Just Conjecturin', Volume 45: The Mezrich Book
I've noticed today a couple of new news items referring to Ben Mezrich's upcoming effort on Absolute Poker. Mezrich's the one-time member of the fabled MIT blackjack team who wrote about that experience in the book Bringing Down the House (which I own), which later became the movie 21, which I've never watched.
This paragraph from a news story made me chortle:
When asked what he was working on, Mezrich said, "I'm working on a big new book for next summer about a bunch of college kids who launched the online poker world out of a dorm room essentially. They're brilliant kids who built an empire in a way, and now they're being persecuted, in hiding in Antigua, because they did something to me that was very American. It's an intersection of 21 and The Social Network." -- quote excerpted from a crap poker site that I rarely visit.
Persecuted victims? Okay, Ben, whatever. I'm gonna guess his book and mine will have starkly different viewpoints, though I do understand the sympatico he might feel for the AP fratboys, given his own start as part of a team that ripped off casinos. That deserves an explanation, too. I'm totally in favor of advantage blackjack players being allowed to ply their trade, but the complex systems employed by the MIT kids and their backers were a systematic fraud, romantic tale that the story may be.
(Odd aside: The Elgin, IL casino that figures prominently in Bringing Down the House is right down the road from where I live -- and I mean literally right down the road, about five miles.)
This book could be worse than the falsehood served up in BDTH, since portraying the AP core founders as victims is a goddamned farce, and I say that without seeing one word of whatever it is that Mezrich plans to write. I do note that he's not off to a great start, since the AP boys did not found online poker, nor were they responsible for what triggered AP's rapid growth phase. That idea was Mark Seif's.
I had thought on first hearing the news that the behind-the-scenes collaborator would probably turn out to be early AP poker-room manager Gian Perroni, who tried to pitch a concept for a book called Folding the Absolute Nuts a few years back. I was among those he pitched it to, and I turned it down. I'm no longer sure this is Perroni's baby. It could still be a Perroni/Mezrich package, or it could be some of the fratboys themselves, or even Phil Tom, who spewed very similar nonsense to me in a lengthy phone interview/argument a few months back.
Whatever, my best to Mezrich, though I don't respect this concept as he's promoting it. I'm sure he'll sell lots of books. I'd rather get the story right.