The stories of high-stakes underground poker games which Molly Bloom ran for the rich, famous and successful – and made into the soon-to-be-released movie ‘Molly’s Game’ – got an unexpected airing this week when Bloom broke her silence about the lifestyle she led during her time as the ultimate ‘fixer’.
Bloom took to the stage at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel and spoke about the money she earned, how she collected – or failed to collect – her dues for arranging the games which attracted the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck and Tobey Maguire, as well what she learned from dealing with the Russian Mafia and the FBI.
“I didn’t have the traditional resource to collect on debts,” Bloom told moderator Pattie Sellers, part of her ‘fixer’ role being to extend credit to the high-stakes poker addicts who would converge on her upmarket New York apartment for the games, and admitting that: “One night, I saw someone lose $100 million,” although the loser would remain nameless.
The book, which appeared in 2014 and was titled ‘Molly’s Game: From Hollywood’s Elite to Wall Street’s Billionaire Boys Club, My High-Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker’, revealed much of what led Bloom from Olympic skier to waitress to high-stakes hostess.
Her recent appearance at the Fortune event - ‘a room full of entrepreneurial businesswomen’ – saw her share ‘some of the lessons she learned running a decidedly different kind of start-up and, well, getting a bit far over her skis’, as the ‘Most Powerful Women’ article describes it.
How Bloom even got started in the underground poker scene is one such story, Bloom explaining:
“The motivations I had for being successful were somewhat dysfunctional. If you weren’t the best in the world in my family, it wasn’t impressive. I was looking for this thing that was going to make me feel fulfilled inside.”
Personal fulfilment was one thing, but it brought with it some serious downsides, Bloom eventually taking a cut of the rake:
“That’s where I crossed that little gray line,” she admits, as well as stating, “In 2009, my tax returns showed over $4 million.”
The money naturally attracted sharks of a different nature – Bloom having to deal with the Russian mob who wanted in on the action – and eventually to the FBI bringing the whole lucrative business to an end, Bloom even needing a special customs waiver to enter Canada for the screening of Aaron Sorkin’s movie premiere of her story in Toronto this September.
Bloom readily admits that it was a number of factors which led to her downfall; “greed, ambition, naivete” listed by Sellers and meeting with the response:
“I think it was all those things. I was in way too deep.”
Quite how the movie version will portray Bloom is yet to be seen by the wider public, but December 22nd and the release of the Jessica Chastain and Idris Elba-acted roles of Bloom and her lawyer will doubtless answer that much anticipated question.