Wednesday, August 15, 2012

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.


wendyrstern@gmail. com said...

What about all of the players who still have their funds tied up in the "frozen" accounts of Absolute Poker or UB etc. We seem to be the biggest victims considering none of us have seen a dime of our money back? Everyone appears worried about who owns the company and it's supposed internet customer lists and other online program assets. We don't care about who should be charged for internet gambling crimes. We care about when the players funds get released? Where is our payout? How about setting up legitmate attorney's sites where they distribute the players funds back before the "owners" get any funds? We are the victims.

Haley said...

I published the above comment, but I think any player who will fully returned to AP or UB after the cheating was first exposed should have had their heads examined.

I do, however, have a ton of compassion for new players who first signed up on these sites after folks such as Joe Sebok and Prahlad Friedman started pimping for them, under the guise of it being supposedly new ownership.

However, it is still up to affected players themselves to seek legal remedies; that part of it ain't my job. It is unlikely these players will be refunded because those funds were stolen long ago.

Save your ire for people like fiction writer Ben Mezrich, hard at work on a boook glorifying Scott Tom and his AP cronies as the real innocent victims of the story. What a pile of crap that is.