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Main article: Arnold Rothstein

Arnold Rothstein is a major character in the first season. This article details their actions in each episode of the season.

Boardwalk Empire (pilot)[]

Main article: Boardwalk Empire

Arnold Rothstein comes to Atlantic City, at the behest of Chicago mob boss Johnny Torrio, to establish a business relationship with Enoch "Nucky" Thompson. Rothstein brings his associate and protege Lucky Luciano with him to Atlantic City. They initially meet with Torrio and his boss Big Jim Colosimo at the Brighton Hotel, observed by Prohibition Agent Nelson Van Alden.

The next night they have dinner with Torrio, Colosimo and Nucky at the Traymore Hotel. Nucky takes a dislike to Luciano during the dinner and Rothstein defends Luciano. In their first business interaction, Nucky agrees to sell Rothstein his newly imported shipment of 100 cases of Canadian Club Whiskey for 60,000 dollars, though Rothstein's own men will be required to do the pickup. The two shake hands on the deal. Nucky gives Rothstein a business card for an illegal casino fronting as a men's association.

The following day, Nucky receives a phone call from the casino's manager Lolly Steinman, informing him that Rothstein has won over 90,000 dollars and shows no signs of stopping. Steinman believes Rothstein has been cheating. Nucky comes to the casino and approaches Rothstein's table. Rothstein asks why he has been cut off and Nucky responds that it is a "small house" and that they "can't handle [Rothstein's] kind of action." When Rothstein tells Nucky that he is willing to accept his credit, Nucky's mood quickly become's sour. Now feeling "unwelcome" at the casino, Rothstein agrees to leave, but tells Nucky that he is still owed 33,000 after subtracting the money for the whiskey shipment. Nucky then tells Steinman to cash Rothstein out.

Rothstein returns to New York and arranges for his associate Davey Murdoch to collect the shipment. Murdoch and his men are murdered in a hijacking and the shipment is lost. Rothstein suspects that Nucky is responsible when Nucky starts avoiding his calls. In reality Nucky's driver and Torrio's driver planned the hijacking without their bosses knowledge, although both Torrio and Nucky profited from the plan.

The Ivory Tower[]

Main article: The Ivory Tower

Rothstein plays pool in a large games room. His assistant, the Grey-Haired Man, announces the arrival of Luciano. Luciano has brought Frankie Yale with him as instructed. Rothstein greets Yale and tells him he knows that he has been to Chicago. Yale claims to have been visiting a friend and Luciano says that the visit went badly for Yale’s friend. Rothstein offers Yale a drink and tells him a story. Rothstein once knew a small time short con artist who would bet players at a pool hall that he could swallow a ball. The man could perform the feat and was able to regurgitate the ball. Rothstein had seen him succeed with the con several times. Rothstein bet the man 10,000 dollars that he could not swallow a ball of Rothstein's choosing. The man agreed which Rothstein took as a sign the man thought Rothstein stupid. Rothstein selected the cue ball and the man choked to death. Rothstein knew that the cue ball was larger than the others. Rothstein tells Yale the story as a warning not to treat him as stupid. Rothstein demands to know who ordered Yale to kill Big Jim Colosimo. The murder was ordered by Johnny Torrio to clear the way for Torrio to get into bootlegging. Rothstein also learns that Torrio bought the shipment of liquor that was hijacked and concludes that Nucky was behind the hijacking.

Nucky eventually takes one of Rothstein’s calls, telling Rothstein it is a pleasant surprise. Rothstein says he is willing to call the loss of the shipment a misunderstanding but wants 100,000 dollars to cover it. Nucky is shocked. Rothstein says that Nucky has sold the shipment to Chicago and murdered his men including his sister-in-law's nephew. Nucky denies having any involvement and tells Rothstein he does not care if his mother was one of the drivers. Rothstein asks if this is how Nucky does business and Nucky threatens to show him how he does business if he returns to Atlantic City before hanging up.

Broadway Limited[]

Main article: Broadway Limited

Rothstein's wife's nephew Simon is discovered in the woods. He survived the Hammonton hijacking despite being shot. Simon dies while being questioned by Prohibition Agent Nelson Van Alden but not before he identifies Jimmy Darmody as one of the perpetrators.

Charlie Luciano watches Rothstein play poker. Rothstein is left with only one opponent in the hand, Buck, and asks for Luciano’s assessment. Luciano checks Rothstein’s hand before saying it depends on the other player’s hand. Rothstein asks what Luciano thinks Buck has and Luciano says he is not psychic. Rothstein observes that the pot is full and asks Buck to estimate the amount; Buck’s guess is simply “plenty”. Rothstein states that the exact amount bet so far is $22,500; this is confirmed by the Dealer. Rothstein asks Buck how much mining equipment he would need to sell to earn as much as that and Buck’s answer is vague again. Rothstein raises the bet $5000 and Buck folds, admitting he was bluffing. To Buck’s annoyance Rothstein shows his cards and says he was bluffing too. Rothstein suggests a break and another player jokes that they have only been going for 14 hours. Luciano asks Rothstein why he was summoned and Rothstein relays the news of Simon’s discovery in the woods and subsequent death. Luciano helps Rothstein to change his collar and offers condolences. Rothstein has learned that Jimmy was one of two shooters involved in the hijacking and orders Luciano to find out the name of the other shooter from Jimmy and then kill them both.


Main article: Anastasia

Luciano goes to Jimmy's address in Atlantic City and meets his mother, Gillian Darmody. Luciano mistakenly believes that she is his wife and the two begin a romantic relationship.

Nights in Ballygran[]

Main article: Nights in Ballygran

Rothstein meets with his attorney, Bill Fallon, in a New York barbershop to discuss ongoing media coverage alleging his involvement in fixing the baseball world series. Rothstein worries that he was seen meeting with boxer Abe Attell and then ate dinner with baseball player "Sleepy Bill" Burns at the Astor hotel. Fallon recommends ignoring the accusations until they pass but Rothstein is concerned that the World Series was months ago already.

Family Limitation[]

Main article: Family Limitation

Rothstein tracks Luciano down to a hotel in Atlantic City and calls him there. Luciano answers “yeah” and Arnold Rothstein criticizes his telephone manner. Rothstein observes that Luciano is obviously not in Saratoga as planned. Luciano confirms and asks how Rothstein knew; Rothstein says he used his crystal ball and goes on to, correctly, predict that Luciano is not wearing his trousers. Luciano laughs and asks why Rothstein is calling. Rothstein hands a letter to his assistant as Luciano says that he cannot speak freely. Luciano asks if he can call Rothstein back as he is with Jimmy Darmody’s wife. Rothstein enlightens Luciano that Gillian Darmody is actually Jimmy’s mother and hangs up.


Main article: Home

Lucky Luciano contacts the D'Alessio brothers in Atlantic City. He offers them the opportunity to work for Rothstein if they rob Lolly Steinman's casino and give 50% of the expected $150,000 take to Rothstein.

Hold Me in Paradise[]

Main article: Hold Me in Paradise

In New York City Rothstein sits as his attorney Bill Fallon pours a glass of milk for him. Fallon tells Rothstein that he has heard rumours of the District Attorney investigating the Chicago White Sox. Rothstein asks which players and Fallon tells him that it is Seacott and Jackson. Rothstein recognizes that the authorities are targeting the farm boys. Fallon half-heartedly reassures Rothstein that Abe Attell will say nothing whatever the players reveal. Rothstein says that Attell has already been talking to their shared associated. Fallon wonders what will happen if he is questioned and Rothstein predicts that he will fold quickly. Fallon asks Rothstein to repeat his practice denial which he does; beginning with a commentary on his respect for baseball. Fallon improves the wording slightly. Rothstein goes on to say that he was approached by Attell but turned down his offer to fix the 1919 world series and then avoided betting on the series. Fallon plays prosecutor and asks if a man named “Sport” Sullivan also approached Rothstein. Rothstein says that he is approached daily by people with schemes and that suffering fools is not illegal. Fallon jokes that it is not too late for Rothstein to attend law school. Rothstein grins and counters that he prefers to make an honest living.

The casino robbery goes according to plan until Atlantic County Sheriff Eli Thompson arrives to make the collection. Eli is shot but the D'Alessio brothers escape unharmed with the take.

Belle Femme[]

Main article: Belle Femme

Rothstein plays pool in his games room in New York City. Meyer Lansky knocks and lets himself in, sharing a nod with Rothstein. Lansky is followed by Leo and Ignacious D’Alessio, Mickey Doyle and Lucky Luciano. Luciano introduces the others and they shake hands with Rothstein. Leo says that it is an honor to meet him; Rothstein notes that they have heard of him and wonders what it was that they heard. Leo says that it was all good. Rothstein wonders if he has a reputation for honesty and fairness and Leo says that he has. Rothstein tells them that a reputation takes a lifetime to build and seconds to destroy before completing a difficult trick shot. He asks Luciano to re-rack the balls and counts a few bills from his sizable bankroll. He tells his visitors that he has heard that they are interested in the liquor business and Ignacious says that they are interested in making money. Rothstein challenges Luciano to a game of eight ball pool for $500. Luciano breaks as Lansky takes the wager. Rothstein says that are two ways to make money in the alcohol business, the first being to take cheap whiskey and dilute it before resale. Doyle interjects that he was doing well with that way and Rothstein continues calling this the stupid way which does not interest him. Rothstein notes the growing demand for quality whiskey and the money that can be made by importing it. He believes rich people will vie with one another to serve the best whiskey to their guests. Rothstein plays as he talks and sinks a succession of balls. He tells his guests that he is interested in setting up a business importing scotch whiskey. He plans to use his own ships to bring the liquor from distilleries in Europe to be unloaded outside the 3 mile limit. He explains that it then needs to be smuggled ashore and Lansky adds that this will be the D’Alessio brother’s role. Rothstein asserts that Atlantic City is perfect for this purpose but that Nucky is a problem. He says that he would normally make a deal with someone like Nucky but that he finds Nucky greedy and unreasonable. Leo notes that these are qualities that can be remedied with a bullet. Luciano smiles at the remark while Rothstein ignores it and asks his visitors to sign forms that he has prepared for them to signify their acceptance of his proposal. Leo wonders what the forms are for and Luciano elucidates. They are $500,000 life insurance policies from Rothstein’s own Rothmere Surety company. Rothstein adds that they will be handling large quantities of his money and that the policies are assurance for him. Luciano tells them to consider it an incentive not to make mistakes as Lansky hands them a pen. Leo and Ignacious are hesitant and Luciano urges them on in Italian. Leo, apparently lacking literacy skills, grips the pen at its base and makes his mark. Doyle joins the others and with the forms signed Lansky offers to show them out. Once they are gone Rothstein asks Luciano if he knows the nicest thing about the Bronx Zoo. Luciano does not respond and Rothstein delivers his punchline along with potting another ball; “there’s bars between you and the monkeys”.

Luciano is captured by Jimmy Darmody and gives away Rothstein as the backer of the D'Alessio brothers. Luciano narrowly avoids being killed because Jimmy is arrested by Prohibition Agents. The brothers attempt to kill Nucky is thwarted by Eddie Kessler.

The Emerald City[]

Main article: The Emerald City

A Return to Normalcy[]

Main article: A Return to Normalcy

Thompson indicates that he is willing to forget about the hijacking incident if Rothstein pays one million dollars and gives up the locations of the other D'Alessio brothers.

See also[]