Straight Flush by Ben Mezrich

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Straight Flush by Ben Mezrich

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Buy Straight Flush by Ben Mezrich at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: True Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James
Summary: The only criticism that can be launched at Ben Mezrich's excellent new book is that it could do with being longer! Another great read from one of the best non-fiction authors out there today. Ben Mezrich popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: June 2013
Publisher: William Heinemann
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0434022649

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Ben Mezrich's latest book tells the story of six college kids - frat brothers from the University of Montana - who built up AbsolutePoker.com, one of the world's largest poker sites - only for it to come crashing down as the legality of online poker became more and more of an issue, with the Department of Justice getting involved. We find out in the first chapter, as one of the six prepares to return to the USA from Central America to face prosecution, that things have gone horribly wrong. Just how horribly wrong, we have to wait to find out...

Mezrich writes some of the most exciting non-fiction books I've ever read. While for me, his best ever work was financial thriller Ugly Americans, his gambling books haven't been at all far behind. Bringing Down The House (which inspired the movie 21) and Breaking Vegas were both excellent, and the shift of focus from blackjack to poker for Straight Flush has paid off well here. This is a fascinating tale - especially for those of us who remember some of the more public parts of Absolute's downfall, although it's accessible enough that you can read it with no prior knowledge of the site or its history. I think Mezrich's huge strength as an author is that he manages to bring characters to life so quickly. Within a few chapters, everyone who he's writing about has been vividly described and I was desperate to find out what happened to each of them.

That said, as good as it is, Mezrich hasn't quite hit the jackpot for me in the same way that he did with the other books of his that I've read. It's not five stars as it seems slightly unbalanced - there's more time dedicated to the site's rise, with lots of the epic partying and living it up, than there is for the more interesting story of the site's downfall. I was left wanting to know more details about the big scandals which hit Absolute and brought the six founders down. In fact, relatively rarely for me, I would have loved an extra hundred or so pages!

All in all, though, when the biggest criticism that can be found about a book is that I wished it had been longer, it's a fairly clear recommendation! Very enjoyable and I'm already looking forward to whatever Ben Mezrich does next.

If you want to stick with Mezrich - and why wouldn't you? - the three I mentioned above are all fabulous, while fellow Bookbag reviewer Zoe also highly recommends The Accidental Billionaires: Sex, Money, Betrayal and the Founding of Facebook by Ben Mezrich.

Bookinterviews.jpg Ben Mezrich was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

Buy Straight Flush by Ben Mezrich at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Straight Flush by Ben Mezrich at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Straight Flush by Ben Mezrich at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Straight Flush by Ben Mezrich at Amazon.com.

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