At last month’s SBC Summit Barcelona, keynote speaker and entrepreneur Molly Bloom took time to speak with SBC Americas editor Jessica Welman about the current state of the poker industry.
Even though Bloom has been completely removed from poker for several years, she still had a unique perspective to add as someone who ran one of the most successful private poker games in history. As the manager of a private game, she was able to do things casinos and online poker rooms can’t do, like curate her lineups. Nonetheless, she thinks there are things the regulated industry can learn from her experiences.
Regulated poker needs to protect the players, especially the amateurs
“I focused so much on the experience, building out the fantasy, learning how to make people feel safe, seen, heard, remembered, and special,” she explained. With one table running, even that could get overwhelming though. Bloom admitted when she was just worried about filling out the table, the quality of the game and the experience dropped.
With no pros in her game, Bloom was able to protect amateurs, something that the industry, particularly the online industry, is currently struggling with. She agreed that player sustainability is a major issue in the community, and even had a suggestion for a new approach.
“Ideally, in my game, you have a table with people with similar skill levels and similar play styles. So they have these big huge results that are exciting, but at the end of the year, it’s evenly spread out. So it’s the joy of poker, the joy of winning and losing, but nobody’s going broke. So if there was a way to sort of designate, like in sports for instance, here’s the pros, here’s the amateurs. Here’s the sort of, feeder team. That would be where I would start.”
Cheating is another major topic when it comes to player protection.
“Cheating is a big deal, and it’s a really big deal online,” she noted. “And I did have people that attempted to cheat. You know, I had a custom chip set and they found out which company it was and they brought in chips. I bought a Shuffle Master, which are $17,000 but so worth it.”
Again though, Bloom had the luxury of just refusing to let rumored cheaters in the game, which is something that is trickier when dealing with casinos and big poker tournaments. Nonetheless, vigilance in protecting the game is important.
Women in poker need more representation to bring new women in
Another area where Bloom had ideas is how to get more women interested in poker. When asked whether poker is a game women are interested in, she cited the lack of representation as the problem. In fact, there are probably elements of the game that women, in general, take to better than men.
“The more that we see women playing the game, the more interested women will be in the game,” Bloom asserted. “I think it’s an incredible game for women to play. I think that when you see a woman who’s great at poker, She’s incredible. She has the instinct and the psychology down.”
Bloom wants athlete protections in tandem with sports betting
Even though she wasn’t a player in the game, being a woman in poker with a successful film about her story certainly helped expose the game to more women. Now though, Bloom is focused on new projects, including her podcast Torched, which explores stories of amateur athletes. A competitive skiier in her youth, Bloom can relate to her guests and their experiences.
As an athlete, Bloom has an opinion on the growth of sports betting that is rooted in both passion and pragmatism. She would love people to just love sports for the love of the game, but knows that is not the reality we live in, especially in the US right now.
“We just have to be rigorous about insulating sports from fraud, from people getting involved in fixing. But it’s here to stay. It’s never going away. And, you know, to each their own. So I have lots of opinions about it, but I’m extremely realistic.”
Check out all of Bloom’s candid takes on poker and sports betting.