Molly Bloom told Ellen DeGeneres the most money she has seen a poker player lose in one night was US $100 million and “the man paid the next day”. That is how big the stakes were at her table in the Viper Room in Los Angeles. But life wasn’t always this complicated. And, as director Aaron Sorkin found out, Bloom’s life made for one compelling piece of cinema.

Born in Colorado, Bloom’s family were always into sport. Her mother was a ski instructor and her brother, Jeremy, was an American Olympic skier and professional football player. Bloom worked hard to become the third best female skier in North America. But a bad accident at an Olympic qualifier which resulted in a debilitating back injury dashed any dream Bloom had of spending her career on the powder.

In 2003 and much to her parent’s dismay, Bloom moved to Los Angeles to have a little bit of fun. Her parents cut off her allowance and with little money, she became a cocktail waitress and an executive assistant. It was the later job that saw Bloom be enlisted to cater to poker players and manage the game. With little knowledge on how to play, Bloom – an aspiring law student – was very bright. Soon, she launched her own company Molly Bloom Inc. which attracted LA’s wealthy elite; politicians, businessmen and celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, Tobey Maguire and Macaulay Culkin. Bloom soon moved her game to New York City to attract Wall Street financiers.

But in 2011 – and after being followed by the FBI – Bloom’s game was shut down because one of its players was allegedly running a Ponzi scheme. As she had received money from the participant, she was in trouble. In 2013, she and 33 others were accused of laundering US $100 million and operating an illegal gambling operation. At just 34-years-old, Bloom faced ten years in prison and was fined US 1.5 million. Her mother put her house up to help pay the fine. The only way Bloom felt she could pay back her family was by writing a memoir; Molly’s Game: The True Story of a 26-year-old Woman Behind The Most Exclusive, High-Stakes Underground Poker Game In The World. Sorkin wrote and directed the film – starring Jessica Chastain as Bloom – which premieres in Australia on February 1.