21: Bringing Down the House - Movie Tie-In: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions
21 Bringing Down the House Movie TieIn The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions Author:Ben Mezrich It's Friday night and you're on a red-eye to the city of sin. Strapped to your chest is half a million dollars; in your overnight bag is another twenty-five thousand in blackjack chips; and your wallet holds ten fake IDs. As soon as you land in Las Vegas, you are positive you are being investigated and followed. To top it all off, the IRS is aud... more »iting you, someone has been going through your mail -- and you have a multivariable calculus exam on Monday morning. Welcome to the world of an exclusive group of audacious MIT math geniuses who legally took the casinos for over three million dollars -- while still finding time for college keg parties, football games, and final exams.In the midst of the go-go eighties and nineties, a group of overachieving, anarchistic MIT students joined a decades-old underground blackjack club dedicated to counting cards and beating the system at major casinos around the world. While their classmates were working long hours in labs and libraries, the blackjack team traveled weekly to Las Vegas and other glamorous gambling locales, with hundreds of thousands of dollars duct-taped to their bodies. Underwritten by shady investors they would never meet, these kids bet fifty thousand dollars a hand, enjoyed VIP suites and other upscale treats, and partied with showgirls and celebrities.Handpicked by an eccentric mastermind -- a former MIT professor and an obsessive player who had developed a unique system of verbal cues, body signals, and role-playing -- this one ring of card savants earned more than three million dollars from corporate Vegas, making them the object of the casinos' wrath and eventually targets of revenge. Here is their inside story, revealing their secrets for the first time.Master storyteller Ben Mezrich takes you from the ivory towers of academia to the Technicolor world of Las Vegas, where anything can happen -- and often does. Bringing Down the House launches you into the seedy underworld of corporate Vegas -- deep into the realm of back rooms, ever-present video cameras, private investigators, and the threats and tactics of pit bosses and violent heavies. Equipped with twenty different aliases and disguises, the group of young card counters struggles around these roadblocks to live the high life -- until one fateful day when Vegas violently follows them home to Boston. Suddenly, there can be no more hiding behind false identities; the high life folds like a bad hand of cards.Filled with tense action and incredibly close calls, Bringing Down the House is a real-life mix of Liar's Poker and Ocean's Eleven -- and it's a story Vegas doesn't want you to read.« less
Rick B. (bup) - , reviewed 21: Bringing Down the House - Movie Tie-In: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions on + 164 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
"He knew he looked like the most arrogant pr**k in the world, but he didn't care. Hubris had no place in a card-counter's vocabulary. There was plenty of time for humility back in Boston..."
So, besides that bit, which will annoy me for the next week or so, it was a pretty good book. I didn't care for Mezrich's style so much (Crichton? Stephen King self-parody?), but the story is great. Much better than the movie.
Fun. A vicarious look at how a few students took some clever ideas and strategies for gaining an edge on the casinos and evolved it into a high roller lifestyle and enterprise.
The book focuses mainly on the dramatic events (big wins / losses, team turmoil, brushes with casino security) and doesn't go very deeply into the mathematical strategy the players used. I left thinking there had to be more to it than what was presented as the casinos seemed too oblivious to the brazenness of the students.
This is a very fast read. I think I was done in less than 6 or 7 hours. It is fast paced, and is a fun look behind the scenes at a casino. If you are planning a trip to a casino, you should read this; not because it will help you "bring down the house", it won't, but I found myself looking around the casino I went to with a much more knowing eye than I would have had if I had not read the book. The downside, the characters are mostly college age kids, who aren't really very interesting. I have since read the book written by the group's much older mentor, and it is a better book about the same events.
The bottom line, if you like light, escapist heist type books, you will like this one.
If you are looking for a more serious tome, try "Busting Vega$."