Henderson’s predecessor at William Hill, Ralph Topping, oversaw the unwelcome transformation. We hope Mr Henderson will steer William Hill in a different direction.

Derek Webb, Adrian Parkinson
& Matt Zarb-Cousin

Campaign for Fairer Gambling

4 Unusual Online Hobbies For 2015

We all have New Year’s resolutions. We either decide to become better people, or we choose to take up a hobby. If you are already perfection, it may be time to consider your hobbies. Hobbies are the best way to spend some downtime. After a long week of work and family commitments, you want to have some “you” time. Sometimes, we don’t even want to leave the house. If this sounds all too familiar, you need to start looking at online hobbies that you can take up.

When it comes to the online world, it truly is your oyster. You don’t have to worry about leaving the comfort of your home either.

Online Betting

Online betting is one of the most fun ways to pass the time. Whether you are into poker or bingo, there is something for you when it comes to the online world of betting. NJ Online Poker allows you to play online with friends or strangers, so you don’t have to get the boys round and play host all evening. While this is not the most unusual way to spend time, it is an excellent online hobby to have. You don’t have to be a betting pro either. The world of online betting is relatively easy to master. What’s more, you don’t have to practice your strategic betting face when you’re in the online world either.

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Sports

Yes, sports. You don’t have to go outside to enjoy sports. There is a wealth of online sporting hobbies that you can take up. Horse racing is one of the more popular sports that you can seek out from the comfort of your favourite armchair. You can even seek out online tips and hints so that you don’t have to go into this as a complete novice. There are some excellent forums online entirely dedicated to the world of online sports. With such a vast online community, it’s a great way to meet new friends.

Creating Your Own App

If you are something of a tech nerd and you want to make a big impact on the world of tech, why not check out ways to create your own app? Think about things that you would like to see within an app and get creative. There are some genius how-to guides online to help you with the process. You don’t have to live and breathe in Silicon Valley to become the next big thing. Check out online resources such as AppMakr to get you started.

Online Gaming

The online world is packed to the rafters with unusual games. Whether you like big blockbuster games with massive effects and heaps of appeal or whether you like the indie games, there is something for everyone. The online community of games allows you to collaborate and talk with other people. They can help you out with difficult parts of your current game. Likewise, you can help them out too. When it comes to the online world, the gaming community is the most welcoming. It’s a great way to spend your downtime.