Saturday, June 14, 2014

MOLLY'S GAME by Molly Bloom

In MOLLY'S GAME, a memoir by Molly Bloom, the pseudonym author (not the character in Ulysses) gives an inside look at the hidden world of high stakes poker among the ultra rich, some of whom she describes as amoral libertines with "decorative" girlfriends. Some of their parties ran up $100,000 bar tabs, and the richer they were the more impatient and rude. Molly was hired initially in a service position at the upscale restaurant "Boulevard" operated by "Riordan Green" (again, names are changed in this true story to protect certain identities.) She was often denigrated and insulted, and other times propositioned, but somehow managed to keep her focus on winning her own new game within the dicey game. Sex went on in back rooms as often as body shots do in less expensive clubs…penthouses where sex tape scandals are the cost of doing business. Bloom even mentions seeing Paris Hilton slug an ex's new girlfriend, and the subsequent appearance of the Hilton tape's producer. But mostly this is the first person story of how a girl from Loveland Colorado got involved in staging games for wealthy men, luring them by working her growing contact list, while listening to gossip she wasn't supposed to repeat. The subtitle is a mouthful: "From Hollywood's Elite, to Wall Street's Billionaire Boys Club, My High Stakes Adventure in the World of Underground Poker." She insists that she walked the tightrope of legality, taking only "tips" for her services by those wanting to be included in future games. The Heidi Fleiss of gambling, Bloom has things to say about the shallow vanity of playboys and their bimbos, and about stars like Ben Affleck, who was smart with his bets (unlike, say, Michael Jordan.) Tobey McGuire is described as "a poor loser," willing to disparage those below his station, having fun at their expense. Then, after an armed robbery in her own home, she was called to appear in court on the case involving a bookmaking operation run out of a Trump tower apartment where she'd "spent many nights." The Feds had been watching her due to an association with the crimes of Russian mobsters she didn't even know. She was convicted, and, now broke, awaits sentencing...and yet---most surprisingly of all---she doesn't regret taking the chances she did, like a true gambler herself. Narrated by the always engaging Cassandra Campbell, the audiobook version captures the tone you'd imagine the author taking, in this sad commentary and confessional on gambling culture and the insanity of our obsession with money, power, and fame. For an even more gritty look at the rackets, try BLACK MASS: The Whitey Bulger Story.

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