'Poker Princess' Molly Bloom: Mafia Put a Gun in My Mouth, Beat the Hell Outta Me

Molly Bloom recently appeared on the popular The Diary of a CEO podcast with host Steven Bartlett where she shared further details about the infamous Hollywood home games that put her freedom and life in jeopardy.

Dubbed the “Poker Princess,” Bloom helped run high-stakes poker games a decade ago involving A-list celebrities such as Tobey Maguire and Ben Affleck, along with billionaire entrepreneurs and investors.

Along the way, her life was threatened by mobsters, and she nearly ended up behind bars over how the game was run. The story was told in the autobiography Molly’s Game, also the title of a box office hit starring Jessica Chastain (Bloom) and Idris Elba (Bloom’s lawyer), although parts of the movie plot were jazzed up for Hollywood.

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molly bloom poker princess
Molly Bloom

Bloom, a former skier from Colorado who once had Olympic aspirations, told Bartlett that she vetted new players to the private games, which took place in the 2010s, “within an inch of their life.” She’d run background and financial checks on prospective players because so much money and so many high-profile people were involved.

But, as she explained, there were some shady characters who slipped through the cracks, such as a few “Russian-American businessmen” who had ties to the Russian mob and were involved in an illegal gambling ring and the largest insurance fraud scheme in New York’s history.

The feds then began investigating her poker game that had moved to New York’s iconic Plaza hotel. She, admittingly, began collecting rake out of the pots, which is illegal.

Bloom was making, according to her recollection, over $4 million per year running the games, although Houston Curtis, who now produces Bally’s Big Bet Poker LIVE, claims that he and Maguire were the ones mostly responsible for hosting the games and that Bloom was largely involved in building a clientele and providing players with drinks.

In Curtis’s 2020 book, Billion Dollar Hollywood Heist: The A-List Kingpin and the Poker Ring that Brought Down Tinseltown, he shares his story about the infamous celebrity poker games.

The poker princess said on the podcast that she received between 1% to 5% of the profits from winning players, which wouldn’t be much in a $1/$2 game. But there were often millions of dollars at stakes in her private games, meaning she’d make $20,000 or more on just one night.

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Molly Bloom
Molly Bloom on The Diary of a CEO.

The story Bloom told on The Diary of a CEO was similar to that of her autobiography, but she gave some additional details about just how dangerous the game became in 2013.

Due to how much money she was making, she said the Italian mob that had ties to illegal gambling wanted a piece of the pie. According to her comments on the podcast, she received a call from an apparent mobster who told her she must give his organization part of the profits, to which she politely declined.

By declining the request, it caused some serious issues for the poker game host and her life was put in jeopardy.

“They sent this terrifying guy to my apartment that put a gun in my mouth, something that you just never forget, and he beat the hell outta me and took everything in my safe, including photographs, a couple things that I had from my grandmother,” Bloom said.

During that violent encounter, the unnamed person who entered her apartment threatened further action against Bloom and her family. But she lucked out a bit when the crime organization that attacked her was arrested a few days later and she never heard from them again.

“I get a judge that’s very disappointed with me, but ultimately a pretty reasonable guy.”

Bloom also faced criminal action, including major fines and 10 years in prison. But in May 2014, she was sentenced to probation after she admitted to being a key player in a $100 million illegal gambling ring.

The former poker game runner said she felt a sense of relief after the judge informed her that she wouldn’t be going to federal prison. But her life and reputation changed forever.

“I get a judge that’s very disappointed with me, but ultimately a pretty reasonable guy who said, ‘listen, you were running poker games and it seems you’ve done a lot to change your life. I’m not going to sentence you to prison,'” Bloom recollects of her sentencing day. “It’s hard to adequately express to you how big that moment is.”

Catch the entire 94-minute interview with Molly Bloom on The Diary of a CEO below.

*Image courtesy of ctvnews.ca.

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