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Ben Mezrich and the Absolute Poker Book Connection, Part 2

(continued from Part 1)

Was the 2+2 poster “styleXX” a random poster guessing that author Ben Mezrich might want to write a book on the Absolute Poker frat boys, or did he have an inside connection?

Here’s the 2+2 post from October of 2007 that exhibited either amazing prescience or some hint of inside knowledge:

10-19-2007, 11:05 PM  #1
centurion
Join Date: Dec 2005
Location: Kokamo
Posts: 198
Ben Mezrich’s New Book “The Boys from Montana SAE”

I’ve said for 3 years Ben Mezrich’s book on the online poker scandal won’t be written for atleast 10 more years. It might be sooner, but instead of a bunch of MIT guys it’s “The Boys from Montana SAE” Phi Alpha!

That’s right: November of 2007.  Sometimes people can make lucky guesses, but this seemed to be an extreme coincidence.  So I did a little digging.

AP-logoThe first thing I did was to search the 2+2 archives for all posts made by StyleXX, the poster of the above.  I was curious enough about styleXX’s Mezrich post to wonder whether or not he knew more about the AP or the frat boys or whatever.  Sure enough, in at least one other 2+2 post, styleXX wrote that he, like the AP founders, was an alum of the SAE (Sigma Alpha Epsilon) fraternity at the University of Montana.

The SAE alumni registries are online. I’ve had those for years, so that gave me a list of several hundred possible names for the mystery poster.  StyleXX also offered up some other real-life details, including:

  • Being a Missoula, Montana-area realtor;
  • Having once gotten into a street confrontation with Montana native and degen poker pro Layne Flack over an ex-girlfriend, in some weird scene that involved the brandishing of a baseball bat.  StyleXX also had written elsewhere that he’d later become friends with Flack.

Those two facts told me that the mystery poster was probably a little bit older than the AP frat boys themselves, and that he probably had at least some minor connections to poker himself.  Missoula’s a local hotbed of small casinos and poker games, so this wouldn’t be at all unusual.

Anyhow, assuming the poster’s own tales were real, they provided decent searching ammo.     Do you remember your Venn diagrams from math class?  That’s where you graph out areas with distinct conditions and see where they intersect.  Envisioning a Venn diagram for our mystery “styleXX” poster would result in something like this:

ScreenHunter_05 May. 24 17.25

So, armed with 35 years of SAE alumni names, I began correlating them against Montana realtor registries.  That produced a link to exactly one name, a Missoula-area realtor named Michael Jessie Eagen.  One and only one name, mind you.

Was Eagen the mystery “styleXX” poster?  Even that link wasn’t really enough, until I did a little digging.  Eagen’s Facebook presence quickly proved connections to both Flack and the SAE frat boys who founded AP, among many other poker people who both of us seem to know:

ScreenHunter_05 May. 24 17.41

ScreenHunter_05 May. 24 17.53

ScreenHunter_05 May. 24 17.45Wenz, like Beckley, was an important figure at Absolute Poker.  Now, Eagen has lots of friends, both on Facebook and in poker, and he has a few minor poker tourney results, too.

It all added up to Eagen being the mystery “styleXX” poster on 2+2, though there was certainly nothing nefarious about it, and I wish the man no ill fortune.  Still, the fact that he made that post back in 2007 suggests that at some point he’d probably partied or communicated with his SAE frat-brother alum, who would have been prominent at WSOP gatherings throughout the mid-2000s.

Toss in a bit of alcohol and a few hours of storytelling, and I’d find it perfectly feasible for one of the AP fratboys to have mentioned that they’d been out partying with Ben Mezrich, and that the AP story might just make a great future Mezrich book… hint, hint.  Then, the AP scandal happened, and Eagen (if it was indeed him), found it a rumor juicy enough to post.

I even “friended” Eagen myself on Facebook and asked him about it: he didn’t respond, which means he also didn’t deny it.  It’s unfortunate that I even have to bring out the name of somebody like Eagen, who’s done absolutely (no pun intended) nothing wrong.  That’s why I’m not linking to his Facebook page.

It’s still bothersome when the likes of Ben Mezrich make accusations about “tinfoil hat” theories, when it’s extremely likely that the styleXX post on 2+2 came about in the general manner that I’d described.  I’d even go far as to say the little research above is probably more than Mezrich has ever put into a book in his life, but let’s wait a bit before we talk about that particular literary endeavor.

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