Walker Webcast: Delving into Life’s Playbook with Molly Bloom
Anyone who reads the news or is a fan of pop culture knows about Molly Bloom. A former Olympic skier, Bloom gained notoriety through running poker games in Los Angeles and New York, then being arrested and charged with operating a laundering and illegal sports gambling operation. These days, Bloom is familiar as an author and in-demand speaker, who shares lessons learned from her life.
During the Oct. 5, 2022 Walker Webcast, Bloom and Walker & Dunlop Chairman and CEO Willy Walker did discuss “Molly’s games,” her book and the Aaron Sorkin movie based on the world of underground poker and Bloom’s FBI arrest. But the discussion also focused on Bloom’s life and philosophy. So, not so much “Molly’s game” as much as “Molly’s playbook.”
Some of the recommendations, based on Bloom’s experiences and outlook, include the following.
Show up and be of service
In her early days of running games, Bloom said she didn’t see how the players needed what she could provide. But as time went on, she learned that human beings are human beings. And the key is to help make their lives easier. “It’s not walking into a room and thinking ‘okay, what can I gain right now,” she said. “But it’s ‘how can I upgrade this experience . . . how can I actually get invested in this person as a human being . . .’” Basically, “find a way to make people taken care of . . . and be of service,” she said. “There’s tremendous value there.
“Listening seems to be an art that’s disappearing in conversation,” Bloom said. “So often, people seem to listen, but they’re computing what they’re going to say next, or how they’re going to sound smart. It’s not authentic, interested listening.” Careful listening demonstrates to others that they’re special and worthwhile, which can be helpful with careers and in life.
When Bloom moved from Los Angeles to New York with the intent of launching poker games in the Big Apple, she was on her own. “It was this daunting environment,” she said. I didn’t really know anyone; it was mostly hedge fund guys . . . but trying to break into their club seemed impossible.” She was also up against game runners that had been around for years. So she interviewed poker players in New York City, pinpointed problem areas and produced solutions. One of which was to create safe games, where players could participate and conduct business deals.
Bloom said she made plenty of mistakes and fully accepted the consequences for her actions. A couple of weeks after the FBI arrested her, the prosecution offered her a deal. If she was willing to wear a wire and obtain information about petting from the politicians, billionaires and celebrities who’d shown up at her tables, they would give her deferred prosecution and all her money back. She refused. “It didn’t feel right,” she explained. The position I was in was 100% my fault. It wasn’t like I didn’t understand how things work. So I had to stand for the consequences of my own actions.”
Manage your mind. “For me, this was the biggest thing,” Bloom said. Following her arrest and sentencing (which didn’t involve jail), she had to shift her narrative to get out of a negative mindset. She relies on meditation a great deal. Doing so helps observe negativity and doubt. “You can then exert that agency to choose a different way to pivot, to get back into the game,” she said.
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