Non-fiction Friday: 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 by Ben Mezrich

11book"Straight Flush" by Ben Mezrich.

Sex on the Moon was a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction account of a guy who stole a moon rock. A moon rock. The Accidental Billionaires is the Mark Zuckerberg-story-turned-blockbuster-film. Bringing Down the House inspired the Kevin Spacey film 21. And then there’s Straight Flush.

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 by Ben Mezrich – the master of narrative non-fiction – kind of let me down with this one. His (true) stories are usually much more compelling than this, and I felt like he just wrote the story with little care in delivery or climax. I cared not one iota about these frat brothers-turned-online businessmen. A couple of them wanted to operate a legit business, a couple others wanted the cocaine and hookers that come along with operating such a large business. I didn’t care for any of them. And they are real people, which makes me feel bad. I haven’t ever met these guys and I don’t like most of them.

Oh right, you want to know what the book is about. Read the title again. Yeah, that’s it. No surprises. Nothing else. It’s the story of how one poker website dealt with the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, a law that piggybacked on the Safe Port Act which tightened security around – wait for it – our ports.

This is one of those times when I’m simply disappointed. I know Mezrich can do better, so why didn’t he? It’s not like it was timely or anything. 2006? 7 years? Come on. A little more editing, maybe a little more back story, maybe fewer pages?

Recommended for:
I’m not recommending this book. Read one of the titles I mentioned in the first paragraph.

Read-alikes: Any narrative non-fiction by Mezrich, Michael Lewis, or Mary Roach.

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2 thoughts on “Non-fiction Friday: 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 by Ben Mezrich

  1. I agree with your sentiments about the book. I far more enjoyed “Bringing down the house” than this latest ‘rush job’ (maybe those publishers are pushing too hard). Interestingly and for the record; in an interview he had with the Book report radio show, host Elaine Charles did ask him how long he researched this book. His answer: “six or seven months”, and only started due to them (the culprits) asking him to write the story…maybe that’s the reason for the rush, as Scott Tom tries to currently swing a favorable settlement with the DoJ.

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