Molly Bloom Recalls the Ups and Downs of Being Hollywood's Poker Princess

Molly Bloom Recalls the Ups and Downs of Being Hollywood's Poker Princess
Molly Bloom
Yolanda Perez Photography

06/24/2014 12:15PM

Ben Affleck, well known for being a big poker player, knew when to fold 'em when he played in poker princess Molly Bloom's high-stakes, A-list games.

"He didn't stay all night like a lot of the guys," she tells PEOPLE. "He always had a specific time when he would stand up at the table. He would leave at a reasonable hour. He never lost a great deal. He usually won."

In her new memoir, Molly's Game (ItBooks/HarperCollins), Bloom, 36, gives an inside look at what went on behind very private doors when billionaires, financiers, pro athletes and Hollywood elite – including Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon and Tobey Maguire – turned up at the underground poker games she organized, which sometimes had $2 million in play.

The Colorado native tells of how she arrived in Los Angeles at 26, quickly rising from cocktail waitress to gatekeeper of one of the most exclusive poker games in the world – earning $4 million in one year alone.



It was quite a ride, she says, and not all pleasant. Maguire, who was a regular at her table, "was the worst tipper, the best player and the absolute worst loser," she writes.

She says she'll never forget how humiliated she felt when Maguire demanded that she "bark like a seal who wants a fish" for a $1,000 chip.

Bloom writes that she tried to laugh it off, but the actor continued, saying, " 'I'm not kidding. What's wrong? You're too rich now? You won't bark for a thousand dollars? Wowwww ... you must be really rich. ... C'mon,' he said, holding the chip above my head. 'BARK.' 'No,' I said quietly. 'No?' he asked. 'Tobey,' I said, 'I'm not going to bark like a seal. Keep your chip.' "

Looking back, Bloom says, "There is a duality to Tobey. On the one hand, in the beginning I think that he was responsible for a lot of my success because I studied him and watched how he worked, which was very tactical. I tried to emulate that because it was really effective.

Molly Bloom Recalls the Ups and Downs of Being Hollywood's Poker Princess| Hollywood, Ben Affleck, Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Tobey Maguire

"When he started turning on me because my role had gotten bigger than he anticipated, it was really frustrating. It wasn't like I was just hosting this game and bringing drinks to people. I was doing a lot in the background to make it sustainable and come up with new players and new ideas. So I didn't appreciate the fact that he hassled me about the money I was making and publicly humiliated me."

Leo and Matt

The former Spider-Man star sometimes brought his longtime pal DiCaprio to play. "Leo wasn't there that often," Bloom says. "Most of the people who played had a serious obsession with the game. These were people who were able to play cards for this many hours a week this regularly. After a game, they would spend hours on the phone talking about hands, talking about what happened during a game. It was very compulsive.

"Leo didn't have that in him. The reason Tobey brought him was because the celebrity factor is so alluring in L.A. that billionaires and other people from out of town and fish or whales – meaning people with lots of money – would be attracted to the game."

Affleck brought Damon only once. "He was one of the nicest, most humble, down-to-earth guys I have ever met," Bloom says of Damon. "He was just genuine. There were no airs about him."

Bloom's poker days came to an end last year, when she was arrested in New York by the FBI and charged with profiting from hosting illegal poker games. She pled guilty in December. In May, she was sentenced to a year of probation and agreed to forfeit $125,000. "I have to take responsibility for the fact that I crossed the line and I broke the law," she says.

Now that she is done with the poker world, Bloom would like to do something "entrepreneurial" that helps young women, she says.

The book hits store shelves Tuesday.

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