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'Straight Flush' tells story of billion dollar online poker site born in Seattle

Ben Mezrich, the writer whose work spawned films like "The Social Network" and "21" has a new book out and the story's central character is from Seattle. (Image courtesy William Morrow)

The writer whose work spawned films like "The Social Network" and "21" has a new book out and the story's central character is from Seattle.

"Straight Flush" tells the story of a group of fraternity brothers from the University of Montana who are inspired to set up an online poker company and what happens to them when the government decides that is illegal.

Author Ben Mezrich tells KIRO Radio's Ron & Don Show the online poker operation was actually born in a basement in Seattle. "The main character, whose dad lived in Seattle, started the business in his dad's basement."

The online poker website was established in the early 2000s. Mezrich says at this time no one really knew the rules. "There was no specific law that said online poker is illegal, and there was no reason to think that you could get arrested for having an Internet company like that."

There was definitely a market for the online poker gaming, and the site's founders soon found themselves running a $1 million a day earner in Costa Rica.

"Essentially they were bringing in $1 million a day, there were about 15 million U.S. people playing poker online and it just grew into a massive industry."

Eventually though, the government declared its stance on online poker and it was judgment day. "There was a day which is known as black Friday. It was April 15 of 2011 when the U.S. government raided all these sites," says Mezrich. "This was the sort of moment [...] known when to hold them, know when to fold them."

Without ruining the ending, Mezrich says the story is a crazy rise and fall that reportedly includes a lot of drama and twists and turns. Like his other books, you'll likely get to see it on the big screen someday, but Mezrich says there is no movie deal in place yet. So best pick up the book if the story sounds like a good one to you.

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About the Author


Whether it's floating on Green Lake, eating shrimp tacos at Agua Verde, or taking weekend drives out to the Cascades, she loves to enjoy the Pacific Northwest lifestyle as much as humanly possible.

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