I’ve always said I don’t know how I would act in a situation I’ve never been in, and sometimes I get annoyed at those who criticize others for handling a situation they’ve never been in. For example, many sports fans love criticizing athletes who use steroids. So I went in with an open mind prior to reading Molly’s Game despite already knowing the basic story of how a so-called “Poker Princess” – Molly Bloom – went from cocktail waitress to running some of the biggest poker games in the world; illegally, of course.
But I wanted to hear her story, straight from her mouth, because the stories the media tells aren’t always the entire truth. Molly Bloom is a very attractive woman from Colorado who helped organize and then eventually operate a high stakes poker game at Los Angeles’ famous Viper Room nightclub (later moving it to Manhattan). This wasn’t an ordinary high stakes game. Tobey Maguire, Leonardo Dicaprio, and many others celebrities were regulars, along with wealthy businessmen.
What makes her story so intriguing is she seemed – at least to me – to have gotten caught up in the lifestyle and was faced with a tough dilemma: go for the money illegally (sort of) or get out with her morals intact. Easy choice, it would seem, for you and I. But, like I said at the outset, it’s probably a lot more difficult to make the right decision when actually faced with such a predicament.
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Early on in the book, Molly – intentionally or unintentionally – portrays herself as an innocent, 20-something cocktail waitress who moved to Hollywood with the same hopes and dreams as thousands of other people. She then began working for a wealthy bar owner/poker player named Reardon Green who, for lack of a better description, corrupted her.
Reardon convinced her to help him run the game and then, months later, turned the game over to her. Molly didn’t speak highly of Reardon at first because he was rude and arrogant, but she clearly learned a lot about operating a successful business from him. After Molly took over the game, it went from a popular high-stakes poker game to the biggest and best game around.
She made the game great because she kept the pros out, worked hard to recruit new players, and kept the regulars happy. Anyone with a hefty bankroll who enjoyed poker and wasn’t a pro flocked to the Viper Room in LA and then The Plaza Hotel when the game shifted to Manhattan, New York. But there was only one problem. What Molly was doing was illegal. Hosting a poker game isn’t illegal. Organizing a poker game for profit is. Bloom was taking a rake – thousands of dollars – and that made the game illegal.
I don’t want to give away too much of the book, so, to make a long story short, Molly’s game was eventually busted. Although she faced six months in the slammer, she was given probation and 200 hours of community service. What I took away from the book most was that it portrayed a small-town woman who was given an opportunity to make more money than she could ever dream of, but had to, in a sense, become a different person. Would you rather be wealthy and famous or middle class and just a Random Joe (or Jane)? Morals versus greed. That was Molly’s dilemma.
What Do I Think of Molly Bloom?
As mentioned, I don’t like judging people through stories I read on Huffington Post or CNN. Truths are often fabricated and nearly every writer has an agenda. After reading her book, my opinion of Molly Bloom has changed in some ways and remained the same in others.
If you’ve only read news stories about Molly, your opinion of her wouldn’t be favorable. You would probably see her as the stereotypical greedy woman who only cares about herself and money. But if you read the book, you’ll see a completely different side of the so-called ‘Poker Princess’.
In my opinion, the money wasn’t really what mattered to her. Sure, she seemed to brag a bit in the book about the fancy clothes, cars, etc. she could afford to buy, and how she rolled around town with fat stacks of cash, but I got the impression that the need for money had more to do with impressing her family than anything else.
Her poker game was her release. She felt on top of the world. When the game was going, she didn’t care about her judgmental family or the many people who she felt had taken advantage of her. She was the HBIC. It was her game. She was proud of that. Here is an excerpt from the book that I found to be quite telling:
“The game was my entry into any world I wanted to be a part of. The hedge-fund world. The art world. I could do a game with politicians, artists, royalty. Every subset of every society had gamblers within it, and unearthing them was my specialty.”
– Molly Bloom
Molly’s previous life as “nothing more than a pretty face” seemed so lame. Her new life as a wealthy, high-stakes poker game operator with a pretty face made her feel alive. But with that newfound exciting lifestyle came risk. Not only did she have to keep the game on the down low to avoid the feds, but she was also dealing with powerful people who could harm her if she did something to upset them. She was robbed in her own place at gunpoint because she angered the wrong people.
This was the lifestyle she chose. To her, the reward outweighed the risk. Does that make her a bad person because she sacrificed her morals to make millions and try to impress her family? Not in my opinion. All she did was put together a poker game for wealthy people and take a rake. She didn’t kill or steal. I think Molly Bloom would be an interesting person to meet.
My Opinion of Molly’s Game
When it comes to books, I’m tough to please. I read. A lot. But I don’t read a lot of books anymore because I’m always too busy. I must say though that I’m glad I was given a copy of this book. The book gave me Molly’s side of the story. I got to learn about her struggles, her background, and the true Molly instead of the Molly Bloom portrayed by the media.
Molly is an excellent writer. This is a well-written book that answers all the questions about who she is, where she came from, how she became the “Poker Princess”, and why her poker game meant so much to her. I’m not much of a book salesman, but if you love poker (and obviously you do since you’re here at Cardplayer Lifestyle) and stories about determined individuals who defy odds to achieve greatness and then have their empire come crumbling down, go out and purchase a copy of Molly’s Game. You won’t be disappointed.
You can purchase Molly’s Game on Amazon in paperback, hardcover, Kindle, and other editions and formats.