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Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions
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Product Description

#1 National Bestseller!

The amazing inside story about a gambling ring of M.I.T.students who beat the system in Vegas -- and lived to tell how.

Robin Hood meets the Rat Pack when the best and the brightest of M.I.T.'s math students and engineers take up blackjack under the guidance of an eccentric mastermind. Their small blackjack club develops from an experiment in counting cards on M.I.T.'s campus into a ring of card savants with a system for playing large and winning big. In less than two years they take some of the world's most sophisticated casinos for more than three million dollars. But their success also brings with it the formidable ire of casino owners and launches them into the seedy underworld of corporate Vegas with its private investigators and other violent heavies.

Filled with tense action, high stakes, and incredibly close calls, Bringing Down the House is a nail-biting read that chronicles a real-life Ocean's Eleven. It's one story that Vegas does not want you to read.

Customer Reviews:

  • Great book
    This is the first book that interested me enough to actually finish at the age of 24. The story is excellent and told very well. You won't be bored or disappointed if you get it. ...more info
  • This needed to have more umph to it
    Rhis book needed to have more umph, more dynamite suspense. more of a sense of 'will we get away with it' to it. No pictures also makes this book lacking. I wanted to see the people who pulled all these card counting routines off. Pictures of the eye in the sky cameras. Pictures of casino bosses....more info
  • The Real Revenge Of The Nerds
    Winning gambling strategies, including counting cards, are mostly a tedious grind, so making it fast-paced and glamorous takes an art. The book is hard to put down as you keep waiting for these students to make a mistake and get caught.

    The one question I kept asking myself as I was reading the book was if any of these MIT mathematical whiz kids would have lived to tell this story if organized crime was still operating the casinos instead of big corporations.

    Brilliant book about an almost brilliant idea....more info
  • not the best on the subject
    This book was mostly fiction. The MIT students did succeed in counting cards successfully but the author embellished the story to the point of fiction in many cases. Nevertheless, it is fairly interesting as a light read although not very well-written. For a much more interesting look at card counting read another book called "Striking It Rich: Golf in the Kingdom with Generals, Patients amd Pros". I enjoyed this book immensely. It was written by an MIT grad who actually did the card counting and it shows. It is also about MIT and medicine (the guy is now a plastic surgeon) and golf (he is a pro golfer also) but the chapter on his former life as a card counter is fascinating and much more informative that BDTH....more info
  • better than movie
    the book was naturally a lot more detailed than the movie. they changed a lot about the characters in the movie. if you read the book and then watch the movie afterwords, you will probably be disappointed....more info
  • Great read and interesting development
    I read this book for my monthly book club. This book was a fast read and the characters and plot was an interesting development. I still can't believe that this is a true story!

    I'm definitely looking forward to the movie to see if it lives up to the expectations that the book has already set....more info
  • The Amusement Park of Movie Novels
    I picked this book up from FLL's bookstore when I had a 5 hour wait till my flight, and I couldn't have been happier with my decision. It might have been the way it was just a random book I picked up, so I dont want to hype this book too much, that way you will have the same experience I did.

    It's a very fast paced reading. It's not a book with gobs of scenery and hidden meanings, which really adds to the book because it gives it the feeling of being told the story first hand, instead of reading a polished work of literary art. It was enough to keep a 18 year who doesnt read for fun very often interested in the Fort Lauderdale Airport until his flight boarded, then couldn't stop reading during the flight, then the drive home and and even had to pick up the moment he finished unpacking his bags.

    I'd love to give Ben Mezrich all the credit, he did a great job with this story. But as the book starts, it shows the main character Kevin telling him to write a book about his life and Ben sceptical. Then eventually, after listening enough he gives in. He was given a gift from God, any writer (well, good writer) could turn a story this interesting into a bestseller.

    I cant wait for the movie to come out, but so far things dont look good. Im not sure if you have seen the previews, but if you havent and you are planning on reading the book, keep it that way. They make sure to say that it was "inspired by a true story." That doesnt mean "follows" or "is pretty much like" it means "we took this story and it gave us an idea of what to make to put onto the big screen." The movie looks phenomenal, dont get me wrong. Im just hoping they wont turn this great story into the Vegas-movie hollywood cut-out.

    As you can see by the 5 stars, I obviously enjoyed it very much. I reccomend to anybody who likes fast-paced action-packed stories who doesnt spend most of their time with their nose in a novel and just wants to have fun following Kevin take Vegas by the balls....more info
  • fast paced, exciting and sometimes scary!
    This was a fast paced read, with lots of excitement, and it is easy to see why they are making a movie based on this (the movie uses the title of "21").

    An intriguing look into the world of Vegas, the author does a nice job of presenting the mathematics involved in the scheme without bogging down the flow of the book.

    As seen on shows like "Vegas", the counter measures casinos have in place to prevent the activities the characters undertake are demonstrated with sometimes chilling effect - facial recognition technology, and in particular the sharing of information not just by casinos along the Vegas Strip but with locations throughout the world.

    I was actually surprised at the total dollar amounts involved - I expected more to be at stake to cause such a ruckus, but it shows just how serious the casinos are about protecting their cash flow.

    An exciting and interesting read, recommended for both gamblers and fans of adventure, fictional or otherwise....more info
  • Great book
    Pros: Great book about MIT students who use their brains for more than science, but to take advantage of inefficient markets. Well written, fast paced and exciting.

    Cons: None

    Summary: Fast read about a real story that's exciting and fun.

    Overall: 9/10...more info
  • Entertaining
    It's certainly worth the read and is an interesting look at a group taking on Vegas. As most know, the book chronicles the rise and fall of one of the MIT blackjack teams and gives a behind the scenes look at the roller coaster ride they went on. There were tense moments that kepy the reader turning pages when the team was avoiding being caught, but there really weren't as many stories of the "Vegas" lifestyle as I was expecting. The finish was predictable and somewhat anti-climatic....more info
  • Bringing down the House (High-School Review)
    "Bringing Down The House", was a great book and I honestly enjoyed reading it. I would have to give it a stable 4/5. There were many great elements to the book and Ben Mezrich did a great job at getting his point through.

    I believe that Mezrich was trying to portray the idea of knowing the right time to stop and walk away from a shifty environment. In this certain book this idea relates to the idea of playing Blackjack and its drawbacks.

    Kevin is a MIT student and wants nothing more to do than just finish college and get a successful job. Then, that faithful day comes when he learns about his two friends and how they have been supporting each other. At first, when he learns about the idea of Blackjack and making millions, he quickly swipes it away. But, as time goes on he sees there is more to the game than just luck and that is counting cards. In a matter of weeks Kevin is hooked on the idea of making "free money" by using his school skills. In a matter of months Kevin becomes a pro and is considered an elite player. The question is when will his streak end?

    When I got to the part of the serious gambling, that is when the real action in the book picks up for me. The idea of gambling and being able to sink a casino in a matter of weeks, gives you a thrill. There is also the part which everyone fears and that is getting barred from the casino or sometimes even worst. For me it can't get any more intense than that. This adrenaline flows into you while reading and the suspense builds up. You can not wait to flip the page and see what follows because you are so wrapped up in the story. I was on the edge of my seat throughout the book trying to anticipate the characters next move, which was very intriguing. The book is also very thorough at explanations. At times it is as if you can see the surroundings near you because of the vivid details.

    Mezrich does a great job to make the story flow smoothly and yet include those great moments. His writing style is unmistakable and very unique itself.

    The reason I gave it a 4/5 though was because after a few Las Vegas chapters the writer would switch back to what the narrator is experiencing. To me this is when the story got dull and took more time to read. It was informational and all, but it just took away from the action of Vegas. To me without that second secret life Kevin was just ordinary and that was not too interesting to read about. Anyway that was the only real part I was really bugged by, otherwise it was a great book.

    Overall, this book was great. It had all the right elements for a nice read. Definitely one of the best non-fiction books I have read in a long time and it was written in a way that was not too hard to understand, but yet contained some difficulty too. In my opinions this is the type of book other kids my age would greatly enjoy since it could be easily connected to events in real life.
    ...more info
  • lots of misinformation
    I'm an MIT alumnus and was friends with some blackjack team players at various times between 1979 and the present. Whenever Mezrich writes about something where I have personal knowledge, he seems to be fabricating information. This applies even to simple stuff, e.g., he talks about people "graduating from MIT with honors", something that is possible at Harvard, where he studied (one hopes he did not study journalism or factual research there), but not possible at MIT. He talks about some of his characters being MIT engineering majors and being elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society, whose own Web site states clearly that "To be eligible for election, students must have pursued a broad program of study in the liberal arts and sciences" (i.e., engineers are not eligible).

    Mezrich and his publisher get many facts wrong that they could have easily checked with Google and Wikipedia. It makes a reader wonder about the stuff that cannot be independently verified......more info
  • I can almost feel the cool rush of oxygen-rich casio air fill my lungs as I turn each page.
    Halfway through the book as the team arrives at the MGM Grand I'm on the verge of tears as I'm certain they won't get a decent table. But they do; relief washes over me in an awesome wave. I can almost feel the cool rush of oxygen saturated casino air fill my lungs as I turn each page. I can hear the slot machines buzzing as they randomly turn out winners every few minutes. I can also feel the sides of my cheeks starting to hurt when I realize I have been smiling so big for too long.

    This book instantly transports you to Vegas, and then right to the cushy seat at a black-jack table. Short sweet, and to the point. The pages turn over almost as fast as the cards at the tables. If I had to describe this book in one word it would be "fun".

    Remember what it felt like when your best friend had Algebra II 4th period, and you had it 5th period. Remember how he would give you all the answers at lunch for the test you were about to take all year. Having that feeling of knowing you can't loose is what it must be like to be the main character Kevin Lewis or any card-counter for that matter. Of course winning 5 hands at one table at $10,000 a hand is probably a bit more exciting that getting that A+ on a math test in 8th grade.

    I can't wait to see the movie, and for that matter get to Las Vegas. It is appalling they had to name it "21" so it wouldn't be confused with the Steve Martin and Queen Latifah Train-wreck with the same name. If you want to take your mind away from your boring life for a few hours and transport yourself to America's playground without having to hop a flight, then this is the book for you. ...more info
  • Great price for a great book!
    Book was like new and delivered as promised. Great book for a great price. Very easy transaction. Thank you!...more info
  • An Entertaining and Effortless Storyline
    There is a lot of discussion regarding the veracity of this book which if important to you should be a consideration. I cannot comment on how accurate any of the writing is as my only knowledge of this subject comes from this book.

    What this book does offer is a short and easy to read storyline regarding the lives of MIT students who took many casinos, most prominently in Las Vegas, for considerable money with a team effort card counting system for Blackjack. This book does not go into significant depth on card counting and jumps around slightly regarding the narration from the protagonist's point of view to chapters on the author's actual research.

    The book as a whole is interesting and will be an enjoyable read for anyone looking for an interesting storyline without any of the expectations of noteworthy insider secrets of gambling and card counting. The writing style, while not the most articulate, provides effortless reading as I expect the author's intent was to provide a book for the masses.

    If you are looking to get a little insight into how the big money card counters make their money and the lifestyle and potential dangers they encounter, you will find this book is both worthwhile and enjoyable.
    ...more info
  • Fantastic book...one of my favorites!
    I don't read much since it's hard to find something that keeps me interested. I couldn't put this down! It's an amazing story, especially considering it's true. I didn't think there would be much suspense to the story, but man was I wrong. The way the author tells it, he hints at something that could be coming, and sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. I loved it. For those looking to buy a book to learn how to count cards...this isn't it! This isn't even really a book about basic strategy. They talk about it VERY little since it's needed for the story, but the book is focused on the journey of one young man (20s for most of the book...my age) through Vegas, Atlantic City, and finding himself and his place in the world.

    I can't recommend this book enough. I loved it!...more info
  • Interesting story, decent writing...I just wish it was true.
    I thoroughly enjoyed this book, which I actually read after seeing the movie. I was not surprised that they made some changes and added and subtracted some things for the movie, but I have to admit that I was surprised at how much they went out of their way to make the movie bankable. It was a bit frustrating to discover that they literally made up huge chunks of the movie because they obviously didn't think the whole "overprivileged Asian kids beating Vegas" was dramatic enough.

    As for the book itself, I was surprised to find, after a bit of research, that there was hardly any truth to it whatsoever. I reference a Boston Globe article that so many others have in their reviews:
    [...]
    Although I understand the changes that were made the lies that were perpetuated in the movie for drama's sake, it frustrates me that Mr. Mezrich essentially fabricated so much of this book simply to make it more "interesting". I would have read it had it not ever mentioned these MIT kids being chased out of Vegas casinos or suffering beat-downs at a casino in the Bahamas.

    That said...it is still an interesting story and at least Mr. Mezrich did a decent job of telling it. It's a good read but anyone who picks it up needs to know that it is really more a work of fiction than of non-fiction....more info