Molly Bloom (@immollybloom) is an entrepreneur, speaker, and author of Molly’s Game: The True Story of the 26-Year-Old Woman Behind the Most Exclusive, High-Stakes Underground Poker Game in the World.
What We Discuss with Molly Bloom:
- What Molly Bloom learned by running underground poker games for some of the world’s wealthiest and well-known.
- The psychology Molly used to control the games — and their players.
- The secrets of generating rapport and trust among those who aren’t in the habit of trusting anyone.
- The strategies Molly utilized to become indispensable to her players.
- How Molly got involved in the world of poker in spite of unlikely beginnings, and what happened to make her quit it for good.
- And much more…
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Molly’s Game: The True Story of the 26-Year-Old Woman Behind the Most Exclusive, High-Stakes Underground Poker Game in the World author Molly Bloom didn’t set out to run the most celebrated game in town, get taken down by the FBI, or have a movie made about her experiences, but here we are.
In this episode, Molly shares the business and psychology lessons she learned over eight years of running these underground poker games, why she took responsibility for her actions instead of selling out her former clientele when the FBI showed up on the scene, and what she’s looking forward to next. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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More About This Show
Before she lived the events documented in her book Molly’s Game: The True Story of the 26-Year-Old Woman Behind the Most Exclusive, High-Stakes Underground Poker Game in the World, Molly Bloom had been a straight A student and Olympic-class skier from Colorado. So what led to her rise and eventual fall in the underground poker circuit?
“I think that a huge factor here was that I was born with this hard-driving ambition and with this, from the get go, need and desire to be significant and to be seen as significant,” says Molly. “Unfortunately for me, I was born into a family with two brothers who were legitimate prodigies early on.”
One brother went on to become a Harvard-educated cardiothoracic surgeon, and the other is a two-time Olympian and the youngest freestyle skier in history to be inducted into the United States Skiing Hall of Fame.
“Starting with my dinner table, I was never the most talented or the smartest person in the room — combined with this deep need to be someone special,” Molly says. “I went out into the world feeling invisible, feeling like I want to matter. I wanted to be an Olympic skier — that’s the first thing I wanted to do. I didn’t have the natural talent that my brother had, and on top of that I was diagnosed with scoliosis.”
Even after undergoing painful surgery and being told she would never ski again, Molly persevered to make it all the way to the Olympic qualifiers until a freak accident took her off that path for good.
“I was in my last year at University of Colorado,” says Molly. “I’d done extremely well on the LSATs — I had a 3.9 GPA and I was headed to a future of law school. I just wanted to take a year off before becoming super serious again. I went to L.A. and needed to get the first job that I could. I got hired by this guy who was a pretty demanding boss; I was his personal assistant. One day he said, ‘I need you to serve drinks at my poker game.’ I googled ‘What kind of music do poker players like to listen to and what do they eat?’ Very professional and sophisticated!
“I actually made this embarrassing playlist with songs like The Gambler on it and I’d bring my playlist and my cheese plate and I’m thinking the players are going to be these overgrown frat boys, but Ben Affleck walks in the room, and Leo DiCaprio, and a politician who was very well-recognized, and heads of studios, and heads of banks, and all of a sudden I had this light bulb moment that a young girl from Loveland, Colorado at 23 years old doesn’t get this opportunity to network with people like this. This is a very strange and unusual opportunity and I saw it as access to money and to power and to information — and I wanted to stay in the room.”
Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about what Molly did to stay in the room, the tactics she learned for navigating her shady boss’ impossible requests, why Hollywood in particular is such a ripe environment for making people feel like they don’t matter, how Molly was able to use her high-stakes poker games as a trojan horse for networking and infiltrating any subset of society, the psychology Molly used to control the games — and their players, the secrets of generating rapport and trust among those who aren’t in the habit of trusting anyone, the strategies Molly utilized to become indispensable to her players without appearing obvious or needy, Molly’s observations on the power of fear, celebrity quirks you’re curious about even though you wish you weren’t, and much more.
THANKS, MOLLY BLOOM!
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Click here to thank Molly Bloom at Twitter!
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Resources from This Episode:
- Molly’s Game: The True Story of the 26-Year-Old Woman Behind the Most Exclusive, High-Stakes Underground Poker Game in the World by Molly Bloom
- Molly’s Game (film)
- Molly Bloom’s Website
- Molly Bloom at Instagram
- Molly Bloom at Twitter
- The Gambler by Kenny Rogers
Transcript for Molly Bloom | The One Who Makes the Rules Wins the Game (Episode 120)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:00] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with my producer, Jason de Philipo. Several years ago when I was living in New York City, I met a guy that was an underground poker player. At first I thought he was just a blowhard who had had a bit too much whiskey and maybe got lost in his own tall tales. I later learned through actual photographic evidence on his phone that not only was everything he was saying likely true, but there was a lot, a lot more to the story, and as poker underworld that he'd been participating in was really something else. Fast forward to today, and I'm getting a look even deeper inside the world of underground poker and the ridiculousness that goes down during these elite games played by A-list, athletes and celebrities with tens of millions of dollars changing hands all the time. Who better to hear it all from than Molly Bloom, the woman behind poker games so legendary, that the name Molly's Game ended up not only being the codename of these high stakes tables but also the title of her bestselling book and a feature film by Aaron Sorkin.
[00:00:59] Today, Molly's going to take us behind the curtain and tell us what she's learned running games and running game on some of the wealthiest and most well-known people in the world. What types of psychology she used to control the games and the players in them. Rapport secrets for generating trust with people who don't trust anyone, and how it all came crashing down. Lots of insight and excitement in this episode of the Jordan Harbinger Show here with Molly Bloom, and if you want to know how I managed to get all these great people on the show and manage my connections and relationships using systems and tiny habits. So check out Six-Minute Networking. It's a free course that we have for you about networking, relationship development, maintaining these tiny habits in just a few minutes per day that will help you have people text you and say, “Hey, do you want to interview Molly Bloom?” and send you a link because that's how most of the stuff seems to happen to me lately. That courses at jordanharbinger.com/course. That's jordanharbinger.com/course. All right, here's Molly Bloom.
[00:01:56] So you start a legendary poker game and you get involved at the most base of levels with some of the most famous people, and you saw their dirty laundry and I think you are around when some of the dirty laundry was soiled, so to speak. You've got a gun shoved in your mouth by a mobster arrested by the FBI in a dramatic takedown, reminiscent of any Hollywood movie. How the heck did a straight A student and champion skier make that slide? I want to start from the beginning here with like the childhood because everything that it happened when you were a kid kind of informs how the heck you ended up waking up one day, getting your butt kicked by the Italian mob.
Molly Bloom: [00:02:35] I agree with you, and I think those seeds were planted early on and just took a while to grow. I think that a huge factor here was that I was born with this hard driving ambition and with this from the get go need and desire to be significant and to be seen as significant. And unfortunately for me, I was born into a family with two brothers who were legitimate prodigies early, early on. So Jordan is --
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:09] Great name by the way.
Molly Bloom: [00:03:12] In the tradition of all Jordans. Jordan was a genius, bonafied genius and he went on to be a Harvard educated cardiothoracic surgeon, but he just presented as a genius early on, beating my dad in chess, testing out of his classes and into mine. And Jeremy wasn't athletic prodigy. Jeremy was number one in the world at 19 years old in skiing. He's a two time Olympian and he got drafted fifth round to the Philadelphia Eagles. So starting with my dinner table, I was never the most talented or the smartest person in the room, combined with this deep need to be someone special. And so I kind of went out into the world feeling invisible, feeling like I want to matter and I wanted to be an Olympic skier. That's the first thing I wanted to do. I didn't have the natural talent that my brother had. And on top of that, at 12 years old, I was diagnosed with scoliosis. I had to go in for this gnarly surgery where they fused the top 11 vertebrae together in my back put two metal rods on the side. The doctor said I would never ski again. In a year, I was back on the slopes, and then I made the US Ski Team, was third overall in North America, made it all the way to the Olympic qualifiers.
[00:04:29] I basically skied over a little stick and my ski pre-released 20 feet in the air got really injured and had to quit. And I was in my last year at University of Colorado, I'd done extremely well on the LSATs. I had a 3.9 GPA, and I was headed to just sort of a future of law school and everything, and I just wanted to take a year off before becoming super serious again. And I went to LA, and needed to get the first job that I could and got hired by this guy who was a pretty demanding boss. I was his personal assistant. One day he said, “I need you to serve drinks at my poker game.” So I'm like, “Okay, great.” I Googled like, what kind of music do poker players like to listen to and what do they eat.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:20] Wow, okay.
Molly Bloom: [0:05:20] I’m trying to figure out.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:21] Super qualified for this position?
Molly Bloom: [00:05:22] Yes, exactly, exactly. Very professional and sophisticated. And I actually made this embarrassing playlist with songs like the gambler on it and I bring my playlist and my cheese plate and I'm thinking like the players are going to be these overgrown frat boys. But then Ben Affleck walks in the room and Leo DiCaprio, and a politician that was very well recognized and heads of studios, heads of banks and all of a sudden I had this light bulb moment that a young girl from Loveland, Colorado at 20 years old doesn't get this opportunity to network with people like this. This is a kind of a very strange and unusual opportunity and I saw it as access to money and to power and to information and I wanted to stay in the room for these reasons.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:15] Yeah, I mean you weren't wrong. You did -- that is access to power to money. I mean just the fact that you're in the same room, it's kind of like, “Hey, I don't necessarily want to do this favor for this young lady, but I've been coming to this poker game for a few months and she's probably seen something.” So maybe I should just like stay on this person's good side and make the call. And I'm imagining the politician is Bernie Sanders. I know that's not the case, but I would love it if it were.
Molly Bloom: [00:06:42] Oh, that game was too rich for Bernie's blood.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:45] I think so. I think so, yeah. I would love to think that Bernie has this side where he has a couple of scotches and he's the instigator of all the crap and nobody knows.
Molly Bloom: [00:06:54] Of like maths of capitalism and debauchery.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:57] Right. And he's like always the one who's like, “Yo, let's get some girls in here.” And you're just like, “Oh Bernie, come on, man! You're cut off.”
Molly Bloom: [00:07:04] Bernie no. Yeah, no he can't do this, it's bad for you. It's bad luck for you.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:09] All right, so your boss reared and by the way, who sounds like a horrible person and you learned something from him. Like he treats you like a piece of garbage, but he's a great kind of hustler in a way.
Molly Bloom: [00:07:24] Yeah. I learned a lot about business. A lot of it was who I don't want to be in business, but a lot of it was these sort of lessons that I don't necessarily know if you learn getting an MBA, it's sort of like you got to get out into the world and see how it operates and see the backend of deals and how people behave.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:43] He actually put a lot of pressure on you and you develop some interesting tricks. One, which I think is kind of a dastardly effective tactic is this lost reservation. He would come into the office and say like, “Hey, get me a reservation for the most impossible restaurant in the city tonight for four people,” and you're just like, “Are you kidding? This place is booked up three months in advance.” Can you tell us about this? Because this isn't like a pro tip. I think it's more like unethical life pro tip, but it's so interesting that anybody -- I mean you innovated this because you had two or you were going to get your butt kicked by this jerk, right?
Molly Bloom: [00:08:17] Right, right. So I would call the restaurant and I would say, “Hey, I'm just -- ypu know I'm just calling to confirm a reservation. It's for our 25th anniversary. We're flying in, we're so excited. I just want to make sure we're at a table by the window because I have this big bouquet of flowers,” or just like building this whole thing up. And they're like, “Yeah, just a minute.” And they searched for the reservation that's not there. And then you talk on their heartstrings and they think they messed up and then they magically find your reservation so they don't get in trouble.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:49] Right. Like, “Oh, here it is. Of course.” I thought this is uniquely brilliant because here's amateur way. “Hey, I'm just calling to confirm my reservation.” “Yeah, we don't have it.” Oh, but I made it so long ago.” Yeah, right, and you're just randomly calling beforehand to confirm it. Sometimes people do that, but mostly they don't. But if you're like, “Hey, I just want to make sure we have a table by the window because it's a special occasion, and by the way I'm going to have flowers, do you have something that you can do with those? Then they're like, “Oh crap, that's so specifically legitimate.” Right?
Molly Bloom: [00:09:17] Right, right. And also I just kind of thought to myself like most of the people that are working at these restaurants are just like me. They're not these like sophisticated, important, self-important people, they're just people. So I just need to figure out a way to kind of trick them or appeal to their humanity, something like that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:40] Yeah. And you do a great job in the book about describing how absolutely ridiculous the Hollywood scene people are on. And I used to live in Hollywood as well, so I get the excessively flamboyant, pretentious stuff, and I've trained executive protection guys, so like body guard type people. So I hear and see myself some of the access -- some of the things that these guys have access to, and it's a little -- it's a little bananas. And I really appreciated that about the book because I could tell that it wasn't fictionalized that at least not that much, unanalyzed people and things like that. But the idea that you would walk into a store and have that sort of pretty woman experience where they're like, “Oh, what do you want?” Because you're like visibly too poor to shop there. I was like, “Oh I know that feeling,” when you walk in and the guy at the $2,000 wallet store is like, “What do you even want? I'm not even going to talk to you.” Right?
Molly Bloom: [00:10:33] Yeah, and now we know that they're acting like that because they got treated like that and they think that that's what's what flies, you know?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:40] Right, right. Exactly.
Molly Bloom: [00:10:41] And now you know how to circumvent it. But at that time, God, there's nothing like Hollywood to make you feel like you don't matter.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:48] Yes, exactly. It's like the whole mission of that town is to make you feel like crap and have low self-esteem
Molly Bloom: [00:10:54] Like you feel small, and if you're walking into it already kind of feeling like that. And I didn't see it the very first night, but over time I saw the immense hole that this game had over these guys and I was like, “Wow! If I can control this game, I can control these people. I don't have to be small and unimportant anymore.” That was my 23 year old like light bulb moment. There was a couple of them, one of them was network. The other one was poker is my Trojan horse, whatever I want to get into right now, I can infiltrate any subset of society by just inviting that person, that representative of that world. So like I wanted to invest in art, I've invited art dealers. I wanted to learn about tech, I invited tech luminaries, like it was such an incredible way to infiltrate. And then the last one, which was definitely more sort of born of childhood dynamic and kind of what we opened up with was, “Oh, I know how to get powerful. I just need to control and have power over this game because it has this incredible hold over these people.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:03] I think the strategy to become indispensable to the players without being needy or obvious about it is brilliant because it would have been really easy for you to go, I have to be cool and friends with everyone and be really fun. And then they're like, “Oh, your girl number 7,000 trying too hard to get us to like her so that you have access to the scene.”
Molly Bloom: [00:12:24] Right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:25] You saw that and you didn't do that, right? You purposely did not go down that route.
Molly Bloom: [00:12:30] Right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:30] But you also didn't seem to overcompensate the other way where a lot of people would be like, I'm just going to pretend that I'm bored with all of you guys. And then they'll chase me and it's like, “Yep, seen that game too.” You balanced it really well. And if somebody finds himself in a situation, let's say they're not running a poker game in an elite Hollywood situation, but let's say that they are the lowest man or woman on the totem pole and they get invited to their CEO’s meetings and they're in the room, how would you take that skillset that you built and apply it to that type of situation? Molly Bloom: [00:13:04] Well, I think it's hard in a one off because you can't do too much. You sort of have to blend in in the beginning. But if you are consistently invited to these meetings or you find yourself more than one time, a couple times in this environment, because I think it's so important in the beginning to blend in and read it, you know? Because if you don't know the tempo, if you don't know the tone, it's going to come -- you're not going to know like how it goes and it's going to come off as awkward. So I think you want to sort of blend in at first, read it, read the situation, figure out how you can start to solve problems that you aren't even asked to solve. Figure out how you can put your head down, work harder than everyone else and come up with innovative solutions to these problems that other people aren't coming up with. And then the number one key, if you have some time in these rooms, God just make people feel special. Honestly, I think a Salesforce, building a brand, building a product like anything that I've ever -- the movie industry poker, just all these different things like figure out a way to work hard and make people feel special.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:14:10] You're listening to the Jordan Harbinger Show with our guests, Molly Bloom. We'll be right back.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:15] This episode is sponsored in part by The Great Courses Plus. Now, this is a sponsor that's been with us for a long time. They've got a lot of amazing stuff in there. I mean there's thousands of lectures inside The Great Courses Plus. They've got a brand new fascinating course that explores philosophy essentially the philosophy of happiness and productivity in the workplace, how to build a thriving workplace, a leaders guide. Now a lot of buzz going around about the workplace and happiness. And is your team happy? Are you going to be retaining people? It's a big problem here in Silicon Valley, staff's mental and physical health. The problem is a lot of leaders don't seem to care and a lot of other leaders don't seem to get how to structure the work environment for this and we see there's a massive ROI. Otherwise, why would Jason -- why would Google have sleep pods if people didn't need these kinds of benefits? If there was no ROI for this, right? They wouldn't have put that slide in there.
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[00:16:56] Don't forget we have a worksheet for today's episode so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Molly Bloom. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast, and thanks for listening and supporting the show. To learn more about our sponsors and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. If you'd like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe, and now back to our show with Molly Bloom.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:24] What are some of the ways in which you were able to make people feel special that you could throw out? Let's say you're talking to someone's executive assistant, they're Elon's executive assistant, so now they're in rooms all over the place, but there's still a 29 year old gal who just graduated four or five years ago, and now you're in this room with sort of with access, you're at least in the room. How do you make people feel special in a way that's appropriate and not just what people are envisioning right now, which is like being extra flirty or something silly basically?
Molly Bloom: [00:17:55] Yeah, no, no, flirty is not the way to go. Again, I think you really have to read your room. I think if you spend enough time with these people, you're going to see ways in, make sure everyone like is taken care of and everything. But I think a really important thing to do is to somehow procure a genuine curiosity about people and like really actually want to know their story and not just the story that's out there. Listen, remember the names that they talk about, remember the names of their kids, remember the things that they're going through. Become a really good curious listener and then retain information. It's always been incredible to me how far you can get in the world by just listening to people because most people are trying to talk to everyone, trying to talk about themselves, trying to get their agenda furthered. And I think if you learn how to be a good listener and you're A, you get to start retaining information, you get clues all over the place, and B, everybody wants someone that will just listen to them. That's why people pay so much money for therapists. That's why people are out there like promoting themselves on social media.
[00:19:03] I don't care if someone has $1 billion or $1, everybody wants to feel heard. Everybody wants to feel like they're important, like they matter. And a huge misconception is that people at that level with that fame and that fortune and everything, that they don't need anyone to talk to or they don't want anyone to listen, and that's not just not the truth. But I think it's really important to figure out how to cultivate an authentic curiosity because otherwise it's going to come off as an angle as inauthentic. And generally if you're dealing with people at the top, they're pretty smart and they can sniff that out. So that's why I think it's really important to like just figure out how to actually get curious about it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:19:42] I like that. I love the authentic curiosity angle. It works well when you're interviewing as well as when you're trying to ingratiate yourself with someone, because the other side of that is the whole like kind of fake inquisitive where or self-ingratiating where it's like “How did you become such a successful?” It's like look, ask questions that they're thinking about that are going to signal professionalism and signal that you've actually thought about the problem as well versus trying to get them to just talk about themselves because they've played that game by the time they're controlling--
Molly Bloom: [00:20:15] Yeah, for sure.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:15] Hundreds of millions of dollars in assets. And what I thought was really interesting about some of the players, I mean you've got in the book Toby Maguire, which is weird because he plays this nice boy on Spiderman, but he's just like a complete demon at the poker table and frankly otherwise and like the cheapness and the quirks and him making everyone rent this card shuffler. It's like this is a guy with millions of dollars. He brings a card shuffler and he's like, “Hey, we should use this machine,” and everyone's like “Fair enough.” And he's like, “Yeah, you have to pay me to use it.” I mean, what just weird situation and a lot of the people that joined the tables seem massively insecure except, and correct me where I'm wrong, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck's seem like they're comfortable in their own skin, at least according to the book, and a lot of the other guys do not.
Molly Bloom: [00:21:05] I don't know if I would actually say that anybody in the poker game in that setting seemed comfortable in their own skin.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:14] Really?
Molly Bloom: [00:21:17] And that was kind of shocking to me, and maybe it's the context. Maybe everybody -- maybe because it's this, you know, they're just walking in and they're getting ready to sit down and they've got adrenaline or anxiety or whatever. I don't know, maybe it's the context, maybe it's not. But actually Matt Damon seemed pretty comfortable in his own skin because he didn't seem like he was trying to be anybody. He was like this is a huge game, and he only played once. He was like, “What the hell?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:46] Yeah. He's probably like, “Ah, I'm not so good at this. I could lose a lot of money here. I'm not trying to front.”
Molly Bloom: [00:21:51] Yeah. It was just, in so many ways it was such an unreasonable room to be in.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:21:58] Yeah, I think even those guys don't find themselves in the same room hanging out ever, right?
Molly Bloom: [00:22:02] Yeah, and also there was just so much money at stake and it was such a proving ground.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:10] Yeah. Well of course, especially with all these egos in the line and other people watching. And what is the most money you've seen someone lose in one night?
Molly Bloom: [00:22:18] A $100 million.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:19] A $100 million over the course of what period of time?
Molly Bloom: [00:22:26] 15 hours.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:27] Okay. That's still, I don't even know why it matters. Like, “Oh, okay, well that's only $8 million an hour or whatever.
Molly Bloom: [00:22:35] That’s no way to cut that number up and make it sane.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:38] Right. Like if even if you scaled that out over an entire lifetime, it's still like, “Oh my God, that's ridiculous.”
Molly Bloom: [00:22:45] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:45] This is obviously they didn't carry a hundred million dollars in cash. This is all done on the books, I assume.
Molly Bloom: [00:22:50] Yeah, yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:22:50] And then how do you collect that?
Molly Bloom: [00:22:53] You know, ultimately I became the bank for these games. Ultimately, I vetted the players, I extended credit, and I covered if people didn't cover, so clearly I wasn't going to guarantee $100 million, I didn't have $100 million.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:09] Right.
Molly Bloom: [00:23:09] So I guaranteed up to a certain number in the game. And then I sat them all down and I said, “You guys, I'm collecting -- the game is collecting this first five no matter what. And then you guys that the other 95 or whatever lunatic number you decide to go in for is between you.” Because otherwise my game is just a Ponzi scheme right up. If I'm guaranteeing $100 million, and I don't have $100 million, that's fraudulent, so I can only guarantee up to a certain number per game. I was managing risk and I was looking at it formulaically and I really like was managing the whole -- the economics of it. But if he didn't pay that night, or if he didn't pay that week $5 million then I would then I would have to write that check.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:01] That would have been -- you must not have slept so well that night, I would imagine.
Molly Bloom: [00:24:06] I don't know if I slept well the entire duration, but I will tell you what. I had a pretty decent insurance policy in that as long as I made sure that I had the best product. That I had the best game, that I had the game that you could get paid out no matter what the credit was solid because that's not the case on the streets. Most of the game runners are playing, they're losing. You never know how much they're into four, and most of the game runners were running Ponzi schemes and that they had to get paid in order to pay out, so I had a fully capitalized game.
[00:24:43]I had no pros. Most of the guys would let in pros, because they would pay their rake. Up until the last like six months I had no rake, it was all based on tips. I would be very strategic about who I sat around the table because I knew there was nine seats and I knew that this was more than a poker game. This was an opportunity to hobnob with people like professional athletes and big celebrities, and also it was a very vibrant and rich opportunity to do business. Movies got made at that table. Hedge funds got started. So as long as I had this product, this game that was so far above everything else, and as long as I really did my background on are these people actually liquid, can they pay these debts? They would always pay because there was no other place to play quite like my game. As long as I stayed on top of that, I didn't really get stiff that often. I got stiffed so seldomly for how much credit I extended, it's pretty crazy.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:44] Of course, because nobody wants to lose their rep. It's worth more to them than the money at that point.
Molly Bloom: [00:25:48] Yeah. The social currency, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:25:50] Yeah, yeah. And by the way, $100 million in 15 hours, approximately $1,850 per second.
Molly Bloom: [00:25:58] Oh, good math.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:00] Well, Jason did that. I didn't just sit there and do that in my head.
Molly Bloom: [00:26:02] I need that stat though. That's pretty awesome.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:04] Yeah, 1850 per second. I did -- I was like, “Oh, let's go up to the minute,” and it was like “$111,000 per minute.”
Molly Bloom: [00:26:11] Oh my gosh.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:13] Yeah, yeah. So you can rock that if you want as well.
Molly Bloom: [00:26:15] All right, thank you guys.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:17] Yeah, you're welcome. I'm curious who is the most generous tipper and who is the cheapest? Because I can already cut off projects, but I'm so curious.
Molly Bloom: [00:26:25] My moral math in terms of who I named in the book where people that were already named in the press.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:30] Of course, yeah,
Molly Bloom: [00:26:32] And so of those people and the names we know and care about and of those people that were named Ben Affleck was a great tipper.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:41] That's good to hear. And I can that there's one guy you told you to bark like a seal in exchange for the tip that wasn't very nice.
Molly Bloom: [00:26:50] Yeah, no that wasn’t.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:50] Classic, classic Toby Maguire. It's so weird that he's mean, it's so weird being -- like watching comic movies that he's mean.
Molly Bloom: [00:26:57] Yeah, I know. I mean that's like always the surprising thing where you see these people's public persona in such a scale that way and you think you know who they are and then you meet them and you're like, “Oh wow, they're so different.” You know?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:10] Yeah. And I would imagine that to be the case. I have met Damon at a bar. He was super nice and no surprise there.
Molly Bloom: [00:27:14] He is just like a normal dude or at least that's how he presents.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:18] Sure, yeah. Well he is an actor who knows, who knows. Yeah, but money brings out a lot of truth about people, brings out a lot of human nature.
Molly Bloom: [00:27:26] It does.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:28] I'm wondering, what are some of the big truths that you learned running these games? Especially when it comes to things like pride, fear and ego.
Molly Bloom: [00:27:36] Fear and ego were the biggest dream killers in terms of like the reason that people lost the most money. Fear is the most dominant force at a poker table. And it doesn't matter that these people have so much money. Most of them are in so much fear of losing money in front of people, how they're going to appear to the crowd, and it just motivates so many of their decisions. And you can see extremely smart people who absolutely know the game and who absolutely know the numbers make really terrible decisions. And it's something that really solidified this belief in me that if you want to be dangerous in business, if you want to be dangerous in life, if you want to become a better version of yourself in business, to do real work on fear. And I can tell you that my strategy has been meditation, and it's been profound. But just to see how pervasive fear is at a poker table with people winning and losing money and negotiating and betting with each other and taking risks. It's insane. It's so destabilizing.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:49] That is super interesting and not, not totally shocking though, right?
Molly Bloom: [00:28:53] Yeah, no.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:54] Not totally shocking.
Molly Bloom: [00:28:55] It's so tied to identity I think, and survival, it's like in our limbic brain, I don't even think we fully process it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:03] Yeah, I think you're right. It's very limbic. It's limbic brain. It's the lizard brain if you will, where it's all tied, and so all these brilliant, smart people, and we've learned this on the show before, the smarter we are, the easier it is for us to rationalize emotion. So a really smart person will say--
Molly Bloom: [00:29:19] Totally.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:20] I'm not just being afraid for no reason. I'm being afraid because of all these complex things that are going on in their conscious brain. But really it's still that limbic system saying, “I'm afraid you're smart, figure out a reason why I'm afraid rather than I don't want to look dumb in front of all these actors.”
Molly Bloom: [00:29:34] Totally, totally, yep.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:36] So we've rationalized this and then we believe our own stuff because we're intelligent. That intelligence got us there in the first place.
Molly Bloom: [00:29:44] Yep, for sure.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:47] And I realized, look, you always had to change the location in this game.
A lot of security around it, a lot of mystery around it, which helps sort of sell the idea.
Molly Bloom: [00:29:56] Oh yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:29:56] How else did you use psychology to control the game and the logistics of the event itself?
Molly Bloom: [00:30:02] Sure. So I'm a daughter of a psychologist and a very vocal psychologist. We processed a lot at the dinner table ,and I hated it. Now I'm glad we did. And I also came to this poker game and to this world, innocent doesn't even cover it. I had no idea what I was doing or where I was in the weeds, but it almost worked for me because after I was at that first game, I went home and I was like, I want to be invited back next week. And so I learned about poker for the first couple of days and I learned the rules and the objectives, and I became fluent in the language. And then I spent the next six months studying the players and asking myself what's driving them? Like why do these guys with their access to any -- literally anyone and anything, why do they want to come to this dingy basement to play this game? And starting to figure out and unraveled that is what really enabled me to create something special. And there's a couple of things, these guys didn't want things they could buy all the things in the world. They wanted experiences. They wanted the fantasy. They wanted to walk into this room and feel like they were someone in somewhere else, like James Bond.
[00:31:19] So I started to build on that fantasy and I just kind of looked at what Vegas was doing. Palatial spreads, beautiful people, memorizing their drink orders and their food orders and getting special pillows for them, whatever, customized experience. The economics matter for fantasy. I knew this game could sustain a bigger buy-in. It was hard for me to kind of figure out how big it could sustain, but raising the stakes from 10 to 50,000 certainly contributed to that. Staking celebrities in the game that weren't playing was a huge asset because this game a lot about what this game and this fantasy and everything created but this mythology.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:01] When you say staking, you mean like finding a celebrity connection who would never really come in and play on their own and being like, “Look, I'll give you the money and just sit there and slowly lose it.”
Molly Bloom: [00:32:10] Yeah, yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:11] Or lose it as slowly as possible, and if you win you can keep it, but like try to stay in the game for four hours.
Molly Bloom: [00:32:16] Yeah, because look, if you get a Leonardo DiCaprio there who's not a poker player, you would never come and buy it on his own. If you get a Leo DiCaprio there, and also you've got this huge buy-in game. Everyone leaves, they get on the phone with their friends. They're like, “I played with Leonardo DiCaprio and so and so lost 1,000,005,” and all of a sudden you've got all this ripple effect in this game starts to generate this huge a mist shrouded in mystery, shrouded in prestige and it's at a secret location, and I think you got to think about it like you're a storyteller. And people love to tell stories, people are so drawn to myths and stories, and they love to feel like they're part of something or they have this information about this thing and so focusing on, on not only the experience while they're there but also the experience they get to have being part of this community and telling these stories and giving them fodder for their stories was something that was really important too.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:33:16] You're listening to the Jordan Harbinger Show with our guests, Molly Bloom. We'll be right back after these messages.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:22] This episode is also sponsored by Hover. Building your brand online has never been more important. You've heard us harp on this quite a bit and we need to show the online community who you are and what you're passionate about, especially if you're floating between jobs. If you think you might be floating between jobs, if you're starting your own shop, your online identity begins with your domain name, and Jason, you're kind of a domain addict from what I understand.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:33:45] I've been a domainer for you know, well over 20 years now. At one point I had thousands of them, so I've worked with every registrar in the world, which is why Hover is such a great thing in the universe right now because it is hands down the best registrar I've ever worked with period.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:02] Like what makes them different?
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Jason DeFillippo: [00:35:11] Thanks for listening and supporting the show. Your support of our advertisers is what keeps us on the air. So to learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard, visit Jordan harbinger.com/deals, and don't forget the worksheet for today's episode. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast, and now, for the conclusion of our interview with Molly Bloom.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:32] And you know what I like that you did. Yes you gave -- you became concierge to the guys sending frigging purses to the hotel rooms so that they could give it to their wife for missing the birthday dinner or whatever, but you also built real trust. There was a point in which you got, I don't know how it happened, you got your hands on like a sex tape from somebody or something like that, and you ended up giving it to the guy as kind of a gift. And he's like, “Ah, how much do you want for this?” And you're just like, “No, I'm not blackmailing you. I'm giving you the copy. Keep your dick in your pants,” or whatever it was.
Molly Bloom: [00:36:04] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:05] And so that guy you built trust with this guy instead of saying a 100 grand, he probably brought you millions of dollars in--
Molly Bloom: [00:36:13] For sure.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:14] Game because he was like, “Oh my gosh, you didn't take advantage of me while you totally could have, you're a trustworthy person.”
Molly Bloom: [00:36:21] In my experience, when I leave money on the table to play a smart long game or to have integrity, I've never regretted it ever.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:36:31] I like that. That's how I choose to play things as well. I'm always looking at long term because it's so easy to get tempted by something short term. And I always tell people if they lose something, like if you find out that you get an email in your inbox, my friend borrowed $1,000 and now she's ghosting me, I'm like, “You're welcome. You learned a cheap lesson.” Imagine if you'd lent her something more than that, that you couldn't replace.
Molly Bloom: [00:36:54] Yeah. I think like that's another great lesson is to actually, and this is something that has been really useful in putting my life back together, is to look at all of it and own it. I can't be angry at anybody, that I'm a convicted felon, and that all this craziness that happened, it was all my fault. You know what I mean? It's all my fault. But there's liberation in that and when you actually take a really rigorous, honest look at yourself and you own all your stuff, then you get to avoid it in the future. You get to make new mistakes, new fun mistakes, but you get to start not walking into the same ones.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:36] I think that the way that you learned to deal with not only powerful men, but with women actually was quite telling. I can't remember if I read this in the book or if it's just something I noticed, but you able to sort of disarm other women by taking the lead and showcasing humility or vulnerability in a very strategic way. Can you speak to that?
Molly Bloom: [00:37:56] Well, I mean I've always like very much been a girl's girl. I think when I was young I saw how like young girls treated each other and how they're always like teaming up on each other and I just didn't really like it. So the times that I would feel jealous because I think everybody feels jealous. I really tried to work on those feelings and be on the same team as opposed to like act on those feelings of jealousy and comparison and whatever. And I really am a girl's girl and I really do care about women and I really like wanting to -- it's part of my life's work right now and what I care about is empowering women and I never like was competing with them. I was just more about like trying to become friends, and I don't even know if it's so much of a strategy as it is just kind of authentically who I am. And also I was kind of like, “Who are we competing for?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:49] Right, exactly.
Molly Bloom: [00:38:51] You could keep these guys like.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:54] Yeah.
Molly Bloom: [00:38:55] And no, some of them were great, but I'm just saying like there's really no reason to not be friends.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:00] Right. No, I like that. I like that. And I think a lot of people, especially in Hollywood circles, would not start off with let's be cooperative about this and collaborate. They'd be like, “Oh, she's here. This is a scarcity thing. I got to get her out of here and make her look bad so that I'm the center of attention.” I mean, that's very typically very Hollywood. Most people won't make the first move to disarm that. So I thought that was very strategic.
Molly Bloom: [00:39:23] But I'm also so, so happy. Sorry to interrupt, but I'm so happy not to be the center of attention.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:28] Yeah. Especially in this situation.
Molly Bloom: [00:39:30] Right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:31] Yeah. At this point, so you're 27, you're running $2 million tables at the most exclusive hotels in Los Angeles. Did you ever feel like, “Okay, any minute now they're going to find out I don't belong here, and the whole thing's going to fall apart.”
Molly Bloom: [00:39:44] Oh my God. Every second. First game to the last game.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:47] How did you keep it together? I mean, I assume the guys were trying to throw you off your game a lot too, especially your old boss while he was around.
Molly Bloom: [00:39:55] I don't know, it's probably a combination of luck and just die hard ambition. I am somebody like, I'm not very social. I don't like just to gratuitously socialize. I like to win. That's why that -- that's just in me. Like the other day we were at this couples dinner and they're like, “Okay, we're going to play a game to get to know each other.” And my heart starts pounding. I'm like got very serious and ruined the game kind of, because I won in like two moves, but I just like -- I like to win. I'm ambitious, it's who I am. And so I spent almost all my time thinking about how to be successful at this. And so I probably got pretty lucky a lot of times. And then I just also really worked hard and really just tried to spend most of my time trying to figure it out.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:45] I think this is admirable, especially because it wasn't just early success that you had. I mean you did have that, but later on this big fish, Arthur, at least that's his name in the book, screws you out of your game. Basically decides we're having this at my house, takes a lot of the clientele. This is near and dear to my heart because earlier this very year, I also got screwed out of my 11 year old business and a lot of, I mean it's still own it, but I got kind of locked out of everything and it's involved in like litigation back and forth, and it was with people I'd worked with for 11 years. So sounds very familiar.
Molly Bloom: [00:41:20] It’s a heart breaker.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:41:21] It is. And it was, but I will tell you -- well I'll tell you in a minute what's going on. But when you had this happen, what's going through your head? Because for me, I kind of felt like, Am I still the same person that I was because I lost this.” So did you have this identity shift?
Molly Bloom: [00:41:38] I was terrified. I thought that it meant I would go back to being an absolute no one, my entire identity was tied up in this. It was like I put everything I had into this thing, and it felt like someone had taken me, and you're like so scared that without this you have to go back to being someone's personal assistant, Aaron girl, cocktail, waitress, whatever. And then also I felt like somebody like lit me on fire. I was so mad at the injustice of it. So it was the combination of terror at going back to being a quote unquote no one. And then it was also anger, which in my life I've been able to convert to fuel very effectively.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:28] I think we had a very similar experience. I also went through--
Molly Bloom: [00:42:30] You do?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:31] I want to say like, I kind of almost went through the seven stages of grief or something like that. I don't know if I went through all seven.
Molly Bloom: [00:42:37] No, for sure.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:38] But then you're like, people go, “Oh, you're going to be angry. It's going to dominate your life.” And I was like, “Okay, warning taken.” But I basically went, what I'm going to do is pack up, go to a different type of thing that's similar enough pack up -- take my ball, goes somewhere else and dominate and crush and make it--
Molly Bloom: [00:42:57] And dominate and crush.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:42:57] And make it so obvious that this is a huge mistake that at some point everyone goes, “What the hell were they thinking getting rid of him,” and that's exactly what happened. We are now dominating the scene. Most of the audiences migrated to this new show. We're bigger than that old show ever was. The business that we're doing is much more fun and interesting. The whole team ended up coming with me, so it's like you did the same thing.
Molly Bloom: [00:43:21] That is awesome!
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:22] You packed up, you headed to New York City, you proceed to make three times what you were making in LA without all the BS. So when I read that I was like, sounds familiar.
Molly Bloom: [00:43:31] Yeah, no. What you're describing is pretty much exactly how I felt, and I'm so happy that you're triumphing, that you've been triumphant like that. That lights me up. That makes me happy because it sucks, man.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:43:43] It does. But I will say it's probably the best thing that's ever happened in my business.
Molly Bloom: [00:43:47] Yeah, yeah, yep. And that's the other part, and that's like as you get older and more perspective, you start to see these earth shattering events as, okay, well maybe I can just be a little bit curious about this and see where it leads.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:03] Yeah, yeah. Because I think, and you can probably relate to this just as well, we get so tied up in what we had going that we think we could never start over. We can never do it again.
Molly Bloom: [00:44:13] Exactly, exactly.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:14] And then when you finally either have to, or yeah, you're going to be doing like retail at Gucci or whatever the hell the other options.
Molly Bloom: [00:44:20] Right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:20] Right? No offense to those people, but it's not exactly what we were doing.
Molly Bloom: [00:44:22] No, for sure.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:23] Then you start to think, “Well wait a minute. Not only can I do this, but now that now it's mine.” Because before you were running Riordan's game mutated into Molly's game. Now though, once you're completely free of all those constraints, you don't have power players being like, “I'm going to take your game.” It's like, “No, this is my game. You're in my house.” I'm not a guest who's doing a good job. I'm not your top employee. You're running, I'm running shit now basically.
Molly Bloom: [00:44:49] I'm the MF bank.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:44:50] Yeah. Yes, exactly, exactly. Yeah, The benefit of your industry, as you mentioned, you had access into any industry because every niche has gamblers and its sports, art, finance.
Molly Bloom: [00:45:02] That’s right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:45:03] How did you end up leveraging that network to get benefits in other ways? Like you see, you mentioned investing in art, invite artists, but there are art dealers. There's probably a lot more where that came from.
Molly Bloom: [00:45:14] Yeah, a lot of it is information. So an education, that's what a lot of investing is in tech stocks and art deals. And the truth is, is that I would invite people with all these well-intended because I was always looking for -- I was dishonestly looking for a way out. Meaning I was saying like, “Okay, I'm going to pivot,” and this is how I'm going to pivot. I’m going to pivot into the art world, or I'm going to pivot into real estate or I'm going to pivot into tech. And so I would set up these opportunities for myself and then I couldn't, I couldn't leave because I had just -- I was just in this thing and this life that it created for me. So I didn't fully execute on the Trojan horse bit. It was a well-intended ploy to satisfy that the smart part of my brain that was like, “We need to do something else.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:11] Yeah. So you kind of lied to yourself and you're like, “I'm going to eventually -- I'm just doing this so I can get a good connection to the art world and I'm going to become an art dealer.” And that's like, “Just kidding. I made $300,000 last week. I'm not doing that crap.”
Molly Bloom: [00:46:23] Right. And like I got some like privately commissioned pieces by some artists and I've got some good intel and I made some good deals. But like I never fully acted on the intention.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:36] That makes sense. Yeah, because you were kind of addicted to this right at this point?
Molly Bloom: [00:46:40] I was addicted to it. Absolutely.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:42] I know you, you had other things that you were starting to slide into because there was a disconnect between who you really were and this business that you were running and you started to sort of self-medicate with that during then, right?
Molly Bloom: [00:46:53] Yeah, yeah. I mean and also it was just so incredibly unsustainable and I had no partners and when I'm guaranteeing the money, I can't just hand it off to somebody because if they make one accounting error that's $250,000 that I've got to write the check for, so I just never slept. And I got really bad into drugs and alcohol, and part of it was in the beginning probably to try to address the unsustainability and stay up and everything. But then it became this thing where it's like I was so empty and my life was so empty and I did it to numb myself after a while too.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:37] It's kind of understandable. I know that you're sober now, so that's, I mean we can easily talk about this kind of thing in a way that is probably a little less traumatizing. But before we get to the less traumatizing, let's keep going with traumatizing because you're involved in this crazy, this craziness, and you moved out to New York. And then suddenly it's like, and when I read this, I was so surprised because your driver, who you were kind of like homeboys with, I mean this is the guy who drives you home at 5 o'clock in the morning or you trust this guy. He's like, “My friends want to meet you or something.” How did the mob get involved? What's going on here?
Molly Bloom: [00:48:12] Yeah. So apparently my driver knew them, and said, but it was also shady because he said to me, “I drive these guys from New Jersey. Their hedge fund guys, they want to play on your game. And so I said, “Okay, great. Have a meet me at the Four Seasons bar on 57th. And they walked in and it was just, I mean they stuck out like a sore thumb, everyone after the bell, like at the Four Seasons uptown is like legitimate businessman, whatever these guys rolled in, it looked like they'd just came off the set of Goodfellas. One of them had a bullet around their neck. It was -- I'm sitting down with them and it was kind of funny actually because to break the silence, awkward silence. I was like, “Well, can I get you guys something to drink?” And they thought about it. They looked around the room and then both of them ordered appletinis and I'm like, “Whoa, it's not like the movies, huh?” But then they got to their business real quick and they kind of gave me this spiel about how it's pretty incredible what I've been able to build and impressive, but this is their turf and they've been empowered to come offer me a partnership that's kind of not really an offer but more of a demand and that it could be for tutus for me because they could collect for me. And basically they were saying like, “You need to give us a piece of your operation and we're getting involved.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:39] Right. Extortion. And then it's like, “No thanks. I'm good.” People are, people are paying for things already.
Molly Bloom: [00:49:46] Yeah, yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:47] So you were, well you kind of like naive, you're like, “No, I'm good. Appletini. I'm fine.”
Molly Bloom: [00:49:51] Yeah. Well, of course, up until like, I guess I had gotten a little too confident in my ability to navigate hard situations and I wasn't fully aware of who I was dealing with. So I was just trying to -- I was trying to use logic. I was like, “look, I really appreciate the offer, and I also appreciate that this is the business you do and I'll stay away from your areas of operation for sure. But if I partner with you, I'm going to lose every client I have and we're going to be nowhere.” So I was like trying to reason rationalize with them. The whole thing was super weird and this happened to be a lot like they were very confused that I was me and I was very confused that they were them. So it was this like very disjointed conversation where I'm sure they're used to going through this script a million times, but it's usually with a guy, it's not what like this 5’3 girl, like 30 year old girl. And then I was trying to talk to them, but I didn't know really like their culture. So it was just very, it was an awkward meeting.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:51] Yeah, I can imagine. They were probably not surprised because I'm sure they knew who they were going to talk to, but they probably thought you'd be a little bit more, I mean I don't know. Who knows what was going through those guys' head at that time.
Molly Bloom: [00:51:02] I do think that they thought I'd be like a little bit more street smart probably. Maybe a little taller, older, I don't know. They were just like, we just weren't expecting each other and we didn't really know how to communicate.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:15] Yeah. All right. Well I can imagine. So how did this all start to end? Because I know that once you said “No,” they weren't like “Aw boss, she said, no. Let's find another victim.”
I mean how did this start to have wind down?
Molly Bloom: [00:51:25] No. That's not what happened. I just kept evading their calls and then around Christmas time, holiday time, it was 2010. I was waiting for a delivery from my door man. And so when there was a knock at the door, I didn't even really think about it because I also had a very safe full service building in Manhattan, and the door opened and this guy that I'd never seen before pushed his way in and stuck a gun in my mouth for what seemed like an eternity and then he'd beat the hell out of me, and he robbed me and he kind of gave me this speech about how the partnership wasn’t optional. And if I told anyone about this or if I didn't comply, then they would take a trip to Colorado to see my family.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:09] Oh, that's so scary.
Molly Bloom: [00:52:11] Yeah, it was. It was really scary.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:13] So what did you do then?
Molly Bloom: [00:52:14] So I stayed in my house for three weeks and let my face heal. I didn't even go outside -- I mean I just ordered food and because if anyone saw me, it was really clear what had happened. And I was scared that -- at this point I'm not only afraid for my life, I'm now realizing that I've put people that I really love in danger and then after about three weeks, I got the New York Times and the big headline on the cover, this was I think mid-January. It said 125 people arrested in the biggest mob related take down in New York City history. And they went away, but obviously this whole thing was coming off the rail.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:52:57] Right, so the guys that were threatening you went away because they went to prison. But it doesn't mean that everyone's gone and it doesn't mean that the next time somebody catches when they're not going to come after you hard.
Molly Bloom: [00:53:07] Yeah, exactly. And then also I had recruited these guys, these whales, they were huge players just a game runner stream until they weren't, because I had private investigators, I had bank employees, there are so many people on my payroll to do background checks on people. And these guys, their story checked out, but it turns out that they were actually running this a 100 million dollar auto insurance fraud scheme and the Feds had been onto them for some time and they were listening to their phone and then they got onto me because we've got the guy that ran the Ponzi scheme on the West Coast, sued everyone in the game, and we've got the Italian mob, the Russian mob now. Oh, and those guys that were running the insurance fraud scheme had deep ties to the Russian mob. And so like all these things are happening around me and it's all connected by me. And so then the Feds got involved and the first thing they did was they seized -- they took all my money. I was worth millions, then I had zero, and I had to move back home with my mom and kind of figure out how to rebuild a life. And we spoke to the Feds, they said, “We've decided that the way she made her money was illegal. If she wants to come in and talk to us, we can talk about giving the money back. But if she doesn't, then this is what it is. It's on the civil side of the prosecutor's office and property doesn't have the presumption of innocence and basically I was just like game over.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:38] Yeah.
Molly Bloom: [00:54:39] And we didn't hear from them. And my attorney at the time said, I guess they decided not to pursue it. So for two years I started putting my life back together. I got sober. I got honest. I looked at myself. I started writing this book, and then two years almost to the date I moved back to LA, I had gotten a pretty decent job. Took me two years to get a job. I was unhireable but I got a job and the book was finished, and 10 days later I get a call in the middle of the night. This is agent so-and-so from the FBI. You need to come out with your hands up. I walk into my hallway when my eyes adjusted to the high beam flashlights. I saw 17 FBI agents, semiautomatic weapons pointed at me. They put me in jail. I had a day and a half to get to New York on the press release that said, I was looking at 90 years on the press release that said it was a Russian mob indictment. I walked into this courtroom, it's all like Russian mobsters and their girlfriends, I don't know 80 percent of them. I have no idea like this nightmare of what my life looks.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:41] The fact you new 20 percent though is probably a little bit disturbing of a statistic as well.
Molly Bloom: [00:55:46] Well, the 20 -- right, but the 20 percent was like the rich art dealer guy who just, it wasn't people like, it was the people that crossover people.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:55:56] It wasn't Slava the knuckle breaker, right?
Molly Bloom: [00:56:00] Not, it wasn't the Vore.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:56:02] Yeah, yeah. Oh my gosh. Wow!
Molly Bloom: [00:56:05] But like it was just like overnight, my life became this unimaginable, illogical nightmare. Like if they would've said, “Hey, you and all your friends that ran poker games. But like all of a sudden I'm in a Russian mob indictment, that's connected to this guy in Moscow, who's known as the Vore, which is the most violent criminal in Russia. You know what I mean? And there all these Russians are looking at me and I'm just like, “I don't know who to be more afraid of, the government or this courtroom. Anyway, so -- and then it turns out that the government, what they wanted from me is they wanted me to become a confidential informant. They figured that since I'd run these games for six, eight years that I knew secrets about the celebrities and the Wall Street guys and the politicians and they were right. I did, I did know things that could have potentially led to some information for them on financial crimes or whatever. And they said that they would give me my all my money back and they said that they would dropped the charges and I had to think about that for a minute. And it just like, even though you think about it, because it's a big decision to make, it was so clear -- it was so clear to me that I had made these choices. I wasn't like, I didn't grow up poor. I didn't grow up like at a disadvantage. I grew up with all the opportunities in the whole world and what I chose to do with it, it was run these high stakes poker games and ultimately break the law and I need to stand for those choices. Getting your money back and getting freedom doesn't mean anything if you hate yourself and you've decided that you've abandoned the things that you care about or like acted in a way that for the rest of your life lacks integrity and lacks courage. Like I just knew I couldn't do that and be okay with myself.
[00:57:56] So I made that choice. I walked into Federal Court not knowing what the decision would be and really trying to mentally prepare myself on doing a little time and being okay with that. But how do you really prepare yourself for that?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:14] Yeah, exactly.
Molly Bloom: [00:58:15] But I got super lucky. I've got a young judge who was appointed by Obama and he was definitely super disappointed in what I had chosen to do with my life. But he said, I don't see how justice is served by sending you to jail. So at 33 years olds, I didn't have to go to jail, but I'll tell you what, I had this moment where I was like, I'm 33 years old, I'm a convicted felon, I'm millions of dollars in debt. My reputation is destroyed. I need a massive rebranding campaign and I need like Harper Collins budget and Sony Studios budget for this massive marketing campaign and the truth is, is I just said -- I tried to get logical and I said, any business that's in trouble. All right, are there any monetizable assets? What are the assets left? And I really believed that it was a unique story and that if it was told in the right way, could create some opportunities for me. And so I was like, “Mom and Dad, I have the perfect solution. I'm going to get Harper Collins to publish this book and I'm going to get Aaron Sorkin to wrote into a movie.” And they're like, “When are you going to grow up?”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:25] Yeah, exactly. Like why don't you get a job at Saks Fifth Avenue? And stop talking.
Molly Bloom: [00:59:28] Yes, yeah. They're like, “Just get a job.” Like just, you know, but I was in a good place even though it doesn't seem like I was in a good place to go for it because I had lost everything.
I had nothing more to lose. I had spent my life so terrified of failure and then I failed so spectacularly and in front of a large audience. And so I was just like, “No, I believe in this, and I don't care how many people say no, I'm just going to keep -- I'm just going to not quit.” And I kept asking everyone in Hollywood if I could get a meeting with Sorkin. And most people were like, “Yeah, I don't think he wants to write the movie about the poker princess.” Or they would say, “Let me just give you some advice here. Do you know how many powerful people are trying to kill this project? It will never get major, you're wasting your time. But I really believed in it, so I just kept at it. And finally I've got a meeting with Sorkin and I pitched to him and then he kind of sat back in his chair and looked at me with this amused expression on his face. And he's like, “I've never met someone so down on their luck and so full of themselves,” and it's not full of yourself. It's just like, “Here's my shot.” Right?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:33] Well he was probably also like, “So wait, we're going to make an ass out of who?” “Yes. Sign me up.” And maybe he was at one of your games and lost a hand and Toby gloated in his face. And he was like, “Yes, I would love to make this movie.”
Molly Bloom: [01:00:51] No. His biggest fear, he was like, “I will not dish on the celebrities.” And I'm like, “That's cool with me.”
Jordan Harbinger: [01:00:55] Yeah. So that's why you have these amalgamated characters in the movie that are like, I'm a blend of a bunch of people.
Molly Bloom: [01:01:02] Yeah, I’m [indiscernible] [01:01:02]
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:03] Yeah, gotcha. Well, looking back at all of this, was there a part of you that ran the men's games and you only mentioned men in the book and you use the words men's games specifically. So I kind of assumed these are all guys. Was there a part of you that craved power over powerful men? Maybe because of the way you are seeking your dad's approval growing up?
Molly Bloom: [01:01:23] I think that that was definitely a part of it and that was a part of it. And that was a part of it in my 20s, and that was a draw to it. But then the practical application of it, after you start becoming the bank and constantly having millions of dollars out on the street and constantly having to babysit egos and everything, you're like, this doesn't feel very powerful. This is a pain in the ass.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:53] Yeah, yeah. You're babysitting at that point.
Molly Bloom: [01:01:56] Yeah. But what I did like and what I did realize, because when I grew up, we didn't have these conversations necessarily about being an entrepreneur in high school or whatever. It was more just like you're good at math and science, you go this route. You're good at reading and writing, you go this route. And what I realized in those rooms is that I was an entrepreneur and that was my thing. And it really lit me up, and so it evolves over time and then ultimately what happened was like you said, “Smart people can justify a lot of stuff in their head.” I couldn't hide from anymore that I was using my entrepreneurial skills, my understanding of human psychology, my creativity to exploit vice for my own gain, and that's something that started to really not sit with me well.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:44] Molly, thank you so much. This has been really an awesome episode. You're a great storyteller. Of course, you're well-practiced with this. And I love the insight into the psychology of how this all worked and then of course later didn't work. But at least how you ran this I think is fascinating because we're all about the practicals here, and it's great that you can take kind of a no pun intended sober, look at this past and go, here's what I did right and here's what I did wrong.
Molly Bloom: [01:03:08] Yeah.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:09] Yeah. So thank you very much for your time and for coming on the show today.
Molly Bloom: [01:03:11] Yeah, for sure. Thank you.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:15] Great big thank you to Molly Bloom. The book title is Molly's Game. I told you this was a crazy story. I thought that she did a great job. Super smart obviously, really candid, and not trying to front. That's what I appreciate about Molly Bloom, especially just she could easily sugarcoat this whole thing. Who knows maybe this is the -- maybe this is the tone down version. I'm sure it is. I can only imagine some of the things that she's seen during those games. And if you want to know how I managed to book all these great people and manage hundreds slash thousands of relationships, I use systems and I use tiny habits and I want to teach you how to do this for free. jordanharbinger.com/course. A lot of people are like, “Yeah, I'm going to do this soon.” Or “Yeah, I'll do this eventually.” Or “I'm already a great networker.” I've never met anybody that has all of these skills in one place. It took me years to put this stuff together. I don’t know, I feel like people at the highest levels of business do more of these, but I've never met anyone that does all of them. So if you're thinking that you don't need this because you're a great networker, I invite you to learn along with a bunch of other really great networkers some of these same tactics. jordanharbinger.com/course. It's just a few minutes per day. No excuses. Get it done. jordanharbinger.com/course
[01:04:28] And speaking of building relationships, tell me your number one takeaway here from Molly Bloom. I'm @jordanharbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. This show is produced in association with PodcastOne and this episode was co-produced by Jason “Full House” DeFillippo and Jen Harbinger. Show notes are by Robert Fogarty. Worksheets by Caleb Bacon, and I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful. Hopefully that's in every episode, so please share the show with those you love and even those you don't. Lots more in the pipeline. Very excited to bring it to you. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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