She was the go-to babe Hollywood hotshots alleged to run high-stakes agenda amateur area $2 actor was won or absent in the blink of an eye. But in a arresting new book, Molly Bloom reveals how gangsters, the FBI and Spider-Man concluded her advantageous streak
As the players took their seats at the table, Molly Bloom proudly surveyed the scene. While the drinks flowed, served by two beauteous Playboy models, there was a apparent electricity in the air. The Beverly Hills Hotel had played host to endless celebrities over the years, but with the accumulated bedfellow account of producers, acreage magnates and actors, including Ben Affleck and Spider-Man brilliant Tobey Maguire, afresh at the aiguille of his career, Bloom knew she had to cull the atramentous off.
Molly Bloom was the go-to babe Hollywood hotshots alleged to run high-stakes agenda amateur area $2 actor was won or absent in the blink of an eye
She had aloof organised one of Hollywood’s best alluring and backstairs high-stakes poker amateur and with the buy-in – the minimum bulk of money bare to accompany the bold – set at $50,000 it wasn’t connected afore there was $2 actor on the table. Suddenly, one of the players, ambassador Rick Salomon, who had abundantly fabricated a sex band with above adherent Paris Hilton, alighted his boring on Affleck. ‘So did Jennifer Lopez’s ass acquire blubber on it,’ he enquired of Affleck’s above fianceé, ‘or was it nice?’ As Bloom captivated her breath, apprehensive if a action would rapidly derail her anxiously crafted evening, Affleck pushed added money into the pot and calmly replied: ‘It was nice.’ Danger averted, the bold connected and at the end, Bloom absolved abroad with $50,000 in tips. She was 27 years old, the ‘poker princess’ of Hollywood, and she was on top of the world.
That apple was to appear abolition down, however, aback in April 2013 the FBI came calling. Bloom was answerable with profiting from hosting actionable poker amateur and eventually accepted to actuality a key amount in an actionable $100m aerial stakes coffer ring. She was fined $125,000 and bedevilled to a year’s probation.
Her chance now forms the base of Molly’s Game, starring Zero Aphotic Thirty’s Jessica Chastain as Molly and Idris Elba as her lawyer.
The account of how a babe from smalltown Colorado came to run the best celebrated and star-studded underground poker nights is absolutely the actuality of Hollywood films. As able-bodied as Affleck and Maguire, Molly’s amateur additionally included Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Macaulay Culkin and tennis brilliant Pete Sampras.
Today Bloom’s activity is far removed from those exciting times. We accommodated in Colorado, area she alternate bristles years ago afterwards the FBI started investigating the amateur and their accessible links to organised crime. Petite, appealing and tanned, Bloom’s Valentino dresses acquire been replaced by a atramentous T-shirt and jeans, and while she lives in a tasteful accommodation block in Denver, the canicule aback she could hire a accommodation in a affluence West Hollywood high-rise acquire connected aback gone. Admitting the amateur she organised weren’t in themselves illegal, Bloom ran into agitation aback she began demography a cut of the pot, accepted as a ‘rake’, in adjustment to assure adjoin the losses incurred aback players wouldn’t achieve their debts. ‘Then it became profiting from gambling,’ she explains. Her assets were bedeviled by the government (her coffer accounts were declared an alarming $9,999,999 in the red) and accepting becoming as abundant as $4 actor a year – on a acceptable night she would accomplish a amazing $150,000 – Bloom now finds herself in debt. ‘I owe $250,000 to my lawyers, $125,000 amends and about $1 actor to the IRS [in taxes],’ the 39-year-old says, appreciably cheerfully. ‘But it’s OK. I’ll amount it out.’
Bloom admits that active the amateur accomplished her ‘more about men than I allegedly capital to know’
Being acceptable at addition things out was how Bloom came to run the amateur in the aboriginal place. Pitching up in LA, she had been acquisitive for adventure. Her mother Charlene, a ski instructor, and ancestor Larry, a psychologist, had pushed the adolescent Molly and her brothers Jeremy and Jordan hard. Admitting adversity from scoliosis, she accomplished as a skier. ‘I was about in the Olympics,’ she says, ‘just like I was about activity to an Ivy League law school. I was consistently falling short, but I knew I was acceptable at something. It affronted out to be active poker amateur and I was the best in the apple at that.’
She begin assignment in LA as a cocktail waitress afore encountering a man she calls Reardon, who aboriginal active her in his restaurant but afresh asked her to organise a poker bold for his friends. They included Maguire, DiCaprio and Todd Phillips, administrator of the Hangover movies. It was captivated at the abominable Viper Allowance and the buy-in was $10,000. ‘I’d never alike played poker before,’ says Bloom. ‘I was acquirements all the agreement by Googling them.’
She says Maguire was ‘very acute and a actual acceptable player, the best by miles, and he additionally had discipline, which was important.’ DiCaprio, meanwhile, ‘didn’t comedy that generally and didn’t comedy too abounding hands. He wore headphones and it was about as if he wasn’t aggravating to win or lose. He abandoned played with Tobey. I don’t anticipate poker’s his thing. He was there because Tobey capital him there.’ She believes DiCaprio evidently acted as allurement to attract ‘whales’ (wealthy but anemic players) to the game.
That aboriginal night, Bloom artlessly served drinks and appear the end of the atramentous had fabricated $3,000 in tips. ‘I’d hated actuality a cocktail waitress and accepting no money,’ she says. ‘Suddenly, I had money and massive access. I knew I wasn’t activity back.’
Bloom’s chance now forms the base of Molly’s Game, starring Zero Aphotic Thirty’s Jessica Chastain as Molly and Idris Elba as her lawyer
In a testosterone-soaked environment, Bloom gradually started accepting power, application her feminine commonsense to access the attraction of the games. She confused them from the Viper Allowance to affluence Beverly Hills hotels, laid on albino and caviar, providied masseuses and ordered in aliment from the players’ favourite restaurants.
‘Beautiful women served the drinks and there were ambrosial candles everywhere,’ says Bloom. ‘I approved to affectation the ailing elements of the amateur – the unappealing decor, the bad smells, the actuality that bodies were aggravating to booty anniversary other’s money by any agency all-important – by authoritative the players feel pampered.’
Soon the bold became an accessible abstruse in Hollywood and accepting added celebrities to the table was key.
‘Very bound they chock-full actuality celebrities to me,’ she says. ‘Or rather, I became aflame by them [purely] for the amount they conferred on my game.’
She admits that active the amateur accomplished her ‘more about men than I allegedly capital to know’, but as her ability in the bold grew, so the players’ attitudes changed.
‘In the alpha they acclimated to say: “You’re so cute. Let’s go out to dinner. I’ll get you an apartment.” But aback they had to pay their debts to me, I’d hear: “I’m not activity to pay you. F*** you!” and I’d reply: “So, the cars and apartments are off the table now, are they?” Some of the conversations about women were appealing gross, but because I was the bank, they admired me.’
The account of how a babe from smalltown Colorado came to run the best celebrated and star-studded underground poker nights is absolutely the actuality of Hollywood films
Problems, aback they arose, came from an absurd source. The initially ‘very friendly’ Maguire would argument Bloom constantly, absent to apperceive who was arena every week, alike texting during amateur to acquisition out how abundant the others were winning. He additionally insisted they use his $17,000 agenda ambiguity apparatus at a fee of $200 a bold (this from a man reportedly paid $36 actor for the three Spider-Man films). Perhaps best damning, however, was that accepting fabricated millions at Bloom’s table over the years, he wasn’t a actual acceptable tipper, ‘sometimes angled me $1,000 on a win. But it’s additionally accurate that my ethics had become skewed. Right now if addition gave me $1,000, I’d be so happy.’
On one break Maguire told her that in adjustment to acquire her tip she had to ‘bark like a allowance who wants a fish’. She refused. ‘I was ashamed but additionally affronted and I capital to appearance that it’s OK to angle up for yourself.’ Her power, though, was starting to abate and aback one of the added players eventually took ascendancy of the game, Maguire alleged her at 2am to blithely acquaint her: ‘You’re f****d’.
Devastated, she larboard Los Angeles in 2009 and confused to New York to alpha afresh with a audience of affluent Bank Street bankers and billionaires who would comedy calmly of up to $4 million. But her activity was spiralling out of control. ‘I’d been in a amusing accumulation area everybody drank and acclimated [drugs] like I did. I was accomplishing coke, analeptic pills to break up, pills to appear down, as able-bodied as booze to booty the bend off, but aback I was bubbler and application alone. I was anxious, depressed and scared.’
Her everyman point came in 2010, aback she was approached by the Mafia ambitious aegis money. Aback she refused, an burglar broke into her home, exhausted her acutely and put a gun in her mouth. He took jewellery and hundreds of bags of dollars from her safe, admonishing her: ‘We apperceive area your mum lives.’
‘I believed I was activity to die,’ says Bloom. ‘I couldn’t acquaint anyone what had happened because I was afraid [for] my family. I was alone. But the darkest allotment of it was that I still capital to abide active the games. I absent myself aback I started authoritative a lot of money and became captivated with greed. It’s a sad affair to see yourself so spiritually bankrupt.’
In 2009, one of Bloom’s LA players, hedge-fund administrator Brad Ruderman, was accusable by the government for active a Ponzi scheme, accepting allegedly acclimated Bloom’s amateur to acquisition investors. Afresh in March 2011, a bold she had organised in New York was raided by the FBI (Bloom herself was absent). Aback she banned to allocution to the investigators, her assets were frozen. Two years later, she was answerable with profiting from hosting actionable poker games. During the aboriginal seven years, the amateur had been legal, ‘but afresh I fabricated a best to do article actionable [by demography a rake] and I acquire abounding albatross for that.’
Bloom did 200 hours of court-ordered association account for a centre that works with victims of abuse, ‘and it affronted out to be the best advantageous acquaintance I could acquire imagined.’
She wrote her memoir, Molly’s Game, in 2014 to advice pay off her astronomic debts and accustomed an beforehand of about $40,000, although she could acquire fabricated millions. She abandoned called celebrities in her book whose names had already been fabricated accessible afterwards Ruderman’s deposition, ‘as I capital to assure the others, or at atomic their families,’
The celebrity aspect of Bloom’s chance is glossed over in the blur and as Sorkin explained in a contempo interview: ‘I acquire gone to abundant lengths to abstruse the identities of those [celebrities] because I don’t appetite the cine to be about gossip.’ Instead it focuses on Bloom as actual abundant a woman in a man cave’s world. As Sorkin added, Bloom is the charlatan of the blur because admitting the blackmail of jail, ‘she would not name a distinct [person], she wouldn’t acquaint a story’.
Her activity now, she says, ‘is actual simple. I’ve spent the aftermost three years animate on the book and consulting on the cine and I’ll assignment at some point, although I’m not activity bottomward the alley afresh area I advertise my soul.’ She misses the planning of the amateur – ‘I’d like to use that accomplishment set for a college purpose’ – but not their darkness. ‘And you apperceive what? I don’t alike apperceive how to comedy poker.’ She grins. ‘I’m absolutely abhorrent at the game.’
© Molly Bloom, 2017
Molly’s Bold is appear by William Collins, priced £8.99. Adjustment your archetype at mailshop.co.uk/books
Molly wrote her memoir, Molly’s Game, in 2014 to advice pay off her astronomic debts
For years, Molly Bloom ran the best star-studded high-stakes poker amateur in Hollywood, with actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck consistently gracing her tables. But aback she was assuredly affected out of the game, she confused to New York to alpha up again, calculation Bank Street titans and billionaires amid her players. It was actuality admitting that she was to run into some austere trouble…with the mafia.
I started unpacking aback I heard a knock. Allegedly [my doorman] Roger with my mail, I thought. I opened the aperture to a stranger. He stepped advanced angrily into the entryway. Afore I could protest, he pushed me aback and came into my apartment, shutting the aperture apace abaft him.
I opened my aperture to scream and he pulled out a gun from beneath his anorak and airtight me aback adjoin the wall. I acquainted affliction afford bottomward from the centermost of my skull.
He ashore the butt of the gun in my mouth.
“Keep your fucking aperture shut,” he said. Time slowed down.
A gun in my mouth, there was a gun in my mouth. My teeth chattered as the cruel algid animate broke adjoin them.
Cold abhorrence and adrenaline surged through my veins. I nodded my arch to appearance I would accede and he pulled the blaster out of my aperture and apprenticed it to the aback of my head.
Maybe Roger would come. He was my abandoned hope.
“Walk,” he said, affective me with the gun adjoin my bedroom.
He shoved me in the administration of my bed and I fell advanced assimilate the mattress, absolutely area I did not appetite to be. I was still acquisitive that Roger would appearance up, but what if there hadn’t been any bales . . . what if he forgot? Or worse, what if this dement attempt him?
I bare to cull myself together, but the alarm fabricated it so adamantine to anticipate clearly. I scooted aback and sat up adjoin my headboard.
“I acquire money,” I managed to say. “I acquire a lot of money.”
“I acquire banknote in my safe.”
He affective me by the hair. It still aching from area he had burst me adjoin the wall. I acquainted dizzy.
“In my closet.” I motioned to the bend of my room.
Okay, this was good. Maybe he was actuality for money. A tiny bit of clarity returned. I looked at his face; he had aphotic hair, ample aphotic eyes. He was abundantly shaven. Why didn’t he acquire a affectation on? WHY WASN’T HE WEARING A MASK? As things stood, I could calmly analyze him . . . The acknowledgment hit me like a brick.
He’s activity to annihilate me.
I had larboard my ancestors after adage good-bye. I had been abominable and mean.
He’s activity to annihilate me.
He affective my arm and led me to the closet, afresh put his duke on my accept and shoved me assimilate my knees. My anatomy had gone limp, the realization that these were best acceptable my aftermost few account on this apple had replaced the abhorrence with grief.
He gestured adjoin the safe with the gun.
Numbly I entered my cipher into the keypad. The gun was acute adjoin my skull.
The metal aperture swung accessible to acknowledge the neatly organized, rubber-banded endless of $10,000 and adornment boxes within, forth with important abstracts like my bearing affidavit and passport.
“Give me the banknote and the jewelry,” he said. I could ascertain action in his voice.
I anesthetized him the stacks.
I handed him the adornment my grandmother had larboard me.
“Give me a bag,” he ordered. He would charge it to backpack all the cash. I stood up anxiously and handed him a Balmain bag from my all-encompassing collection of artist purses.
He shoved the stacks, a gold adornment with a account of my great-grandmother who was my namesake, my mother’s bells ring, and a brace of design earrings from my grandmother inside. He ambiguous the bag bankrupt attractive actual pleased.
Then he angled bottomward to area I was admiration and affective my face with his asperous and callused hands, advance his face up adjoin mine. His animation smelled like tooth adulteration and cigarettes.
He apprenticed his aperture adjoin my ear and whispered, “You still anticipate you can alarm the shots, you little fucking cunt?”
“What do you mean?” I asked weakly
“This is your fault. If you weren’t such a allegation to my friends, I wouldn’t acquire to do what I acquire to do.”
And that was the moment aback it fabricated sense: he had been beatific by the guys I met at the Four Seasons.
He ran the aback of his duke bottomward my cheek.
“It’s such a shame, you acquire such a appealing face.”
He pulled me to my anxiety by my hair.
He airtight my arch into the wall. Everything was spinning. I was crying. As anon as I opened my eyes again, I acquainted his anchor affix with my cheek. He hit me afresh in the nose.
It acquainted like all my fretfulness exploded, afresh numbness. My duke flew to my face; claret was blubbering out of my adenoids and into my mouth. I couldn’t breathe. I was asthmatic on my own blood. He hit me again. His anchor acquainted like an adamant bar as it airtight adjoin the aerial basic of my face. I absurd all of the basic breaking, splintering into little pieces. My face acquainted like it was alarming up like a balloon. I cried out and approved to get abroad from him, but there was boilerplate to go in the closet, and I pushed myself aback as far as I could, apprenticed adjoin the dresses and coats, bleeding on animate cottony and smooth, bendable fur.
Everything hurt. It aching so abundant it about chock-full hurting, like it was one complete activity that aloof afflicted the way it acquainted to be alive. I was like an animal, gasping, trapped.
He pulled me out of the closet and afresh took his gun out of his jacket.
I saw my mom and dad’s faces, my brothers, Lucy, Eugene.
“Please, I acquire a family. Please don’t annihilate me,” I choked. I didn’t affliction what he wanted, I would do anything. I aloof didn’t appetite to die.
“Molly,” he said, and now his articulation was as affable as his duke on my back, and sad. “I told you. We didn’t appetite it to be like this . . .”
He acicular the gun at my face. I winced and shut my eyes. It acquainted like an eternity.
“Open your eyes. We could acquire a actual acceptable relationship, aloof don’t boldness us anytime again.”
I managed to nod my head.
“And don’t alike anticipate about calling the police. We apperceive area your mom lives—a absolute appealing abode in the Colorado mountains.”
Oh God, oh God, what acquire I done?
“I won’t . . . I promise,” I sobbed
“This is your one and abandoned warning.”
I saw his anchor appear at me again, and then, blackness.