Ben Mezrich Responds to Poker Community’s Criticism of “Straight Flush”

To say that the poker community’s response to Ben Mezrich’s “Straight Flush” has been apoplectic would be a slight understatement.

The most substantial criticism has come in the form of Haley Hintze’s (still-ongoing) 10-part series detailing what Hintze describes as “an abomination of a book in virtually every way possible, a grandiose dissemination of lies and omissions that’s almost as criminal as the real actions of the out-of-control kids Mezrich attempts to deify.”

James McManus also had a few choice words for Mezrich.

And now Mezrich – via an account on TwoPlusTwo – has penned a response to the general criticisms.

Mezrich’s first post offers his explanation for the book’s scant coverage of the massive cheating scandals at both AP and UB:

Straight Flush is not a book focused on the AP cheating scandal, or the UB cheating scandal; that book may very well still be written, and there are plenty of competent journalists who seem to be very interested in writing that story. Straight Flush is the story of the rise of AP from an idea formed by a group of frat brothers, and the crash of AP due to the DOJ’s takedown of the industry. [...]

Both the AP cheating scandal and the UB cheating scandals are in the narrative; within the ten year timeline of the story, they are not the central focus, nor do i believe they should be; certainly, there are those who disagree with the way those scenes are written, and I look forward to reading other accounts of those events.

He also offers a defense of Scott Tom (and, by implication, AP and UB) that is certain to provoke some ire:

The truth is, the vast majority of people who lost money on Black Friday did not lose money because of cheating, or because of Scott Tom; IMO, they lost money because the DOJ shut the business down, froze assets; shady processors vanished with millions of dollars, many millions more were used to pay off employees because of costa rican laws, and millions more went to lawyers for legal defense. If Black Friday had not occured [sic], players would not have lost that money.

A bit later in the thread, Hintz and Mezrich get into it directly. First Hintze:

You are a fraud and a liar, sir, and all your “incredible” window dressing doesn’t change that.

… and then Mezrich responds:

Haley, you are a very talented investigative journalist, and i’ve found your research to be fascinating in some areas, but your belligerence is not constructive, and makes it hard to have a rational discussion with you. I think you are absolutely wrong about the money on the plane; other than that, i am not in a position to judge your research, but i look forward to reading your book.

The full thread is here. Mezrich comes in at post 180.

I have yet to read the book.

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Chris Grove
Chris Grove - Chris is the co-founder and an editor of OnlinePokerReport.com. He's written for dozens of gambling publications and has been involved with various aspects of the online poker industry since 2004.