The closest I’ll ever get to real gambling is reading the beginning of Daniel Deronda. Other people in my family have an intrepid streak, though. For a while there my father was hooked on playing the stock market. Once, he told me, in quick succession, he made $50,000 and then lost 30K of it, so he went home and told my mom, “Hey, we made $20,000!” Another family member who shall remain nameless got hooked on internet poker back in the day and had to wean himself off in part by putting his salary in the care of someone else.
For some people, clearly, the excitement is worth the risk. This intense Vanity Fair [<- FIXED] piece about a cocktail waitress making bank by running a private poker party for the beautiful folks of Hollywood, Inside the Viper Room — an excerpt from the upcoming memoir of Molly Bloom (no relation) — captures some of the reasons why. It also contains some discomfiting details about Tobey Maguire, who brings his own vegan snack food to the game.
It was all incredibly surreal. I was standing in the corner of the Viper Room counting ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS IN CASH! I was in the company of movie stars, important directors, and powerful business tycoons. I felt like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole. As the players filed out, they thanked me, some kissed my cheek, but they all pressed bills into my hand. I smiled warmly and thanked them in return, trying not to let my hands shake. When they were all gone, I sat down in a daze, and with trembling hands I counted $3,000.