(Bloomberg) -- Listen and subscribe to Spellcaster: The Fall of Sam Bankman-Fried in Amazon Music, Apple and Spotify. Follow the series from the beginning. 

Sam Bankman-Fried spent a lot of time telling his own story — doing copious interviews during the meteoric rise of his cryptocurrency exchange FTX and even after its collapse. There was his childhood home on the campus of Stanford University, where his parents were law professors specializing in philosophy and tax law. College was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His first job was in finance, at Jane Street Group.

But in a new podcast from Bloomberg and Wondery, people close to Bankman-Fried offer a more level slant on his origin tale — how a kid who grew up amid conversations about moral philosophy became an adult who relished games where he could outsmart everyone in the room. One college friend, Chewy Shaw, recalled how Bankman-Fried delighted in making alliances with opponents, selling them on a partnership that he’d unilaterally dissolve to his advantage later. “He did have a lot of glee when somebody discovered that he had tricked them,” Shaw said. 

Bankman-Fried’s gamesmanship would become key to his success on Wall Street, where he landed a trading job at a firm that was full of people like himself: privileged, brilliant math nerds with big ambitions and a desire to give back. And it would become one of the core pillars of his crypto empire. Friends and backers would see him as a strategic savant; critics saw something darker.

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