Ensiform'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
Feb 06, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: non-fiction, gaming
Read in February, 2005

The story of Kevin Lewis and some other MIT kids of Asian descent, who were hand-picked by a former MIT prof to count cards in Vegas. Backed by “shady investors” that they supposedly never met, the team used a decades-old method of card counting (a modified version of “hi-lo,” based on the number of high cards left in the deck) and some interesting hand signals to collectively rake in the millions.

This is Mezrich’s first non-fiction book, and it shows; oh does it ever show. There is a small “details have been changed” notice under the copyright info, but this does not justify Mezrich’s copious use of detail and conversation that could not possibly be known to him, let alone accurately reported. It’s no great sin to use created conversation to capture the feel of a true event, but it’s disingenuous of the author not to at least acknowledge what he’s done. And while I don’t want to call him or Lewis a liar, the tacked-on drama (beatings in the bathroom of an off-shore casino; a break-in; a solitary poker chip left ominously on Lewis’ table) seem a bit too much ripped from just the style of thriller that Mezrich is apparently accustomed to writing. In sum, there might be an interesting story here, but this book, while admittedly fun to read, with its flat drama and unsympathetic characters (aw, poor Kevin, making a great living at a trading firm, trying to “get out” of the humdrum existence of the MIT grad with the house and two cars... boo hoo, guy) isn’t great.
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03/17/2016 marked as: read

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