Molly Bloom had trained for years to become an Olympic skier, but was injured while trying to qualify for the Olympics.
In April 2013, Molly was charged with running a high-stakes poker game which began Los Angeles, attracting wealthy businessmen, sports figures, and Hollywood celebrities including Spiderman star Toby Maguire, Oscar winners Leonardo di Caprio and Ben Affleck. In May 2014, after pleading guilty to reduced charges she was sentenced to one year of probation, a $200,000 fine, and 200 hours of community service.
A film adaptation of her book, Molly’s Game starring Jessica Chastain and directed by Aaron Sorkin, was released last year and is now available on video.
Here is Molly Bloom’s story in her own words as told to The Carousel.
At 26, I was arrested by 17 FBI officers with automatic weapons. It came as a huge shock particularly as I hadn’t run a game for two years. My life was about super slowing down at that time.
Originally, I wanted to study law and I was a serious athlete. I was injured attempting to qualify for the 2000 winter Olympic Games. I was a mogul skier and came from a family of skiers. I didn’t even have a drink until my 21st birthday. I was very, very focused. When I hurt myself and crashed, it ended in retirement from that world and was a massive shock. My dreams were shattered and it made me question everything. I was trying to figure everything out. I have two brothers, one is an athlete prodigy. I saw them getting praise for what they did and that’s why I started doing what they did. Then it was over in an instant.
The ski accident triggered a moment for me, I kept thinking about what I would do, saying to myself, ‘Is this what I want?’ I was also in a lot of grief about experiencing the end of my ski career.
I wanted to go somewhere without constant reminders of that. So I went to LA to be a kid again. The idea was to visit LA before going on to law school.
Then I attended a poker game. Really, it was a complete accident I got involved. My parents were not interested in supporting me so I needed work. A guy had a bunch of friends who played this poker game and he asked me to serve drinks. At the game was Ben Affleck, Toby Maguire, rock stars and politicians in the room. I had a moment a 22 year old girl from small town doesn’t normally get. Not this sort of opportunity where I was getting $3,000 in tips.
Affleck was lovely and a really big tipper. And there was Toby. I don’t know who Toby is when he is at home but at a poker game he was out for blood. He wasn’t a friendly super hero. He was nice to me if I was agreeable to the way he wanted me to run the game.
I never saw or socialised with Toby outside of poker. But I can tell you in that room he certainly seemed pathologically focused. He was good at it. Everyone wanted to win. Not everyone spent the time on the game like him, he had a lot of focus. He would play….bluff. He would swear on his mother’s life he had a better hand. He was brutal .
I took over the game in the end. I rented a room at the Four Season Hotel and took it from this dingy basement. I raised the stakes from $10,000 to buy in to a $50,000 buy in.
The players wanted an experience. They wanted to walk into the room and feel experiences. I would memorise their personal preferences. I found new players. Everyone responded really well. Then Toby and I had a falling out. He found someone else to play and I left the game.
I went to New York and sought our Wall Street gamblers. This was in 2008 and this time it was five times bigger. The buy in was $250,000. People were winning and losing $10 million a night. l wanted to make sure I wasn’t replaceable like previously so I became the bank. I became too confident. It was not sustainable. I started taking drugs.
Then I had my Italian moment.
They (the mafia) approached me in New York City and wanted to partner with me. I said ‘no’ and they assaulted me. They stuck a gun in my mouth. It turned out to be someone in organised crime. It was a very scary time. I was chasing external validation. I wanted to drive good cars. I wanted to go where there was applause. I was seeking external adulation. I needed all this to feel better.
Finally, after the assault, I stopped chasing these shining things.
I now enjoy the good old life as a teacher. First, I needed to get sober. I joined the 12 step programme, which taught me a new way of living. Now I enjoy meditation twice a day. I have profoundly changed the way I feel and have become a seeker of understanding.
Now my days are pretty peaceful. I am writing my second book. I love seeing my family. I do a lot of public speaking. I like doing yoga and being in nature. Boring, huh but I kind of like sleeping now.
I don’t have kids and I’m not married but I am in a happy relationship and live in Denver, Colorado. All these things are now are feasible. They weren’t before I changed things. Life then was toxic.
The film Molly’s Game blew me away, especially Jessica Chastain’s portrayal of me. She was extraordinary. Jessica is wonderful and has such integrity. I can’t say enough about her. The film, well I can’t say enough about it, particularly Aaron Sorkin for directing the film. The story and they way they told it is gold. I feel very humble.
You can watch the film about Molly Bloom by purchasing the Digital/DVD & Blu Ray of Molly’s Game from Apple ITunes or www.entertainmentone.com.au