The author of two of the best-selling books, Busting Vegas: The MIT Whiz Kid Who Brought the Casinos to Their Knees and The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal, (both of which turned into acclaimed full-length feature films) has another book in the works, which seems to revolve around the founding of Absolute Poker by Scott Tom and company. Ben Mezrich recently appeared on CNBC to talk about among other things his new project:
“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.”
After being asked “what school” the kids were from, Mezrich all but signaled the book would be on Absolute Poker co-founders Scott Tom, Brent Beckley, Garin Gustaffson, and Oscar Hilt Tatum by saying, “University of Montana.” The AP founders are known as the SAE (Sigma Alpha Epsilon) Frat boys, where they met at the University of Montana.
While to the laymen this may seem like something of a rags to riches story, for poker players Mezrich’s interpretation of the Absolute Poker founders is probably somewhere between a kick to the groin and a knife in the back, considering Scott Tom and his cohorts are alleged to have stolen millions from the poker community by Super-Using their players. Unlike Mezrich, most poker players who have lost money to the Absolute Poker cheating scandal or to their subsequent shutdown after Black Friday “something very American” is not a term they would use in a positive light.
Based on his quick explanation of the book, and his admission that his niche is intersecting business and entertainment, Mezrich seems to be focusing on just the founding of the company, so it will be interesting to see how Mezrich portrays the major players – which if they come out smelling like roses will likely cause a major uproar in the poker world.
The Absolute Poker scandal was of course the first major, mainstream, online poker scandal, when a player using the name “PotRipper” absolutely crushed a major tournament on the site, and when the runner-up asked for hand histories was sent the unedited files with all hole cards, which showed that “PotRipper” was likely able to see his opponents’ hole-cards.
Scott Tom and Brent Beckley were indicted on Black Friday for their roles with Absolute Poker – Scott Tom is still in hiding, while Beckley, who was the chief of Absolute Poker’s payment processing department, was taken into custody and was recently sentenced to 14-months in jail in New York.
You can watch the segment of CNBC’s Squawk Box where Mezrich discusses his upcoming project here: CNBC Video