Imagine having dirt on the most influential individuals in the world, politicians, business and finance tycoons, professional athletes, movie stars, billionaires, and rock musicians. While these figures pose as untouchable, their money eventually runs thin and in an all-consuming society, eventually can start to sneak up on you. This is Molly Bloom, the woman who ran an elite high-stakes private poker game catering to them all.
Bloom was born in Colorado to a family of extreme academic and athletic calibre with consequently high expectations. Her brother, Jeremy Bloom, was a two-time Olympic freestyle skier who also played professional football for the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers. Her other brother is a surgeon who graduated from Harvard Medical School. Molly obtained her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a 3.9 GPA, her sights set on law school. She was also ranked third in North America for women’s freestyle moguls before horrifically crashing during her Olympic qualifying run.
In 2003 Molly decided to take a year off between undergrad and law school, where she moved to Los Angeles sleeping on a friend’s couch. She was making minimum wage at a waitressing job where she met someone in need of an assistant. After working part-time as an office assistant, her new boss asked for her help in running his weekly poker game. With limited poker knowledge, Molly assembled a cliché playlist based on one Kenny Rogers song and brought her cheese platter to a Hollywood nightclub, The Viper Room. There she stood in a club basement with Wall Street titans, A-list actors, and some of the biggest names on TV. A 3000$ tip on her first night compelled her to stay and embrace the world of underground poker. When her boss became increasingly unpleasant, she quit and took his extensive list of poker players with her, debuting her position as a game runner.
Her game’s initial buy-in grew from $10,000 to $250,000 when she moved her game from LA to New York. But shortly after, one of the players was found guilty of running a Ponzi scheme to cover his gambling losses. Molly Bloom as well as Tobey Maguire, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, and Leonardo DiCaprio were implicated in a legal deposition. With this information, the FBI had Molly and her game on their radar. When she finally decided to take a rake of the pot, they settled on raiding her operation.
When she was arrested by the FBI, with enough intel having been received from an informant, Molly Bloom’s mother put her house up for sale to help pay her daughter’s bail and legal bills. After lengthy proceedings, Molly was cleared of most charges she was facing and sentenced to one-year probation, 200 hours of community service, and a $1000 fine. Today, Molly uses her networking skills to help female entrepreneurs build community, using her mistakes as lessons by example.
Molly’s story is one that reflects societal glamour, secrecy, and recklessness but shows a civilization so driven by nothing but money and the sacrifices people are willing to make to have a slim shot at earning more. Bloom noted she’d once seen someone lose $100 million dollars in one night and pay back what he owed first thing the next morning. $100 million is a lot of money, even to someone who finds themselves in a vulnerable position when the hand is dealt. But they’re holding out hope that they’ll have a better hand than the other person who’s hoping for just as much. The reflection of our money-risking-capitalistic society here is immaculate but those who profit from it clearly aren’t as untouchable as we think they are.
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