‘Molly’s game’

Molly Bloom says running a multi-million dollar underground gambling ring was both exciting and disturbing

Molly Bloom (ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)

Molly Bloom opened up about her experience running a multi-million dollar underground poker game in New York City and Los Angeles in a recent interview with Business Insider, describing the experience as simultaneously exhilarating and unsettling. Bloom, who wrote a book about the experience titled Molly’s Game that was later turned into a feature film directed by Aaron Sorkin and starring Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba, recalled how moving to L.A. — and losing financial support from her parents — led her into a career that she never could have anticipated.

“I had to get a lot of different jobs,” said Bloom. “One of them was working for a man in Hollywood who had a weekly poker game. He said that it was going to be part of my responsibilities to help him out at the game. The first night I was there, I recognized a really interesting opportunity to build a network and access to incredible information because this game was populated by some of the world’s most famous, wealthiest, and most powerful men.”

As she started making connections with some of the regular players, she soon realized that she could run a similar operation herself.

“I wasn’t running a game because I wanted to play in it. I looked at it as a business. I looked at it as a startup and I wanted to be able to expand my business so I started seeking out players. I started looking in different corners of the country, of the world, and finding these whales, finding these big gamblers, that would contribute to this very compelling, larger-than-life environment,” Bloom explained.

“These men had massive privilege,” she continued. “They weren’t interested in acquiring things, they wanted experiences. I think I was able to create an experience that was very exciting. There was an adrenaline component to it. There was a bloodsport component to it. Ultimately, I recognize that there was certainly an addiction component to it.”

If Bloom’s carefully cultivated poker environment wasn’t enough to get the blood pumping, the high stakes took care of the rest. A typical game in New York, Bloom said, had a $250,000 buy-in. With no limits on how much players could raise in time, she said it wasn’t atypical to see someone burn through their chips in less than half an hour. And as her games grew more popular, the stakes climbed higher and higher.

“There were millions and millions and millions of dollars changing hands, sometimes in one night. And it just kept growing bigger,” she said.

“I saw someone lose $100 million in one night,” she recalled. “When you watch that, as an owner-operator of a game, you realize that these numbers are incredibly unsustainable, incredibly unhealthy. So I was not happy about this loss. It brought me no joy or adrenaline.”

Despite the disturbing undercurrent of addiction and risky behavior she witnessed, she continued to keep the cards coming nonetheless. After all, she and everyone else there understood that it was all just part of the game.

Watch Bloom’s interview with Business Insider below.

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