Breaking the silence she has maintained since her eponymous book was released in 2014, former skier turned poker “fixer” Molly Bloom talked about her life as THE biggest poker organizer in the world at a forum in California recently.
Bloom, who has kept a decidedly low profile since releasing Molly’s Game in 2014 and the work of screenwriter Aaron Sorkin with his first directorial effort in the film of the book, has been gradually upping her visibility of late. First was the premiere of the film in Toronto (which required Bloom to ask for and receive a waiver for entry into Canada because she is a convicted felon), which has received very strong reviews. Now, looking to perhaps promote the movie further, Bloom took part in Fortune’s Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in Laguna Niguel.
Bloom’s interview on the forum was moderated by Fortune’s Pattie Sellers, who didn’t shy away from the tough questions. Sellers asked about Bloom’s motivation for getting into the underground world of poker and Bloom, to her credit, didn’t shy away either. “The motivations I had for being successful were somewhat dysfunctional,” Bloom started. “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.”
That led Bloom, as most of the poker world knows, into hosting some of the highest stakes cash games in California and New York. Along with having the crème of Hollywood’s elite at her tables, including actors, directors, stockbrokers, hedge fund managers and other businessmen, Bloom oversaw millions of dollars that she earned. “In 2009, my tax returns showed over $4 million,” Bloom commented to Sellers.
It would also have its downside. “I didn’t have the traditional resource to collect on debts,” Bloom stated, meaning the ability to strong arm those who didn’t pay their debts. “One night, I saw someone lose $100 million.” This led to Bloom starting to take a rake from the games (“That’s where I crossed that little gray line,” she noted) and bullying from the Russian mob (who wanted a cut of her New York game or see that it ended). It also saw Bloom get into the vices of drugs and alcohol.
Sellers gets right to the point at the end of the forum interview. What was it that did Bloom in? Sellers lists off the usual suspects – greed, ambition, naivete – and Bloom responded truthfully. “I think it was all those things. I was in way too deep.” If there was a bright side to the situation, Bloom felt that she had found her footing as a businesswoman in a field that is utterly dominated by men. “I was (not an) object of desire,” she ends her discussion with Sellers by saying. “I was someone who let them have their money to play the game – or I didn’t.”
As stated earlier, premieres and screenings of Molly’s Game have been well received by the movie industry. Currently the website Rotten Tomatoes has a 95% freshness rating on the film after 37 reviews. There has also been talk about Academy Award nominations for Bloom’s portrayer in the film, actress Jessica Chastain, for the male lead in the film Idris Elba (who plays Bloom’s attorney) and for Sorkin’s adaptation of the film from Bloom’s book.
With Bloom offering more background into her life as THE biggest poker organizer in the game, she certainly is building interest in the film. Molly’s Game is set to premiere in wide release on December 22 (Christmas weekend), which would qualify it for this year’s Academy Awards (and others’) consideration. While it may not be the “poker movie” that most in the poker community want, it seems that the general public thinks it will be the “poker movie” they want to see.