From the New York Times bestselling author of The Accidental Billionaires and Bringing Down the House—the sources for the films The Social Network and 21—comes the larger-than-life true tale of a group of American college buddies who brilliantly built a billion-dollar online poker colossus based out of the hedonistic paradise of Costa Rica.
One problem: the U.S. Department of Justice was gunning for them. . . .
Based on extensive insider interviews and participation, acclaimed author Ben Mezrich's Straight Flush tells the captivating rags-to-riches tale of a group of University of Montana frat brothers who turned a weekly poker game in the basement of a local dive bar into AbsolutePoker.com, one of the largest online companies in the world, on par with some of the behemoths of the Internet. At its height, Absolute Poker was an online empire earning more than a million dollars a day, following savvy business strategy and even better luck. Its founders set up their operations in the exotic jungle paradise of Costa Rica, embracing an outrageous lifestyle of girls, parties, and money.
Meanwhile, the gray area of U.S. and international law in which the company operated was becoming a lot more risky, and soon the U.S. Department of Justice had placed a bull's-eye on Absolute Poker. Should they fold—or double down and ride their hot hand? Impossible to put down, Straight Flush is an exclusive, never-before-seen look behind the headlines of one of the wildest business stories of the past decade.
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.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Is book reminds me of the glory days for this author, as I was turned off by Sex on the Moon and others. Tis books is fantastic and a page turner. You will not put it down, and if you read in bed at night like I do, you will lose a night of sleep. Great job, Ben, keep it up. AC
Reads more like a movie...
The story was interesting and entertaining but I felt like I was reading a movie pitch rather than an historical account of an amazing series of events.
This is another great book by Mezrich. All his books clearly stand for reality is greater than fiction. One could not make up this story.