Roy's Reviews > Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions

Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich
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's review
Jun 10, 2010

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Recommended for: gamblers, college students
Read in June, 2010 , read count: 1

Nerds IV: Nerds take down Sin City.

One of the tantalizing aspects of this story is that it tells of smart engineering / math majors living like high rollers; Boston partying in Las Vegas. Kevin, and the rest of the M. I. T. blackjack team live double lives as weekend gambling gods. This would be considered escapist fantasy if it were not non-fiction. The events in this book are clear and engaging, and tell a tale worth remembering. Mezrich follows his main character, Kevin into the world of card counting, gambling and casinos. This is a story about card counting, not a tutorial.

Early on, Mezrich makes it clear that normally he writes fiction. He seemed to be apologizing for not knowing what to do with his source material. Many of his descriptions are a little cartoon-ish, as every waitress is a knock-out and all of the side characters that fill the tables are stock characters. The blackjack team and the other people he interviews are well fleshed out, but any personalities and situations that he must recreate struck me as a little two-dimensional.

Also, I am not a fan of the "Present Day" chapters where the writer enters the story in first person. These seemed to me like a DVD extra; unresolved pieces that didn't really fit into the whole but were good back story. This sort of shift in narrative style could make for a good epilogue, but not interspersed throughout the book. I can imagine that he originally thought that these pieces would be a larger part of the story, maybe even ever-other chapter, but they serve as distractions that pull the reader out of the time of the important events.

Overall it is a pretty good book about a great, almost improbably story.

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