Poker Coverage: Poker Legislation Poker Tournaments U.S. Poker Markets Sports Betting

Poker Stories Podcast: Houston Curtis Talks About The Softest High-Stakes Cash Game In Poker History

Poker Stories Is An Audio Podcast Series That Features The Game's Best Players and Personalities


Poker Stories is a long-form audio podcast series that features casual interviews with some of the game’s best players and personalities. Each episode highlights a well-known member of the poker world and dives deep into their favorite tales both on and off the felt.

You won’t find the name Houston Curtis on any poker leaderboards, but for a brief period of time during the height of the boom, he was among the biggest winners in the game. Curtis made his way to Los Angeles by way of Illinois, hoping to make it in the music business. He transitioned to TV production after doing audience warm up for Showtime At The Apollo, later working on shows such as Jerry Springer and The Dating Game, and as an executive at MTV. His Best Of Backyard Wrestling videos in the early 2000s made him a millionaire, and he went on to produce poker strategy videos for Phil Hellmuth, and the Ultimate Blackjack Tour.

By chance, Curtis was seated next to SpiderMan star Tobey Maguire one night while playing poker at the Commerce Casino. The two hit it off and became friends, moving their action from the casino to private high-stakes games filled with the Hollywood elite. The games were chronicled in the movie Molly’s Game, as well as the book it was based on written by Molly Bloom. But according to Curtis and his book, Billion Dollar Hollywood Heist, it was actually he and Maguire, not Bloom, who ran the game while it was in L.A., taking upwards of $1 million per month from players that included celebrities such as Nelly, David Schwimmer, director Todd Phillips, Don Cheadle, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Pete Sampras, Jon Landau, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, and Leonardo DiCaprio, before it all came crashing down.

Highlights from this interview include shooting music videos in the desert, being “related” to Minnesota Fats, Fortress: Stronghold Of Rock to Mind Over Matter, warming up crowds at Showtime At The Apollo, Jerry Springer and Backyard Wrestling, hiding his sleight-of-hand skills, car washing with Steve Perry, the ultra-competitive and eccentric Tobey Maguire, separating fact from fiction in Molly’s Game, The Viper Room, Todd Phillips and Old Spice, $800,000 bluffs at $200-$400, integrity and honesty from Rick Salomon, telling Layne Flack and his bag of cash to go home, Leonardo DiCaprio and his Armani furniture, the disappointing poker skills of Matt Damon, why David Schwimmer is such as Ross, Don Cheadle at the Playboy Mansion, losing seven figures in one night, playing on the set of SpiderMan 3 and in a sex dungeon, a Cheech and Chong nightmare, hustling a weight loss prop bet, and the sounds of Norm Macdonald.

You can check out the entirety of the interview in the audio player at the top of the page or download it directly to your device to play on the go from Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify, or your favorite podcast app.

Catch up on past episodes featuring notables such as Doyle Brunson, Daniel Negreanu, Bryn Kenney, Justin Bonomo, Antonio Esfandiari, Nick Schulman, Barry Greenstein, Michael Mizrachi, Mike Sexton, Jamie Gold, Chris Moneymaker, Maria Ho, and many more. If you like what you hear, be sure to subscribe to get the latest episodes automatically when they are released.