Straight Flush: The True Story of Six College Friends Who Dealt Their Way to a Billion-Dollar Online Poker Empire—and How It All Came Crashing Down...
Ben Mezrich. Morrow, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-0-06-224009-5
Mezrich (author The Accidental Billionaires, the basis for the film The Social Network) displays his well-established storytelling chops in this brisk narrative of the rise and fall of an Internet gaming empire that stars six frat brothers from Montana. The tale opens in 2011 with Brent Beckley’s surrender in a Costa Rican airport to an American official. While not convinced of the illegality of his acts, Beckley admits that “maybe we were stupid.” The scene returns to the beginning at the SAE house on the University of Montana campus in 1997, where principals Garin Gustafson, Pete Barovich, Shane Blackford, and Scott Tom are introduced. After graduation, Tom’s enthusiasm for poker inspires him to create Absolute Poker, an online poker site. As the money flows in, Blackford suffers a breakdown and two different cheating scandals mar their success. Ultimately, the question of legality dogs them. In 2006, the men flee corporate offices that they have set up in Vancouver when the Royal Canadian Mounted Police begins an investigation. The passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act in the same year ultimately spells their downfall. Readers curious about fast-living frat boys with questionable judgment will enjoy this debauched business saga. Agent: Eric Simonoff, WME. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/29/2013