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Bringing down the House: The inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions [Paperback]

Ben Mezrich
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Oct 2003

Real life all too rarely offers stories that are quite as satisfying as fiction. Bringing Down the House is one of the exceptions: a real-life action thriller oozing with money, sex and some extremely dodgy dealing...

Cheating in casinos is illegal; card-counting - making a record of what cards have so far been dealt to enable the player to make some prediction of what cards remain in the deck - is not. But casinos understandably dislike the practice and make every effort to keep card-counters out of their premises. Bringing Down the House tells the true story of the most successful financial scam ever, in which teams of brilliant young mathematicians and physicists won millions of dollars from the casinos and blackjack tables of Las Vegas, in the process getting drawn into the high life of drugs, sex and spending big.

Bringing Down the House is as readable and as fascinating as Liar's Poker or Barbarians At the Gate, an insight into a closed, excessive and utterly corrupt world of gambling in Las Vegas.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 257 pages
  • Publisher: James Bennett Pty Ltd; Reprint edition (1 Oct 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743249992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743249997
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 14 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,389,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Mezrich is the internationally best-selling author of The Ugly Americans, Busting Vegas, Rigged and Bringing Down the House:The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions; which was made into a film (21) starring Kevin Spacey. Ben Mezrich lives in Boston.

Product Description


"... Bringing Down the House is a can't-miss deal" (Lorenzo Carcaterra)

"A surreal cacophony of glamour, suspense and, eventually, terror. Part Tom Clancy, part Elmore Leonard...Gripping" (The List)

"The tale laid out in Bringing Down the House is so beguiling, so agreeably reminiscent of, say Ocean's Eleven or House of Games that you find yourself mentally casting the parts as you read along... A fine yarn' Sunday Times"

"A lively tale that could pass for thriller fiction ... Mezrich's skilled yet easy writing draws sweat to the reader's brow" (Rocky Mountain News)

"Bringing Down the House has a sensational story to tell" (Literary Review) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

A gripping real-life financial action thriller, telling the story of a brilliant team of MIT students who won millions of dollars in Las Vegas. Ocean's Eleven, but for real.

Adapted into the box office hit heist drama film 21, starring Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It was ten minutes past three in the morning, and Kevin Lewis looked like he was about to pass out. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't try this at home 5 Sep 2004
In the beginning I felt a bit confused by the way in which the book was written. Some chapters were written from the experiences of the author while some were written in third person and on top of all that it was shelved in the Biography section in the local bookstore. Once I had established what was what and who was who I really started to enjoy the book. It's about a group of MIT boffins who make a heap of money by counting cards in any casino where there's a free seat.
What's fascinating is not the exact mechanics of counting the cards (this is too difficult for a dummy like me to understand though it is explained) but it's more about the way in which they deceived the wary casino operators and the twin lives they had to live. For instance, to transport the amount of cash the team had to use some members literally strapped hundreds of thousands of dollars to their bodies whilst trying to edge past airport security.
The story is effectively told from the viewpoint of one of the main team members, namely Kevin. Kevin doesn't deny that his alter profession is profitable but for him it was the thrill of deception that really turned him on as well as the NFL Cheerleader he saw on his every visit, one of the many advantages of being a high roller. Other advantages included free rooms and tables appearing from nowhere in a full booked restaurant. As long as the risks were in his favor it was fine to keep on doing what he did so well. But within the ranks were colleagues that treated card counting as a career, which spelt trouble.
To some extent the last third of the story reads more like a mystery thriller which is great but unfortunately Monsieur Poirot was not on hand to solve the crimes. Shame. But you can draw you're own conclusions quite easily. The next time I step into a casino I will be looking for those hand and verbal signals that maketh a card counter and I shall grin with great joy. If only it were that easy.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read, but don't copy the plans... 29 Aug 2003
By Paul Robinson VINE VOICE
This is the most bizzare blackjack book I've ever read. There is enough information in it to pick up the absolute bare minimum basics to count cards, but as a biogrpahy, it reads like a novel.
The story is discussed elsewhere. The author who took up Kevin Lewis' words and put them onto the page previously only worked on works of fiction, and you can feel his desire for high drama. To be honest, I've read a lot of gambling books and this was only the second I've ever read where I literally didn't want to put it down. That sounds cliched, but I literally stayed up until 5am reading this book and missed a morning of work.
This is not really a gambling book though. The point is, as the book comes to a close, it becomes evident that the pit bosses now are able to spot team play. It's a dangerous game to play, and in the UK it can be dealt with in all sorts of horrible ways. The tells and signals of team plays are now obvious to the dealers and bosses and preventative measures have been taken to try and wrap this up. Do not buy this book if you think you and your friends are going to be able to try it out and make some money. If you want to make money, use this book as a guide to what has already been done and would now fail.
If you want a cracking read, and trust me this is less patronising and more realistic than most novels you could find, this is a great little book. It shows that Vegas is addictive, nasty and driven on greed. It shows how a clever young man can see his life suddenly shift away from him, out of control. It allows you for just a few minutes, to dream about being a player. Just don't think, even though this is a true story, any of it's real - that's what Vegas is all about.
5 stars, for me a must read, the New York Bestsellers list can't be wrong. Go for it.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exciting story 24 Feb 2006
By MrShev
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the story of how a bunch of M.I.T. Students developed a system that enabled them to play blackjack and win, and win big. The story is told, ostensibly, from the point of view of Kevin - one of the big players - and occasionally from other viewpoints. It charts their story, how they did it, where they did it and what they did with the money.

This is an illuminating book which highlights a flaw in the system (which I guess is not there anymore!)which these students exploit. It is exciting and it does give all of us a glimpse into the highlife of big-league American gambling, who inhabits this world and what they get up to. It is difficult not to have a certain amount of sympathy for them as casinos are built with the prime purpose of fleecing punters but I did detect a certain amount of arrogance that I think was their Achilees Heel.

I gave this four stars because it is a great story, simply told. The book is like Vegas: exciting and worth visiting but if you scratch the surface you find it is essentially shallow. Good book for a plane, or if you are visiting Vegas, but nothing more than that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vegas, here I come 22 July 2003
Now i'm not usually a gambling man, but I bet you'll like this little read. Although the book will never be a literary classic, the story definitely should become legendary. I lost a well-needed night's sleep last week due to the fact that I picked this book up to read it at midnight and was prevented from putting it down until I had finished it, by which time it was shower-and-shave o'clock.
The story would still be good even if it was fiction, however knowing that it actually happened makes me wanna dust off my silk shirt, jump in my pontiac and point it in the direction of Vegas!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Seems easy enough
Intriguing read. Definitely makes me want to hit Vegas again, although it's instilled a false sense of advantage that's sure to be my downfall if not careful...
Published 17 days ago by Simon Rutherford
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic story
Amazing book with and evening mor amazing story. Would thoroughly recommend to anyone even those who have little interest in the subject.
Published 2 months ago by David
5.0 out of 5 stars Bringing the house down
Very interesting, very clever young people. Gave some interesting facts about the laws. I would recommend this book very good read.
Published 5 months ago by Pat Quirk
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Quality And Great Value for Money
Love books on gambling - this book is very easy to read and in excellent condition and once you start reading you will not want to put is down -quick delivery and good value for... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Martin Graham
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Great insight into the world of counting cards. I found this very interesting, well written and in perspective. I recommend this.
Published 9 months ago by Paul Gabb
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
Writing this only cause its needed... a bit stupid isnt it? you could just rate... It's a far more objective metric
Published 14 months ago by Tiago Freitas
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read
I didn't really have time to read this at all when I bought it.. I kind of wanted to read this book slowly but I couldn't stop once I started. Read more
Published 17 months ago by Mr Simple
4.0 out of 5 stars Recommended to me...
.... as an interesting chuckle. Ben Mezrich does seem to know how engage quickly and keep the reader interested until the final pages. Read more
Published 17 months ago by WorthAread
4.0 out of 5 stars Saw the Film? Read the book!
Saw the (great) film 21, so Amazoned the book to read the source. Enjoyable read and very different from the film - other characters, actions. Fascinating and TRUE. Recommended.
Published 18 months ago by Gold
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This book for the kindle was just awesome and really made the film come alive, the characters and also the way it was told just a great read. loved it.
Published 19 months ago by karl j o
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