Busting Vegas
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Busting Vegas

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3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  1,747 ratings  ·  137 reviews
He played in casinos around the world with a plan to make himself richer than anyone could possibly imagine -- but it would nearly cost him his life.

Semyon Dukach was known as the Darling of Las Vegas. A legend at age twenty-one, this cocky hotshot was the biggest high roller to appear in Sin City in decades, a mathematical genius with a system the casinos had never seen b...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published September 27th 2005)
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Rebeca
Just WOW is the writing bad. The dialogue sounds like a a desperate attempt to be cool from someone who has never met anyone cool except in movies form the 1940's. I kept getting into it and then having to put it down to wrap my head around the awful phrasing. Also, the man cannot write about a woman to save his life- they're all one dimensional literary devices for sexual conflict, never mind that they're brilliant MIT students. Also, he writes himself in the book! So distracting. And he writes...more
Fuzzy Gerdes
The first book of Ben Mezrich's that I've read, Bringing Down the House, was about a group of MIT students who used a group blackjack technique to make a lot of money until casinos began to figure out their system and brought heat down on them. This new book, Busting Vegas, is about a group of MIT students who used a group blackjack technique to make a lot of money until casinos began to figure out their system and brought heat down on them. Seriously. A chapter in I had to double-check to ma...more
Michael Wheatley
The one I read didn't have that cover, I promise.
Jeph
Many of Ben Mezrich's books have been made into movies. After reading Busting Vegas, it's easy to see why. Mezrich writes non-fiction in a fictional, personal style that puts you inside the minds of the characters. Busting Vegas tells the story of Seymion Dukach and a band of MIT number crunchers who form a winning team at doing more than just card counting, but create a revolutionary formula for beating the blackjack tables and at times, avoiding unwanted and hostile attention from Vegas securi...more
Michelle
I'm an MIT grad, so I love nothing more than a good story about MIT kids winning big. Unfortunately, that's where my interest ended. I couldn't agree more with previous reviewers who bemoaned the horrifically bad writing, especially when it comes to the female characters. Yes, the main character is a college-aged young man, so it might not be unrealistic for him to be preoccupied with women's breasts. But phrases like "her perfectly round breasts, her hard nipples"? Seriously? That sounds like s...more
Steven Salaita
My brother, a skilled gambler, gave me this book to keep me entertained one day when I was bored at his house. (DC doesn't do it for me; I prefer the ennui of Appalachia, where the boredom is so absolute it becomes interesting.) Anyway, it's really a terrible book: overwritten, embellished, nostalgic. But it's definitely entertaining, despite the fact that it's obviously a bit fanciful. Or perhaps that's why it's entertaining. Sometimes exaggerating and lying are the most decent things a nonfict...more
Jeff
Busting Vega$ doesn't ring true. Falls short as a straight up bio, with obvious embellishments and revisionist fantasy sequences attempting to spice things up. Clearly a skewed point of view, written to appease Semyon Dukach, who apparently was the only one willing to spill the story. And the books claim that they brought Vegas to it's knees without card counting or cheating, is quickly proven false. All three of the groups "sequences" involve some method of counting cards, and illegally peaking...more
Eddy Allen
cc:

He played in casinos around the world with a plan to make himself richer than anyone could possibly imagine -- but it would nearly cost him his life.

Semyon Dukach was known as the Darling of Las Vegas. A legend at age twenty-one, this cocky hotshot was the biggest high roller to appear in Sin City in decades, a mathematical genius with a system the casinos had never seen before and couldn't stop -- a system that has never been revealed until now; that has nothing to do with card counting, was...more
Jason Kurtz
As with most non-fiction books I read, I listened to this one on audio. I use this book in my English class, as a Lit Circle novel, and I was very pleased to have the opportunity to finally listen to it. I can genuinely recommend this book to young adult readers, as it is gritty, easy to follow, and fast-paced.

Busting Vegas is a great read that follows the experiences of a team of black jack players that develop a system to win big at the casinos around the world. Though I don't believe they act...more
Blake
It started as just an after school club, where students who were mathematically inclined, got together and counted cards. Semyon never thought much of it, until his coach, began bringing the team to Vegas.

The story begins with Semyon doing work on computers for other students to make money. He found a flyer asking, "Do You Want To Make Money?" Semyon took advantage of this, and signed up right away.

In Vegas, Semyon and the other card counters, take Vegas for thousands upon thousands of dollars....more
Steven Scaffardi
I thoroughly enjoyed this book! This has surely got to be up there as one of every blokes dream - bleeding Las Vegas dry of its cash, women, and parties! Granted, the excessive threats of violence and beat-downs from the local bad lads is not something that makes an appearance in that dream, but what a ride nevertheless!

In typical Mezrich fashion, he's tweaked the truth a little to make it a little more Hollywood. After all, how excited would you really get about a maths geek showing off his num...more
Brian
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Man Ching
Read as ebook. The problem with this book is that it reads like an advertisement for a blackjack system. The kids (MIT students) didn't get very far; they hit casinos a few times and since they apparently won $100k at a time, casinos noticed. There was one man (Galen) who is/was a security consultant for casinos who took a special interest in them. He seemed instrumental in blowing their cover.

The strange thing about these students is that they continued with their schtick as they were kicked ou...more
Joe
Having only been in a casino twice in my life, I never had a dream of "bringing down the house." For me, it was two nights of cheap entertainment. Two nights that I won money, but certainly didn't break the house.

But there are those who believe that they have a definite way of beating vegas and making millions, only to lose their money.

This book is the true tale of what happens when a small group of MIT students practice and perfect a method to actually beat the biggest casinos in the world....more
Dale
Sixth book I read during my new commute. I love vacationing in Vegas and I enjoy playing blackjack quite a bit, so any book hitting on those subjects will probably entertain me. This one was no exception. I had already read Ben Mezrich's previous book on Vegas, blackjack and beating the casinos: Bringing Down the House, and thought it was a four-star book. This semi-sequel gets only three from me, for two reasons. One, they cover a lot of similar ground, so what was fresh and interesting in the...more
Robert Stilwell
I liked the book quite a bit. It was interesting and kept my attention which many books cant do. It made me want to keep reading, it showed determination and friendships bond between a group of kids. I liked Semyon the most out of the group of kids, he showed the most determination and handled situations great! Busting Vegas forshadowed that they were gonna handle cards and it happend, but they sort of counted cards but with a more intelligent way. The book had wonderful imagery, in many cases i...more
Stephen Redwood
A bunch of smart MIT guys devise a cunning way to improve their odds in blackjack, creating the illusion that they can live the dream, make a fortune and live happily ever after. Unfortunately, human nature has its own plans and our heroes turn out to be not so smart in dealing with the people end of things and get themselves into some tricky and life threatening situations. One of them finally transmogrifies his greed into a good cause - bringing down casinos that always ensure the odds are sta...more
Derek
You will gain a new respect for MIT students after reading this book. I felt dwarfed by the mental abilities of these students. It will make you consider a career as a card counter (don't do it). The love story aspect of the book is the weakest part of the book. I really didn't care about that part. The story is driven by the "excess, sex, violence, and beating the odds." There are times that you really question whether or not some of these things actually happened or are even possible. Not to b...more
Greg
This just wasn't as interesting to me as the first one. It read like fiction but in an almost unbelievable way. While the techniques were interesting and raised a lot of questions about how the casinos would handle it when they learned about it, these questions were never answered and the techniques were presented in such a straightforward way. Honestly, it just felt like a cheap, trashy fiction read (not that there's anything wrong with that but it wasn't what I was expecting). I also didn't ca...more
Jennifer
Apr 09, 2008 Jennifer marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I'm removing this from my to-read list as I've recently learned much of it is fabricated. (http://gawker.com/5005250/shameless-p...)

All these fictionalized memoirs irritate me; I'd rather read a novel about the same subject...

On another note, the Jefferson bio's going well. I never knew much about Patrick Henry but he definitely seems like a revolutionary rock star. Everyone knows his famous quote, "Give me liberty or give me death" but when it is placed into the context of his speech and the mo...more
Patty Marvel
I'm not sure what the difference is between this book and Mezrich's "Bringing Down the House" ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bringing... ) as they both focus on MIT students who use probability and memorization to win at Vegas card games. Judging by the Wikipedia entry for "Bringing," I'm not sure how much of "Busting" I should believe. Even if the story was completely made up, it's a fun read, seeing nerds trying to pay for college playing make-believe (every member of the blackjack "team" had...more
Chris
I checked this out from the library because I saw the trailer for a new movie coming out that is somewhat based on it (21 is the title). I figured I've enjoyed this sort of story in the past, so I'd give it a try.

This book is alright. Not great, but not bad either. The core story is pretty good, but I found the author's technique of inserting himself into the story (he devotes chapters to his "interviews" - which I am finding is a hallmark of his books) a bit pretentious and obnoxious.

Still and...more
Frederick Bingham
This is the story of Semyon Dukach. He was a student at MIT who got hooked up with another guy who had a system for beating casinos at blackjack. They recruited a group of MIT students to go to casinos and gamble and ended up winning millions. Needless to say, the casinos did not appreciate their winnings. They found themselves locked up in small rooms, beaten, interrogated, robbed, tracked by private investigators and generally mistreated. The system they devised was not cheating. It relied on...more
David
Pro: The story is great. A group of MIT students successfully implement a series of techniques for winning at blackjack and then must deal with the angry underbelly of the casino universe.

Con: The writing is bad and (worse) misleading. This book masquerades as nonfiction, but the narrative is comprised of recreated scenes and (especially) conversations that the writer cannot have any way of accurately reproducing.

Bottom line: Your time would be more efficiently spent if you read the Wikipedia...more
Tom Gase
This book was okay but I felt it wasn't any different at all from Bringing Down the House, which I read a few years back and loved. The dialogue isn't that great and while I found some chapters interesting I just couldn't help but find myself thinking, "I already read this book. This is basically the exact same book as Bringing Down the House." Kind of predictable as well. Maybe if you haven't read Bringing Down the House you'll like this more.
Jen
I picked this up at an airport book store, intrigued because it sounded like something "different" than my usual repertoire. I was not disappointed. This quick and compelling read tells the story of a group of MIT students who find a mathematical formula for beating the odds at blackjack. What they didn't consider, however, was that the casinos across the world would be less-than-excited by their high-risk ventures. Although I am not a gambler, I did find this fascinating! (What happens in Vegas...more
Joshua Woodbury
The story of a group of MIT students who win big playing blackjack, not by counting cards, but by using techniques never seen before in Vegas which increase the odds of winning. The only problem for the students is that casinos to not take kindly to gamblers taking huge sums of their money. The author suggests that the techniques used by the students could lead to changes in how casinos manage blackjack. I am interested to know if casinos have had to make changes.
Judi
I found this book to be really wordy. I finished it, but I scanned/skipped my way through a large portion of it.
Jd Hood
Good read about smart "kids" who should have known better. The factual story is both intriguing in execution and in how the MIT students pulled off the scam. Ironically, it is amazing that they took such a risk knowing that they weren't the only ones willing the break the established rules.

I wouldn't say this is a must read, but if you like non-fiction and enjoy behind the scene's details--this book is definitely for you.
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Ben Mezrich has created his own highly addictive genre of nonfiction, chronicling the amazing stories of young geniuses making tons of money on the edge of impossibility, ethics, and morality.

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