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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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3.90  ·  Rating details ·  23,104 ratings  ·  1,907 reviews
An exclusive blackjack club came up with a system to take the worldUs most sophisticated casinos for all they were worth. In two years, this ring of card savants earned more than three million dollars. Filled with tense action and incredibly close calls, this is a real-life adventure that could have stepped straight out of a Hollywood film.
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 17th 2002 by Free Press
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Lauren Collins A 16 year old?? That's honestly an adult in my world. I would let my 16 year old read anything.…moreA 16 year old?? That's honestly an adult in my world. I would let my 16 year old read anything.(less)

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 ·  23,104 ratings  ·  1,907 reviews


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Crumb
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
I love books about casinos! There really aren't enough of them. Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions follows six M.I.T. students who form a blackjack card-counting team. There were so many interesting nuggets of information throughout this gem. If I hadn't know that this was non-fiction prior to having read it, I would have thought that this was a literary thriller.

Did you know card-counting is not cheating? Apparently, it isn't. If you don
...more
Petra X back to reality & the diet!
Casinos deserve whatever anyone can get from them. Card-counting is using your noodle, it is by no means a criminal activity, yet the casinos which say that gambling is a good sport we should all enjoy, don't act like good sports when others are enjoying winning (regularly). Nope, they then act like very bad sports indeed by getting these winners banned from each and every casino in the world.

Gambling in general and casinos in particular were very much in the grip of the Mafia until times not so
...more
Brina
Jun 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Book of the month Nonfiction Book Club 2020

As the summer heats up, I find myself wanting to read about tropical locales, westerns, and escapist fiction. For the July book of the month at the nonfiction book club, one of our choices fits this description. Las Vegas- glitz, glamour, and the house always wins, that is until it does not. In his book that later became a major motion picture, Ben Mezrich reveals how a group of math whizzes from MIT learned how to beat the Vegas system and came away wi
...more
Diane S ☔
Jul 26, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nfr-2020
I've played blackjack, made petty cash money this way. Not, howeve,r in a casino and never knew how to count cards. Can see the allure for students, vast sums of money, cash to throw around, but never would I have had the cool these young people did. I would have been a quivering mass of jelly, would have been seen through in a minute. Going through airports with large sums it money, through security, no way! Of course this couldn't happen now, security has gotten much tighter. Also, didn't expe ...more
Edgarr Alien Pooh
Bringing Down the House is the basis for the movie 21 starring Kevin Spacey. It is the true story of a group of young M.I.T students who are brought together for their special gifts - mathematical intelligence. These students are instructed by an ex-teacher of the school in the art of card counting. Not the simple art of card counting where one knows which cards should be left in a single deck but the ART of card counting where one can make accurate assumptions of which cards are left in a black ...more
Jonathan Ashleigh
Nov 10, 2014 rated it liked it
The pace of this book was off at certain times and the characters were not believable most of the time, even though it was supposedly a true story. If you delve past the surface, you will find out that it is not actually a true story all of the time. The story about testing students at a mob-style poker game is entirely made up and unfortunately this is the best part of the first section in the book, while also being unimaginable. The relationships seemed the same and I imagine that the main cha ...more
Greg
Apparently this book is bullshit. Oh well. I was the sucker who shut off my critical tools when reading it and swallowed this hook-line-and-sinker. I should have known something was wrong when the geography of the Strip was fucked up in his mini-history of the rise of the mega-casinos. He placed Excalibur halfway down the Strip from Luxor (or was it MGM Grand), which is all wrong, they are right across the street from one another (which works out for either Luxor or MGM in relation to Excalibur) ...more
Brian
Jan 23, 2008 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
John Jones
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Toby
May 04, 2008 rated it did not like it
"Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions" by Ben Mezrich is a nonfiction work that takes a look at a group of MIT graduates and dropouts who develop and perfect a card counting system, which they use to great effect. Specifically, the book concerns Kevin Miller, who is apparently Asian despite the inventive pseudonym, and his involvement with the team of MIT card counters.

As I read this book, I kept flipping back to the frontispiece and wonder
...more
Nicole Chinnici
Jul 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bringing Down the House is an interesting and entertaining account of a group of students who came up with a system to win blackjack, and they won BIG. The conversational style of writing made for an easy and fast paced read. I do wonder if some parts were dramatized and have seen some buzz to support that. I suppose only a few people actually know the answer to that, and regardless of whether it’s completely factual or not, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.

After finishing the book I decided to r
...more
Kacper
Oct 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Bringing Down the House is an action packed book with many scenes that keep the reader wanting more. Although it wasn't as good as I thought it would be, it was still a good read. Some readers thought that immoderate use of cursing kind of brought the book to a lower level. I disagree with this. I believe that this kind of language helped show some of the characters' emotions during rough and troubling times. Although, at some moments it was not needed, the use of this language did not make a b ...more
Brian Hodges
May 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
Let me say this first: read the book. SCREW THE MOVIE!

I picked up this book because the trailers for the movie "21" (based on the book) intrigued me. I'm no speed reader but i finished this thing in two reading sessions less than 24 hours after getting it from the library. It's the TRUE story (as the title indicates) of a bunch of MIT students, brilliant with numbers, who work out a sophisticated card-counting scheme that they use to win millions of dollars from various casinos over the course o
...more
mistyprose
Apr 26, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
As the book that the film "21" was based on, it was pretty insightful to read a lot of the explanations that were omitted in the film (due to obvious time constraints). It's a great real-life story (or as real as the book claims to be), but the writing style, pacing, and narration turned me off a little. The writing style made it hard to follow the story, especially with the switching back and forth (which would have worked well had it been executed deftly), and the narrator's voice gave off an ...more
Rachel
Aug 11, 2008 marked it as abandoned
Recommended to Rachel by: 21 movie credits
When he saw that I'd earmarked this book as one I'd like to read, my friend John offered to lend me his copy. It turned out, however, that he only owns a different book by the same author. That book, Busting Vegas, is the inside story of five MIT students who took Vegas for millions (although the long-winded official subtitle for that one bills it as "A True Story of Monumental Excess, Sex, Love, Violence, and Beating the Odds.").

My interest in the subject (blackjack) and author was initially p
...more
Tracy
Jul 06, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, own-it
This bood reads like a suspense novel- an easy read, that I finished in one sitting. I have to admit, I was riveted, although the writing itself leaves something to be desired.
My husband's aunt used to be a dealer in Atlantic City so I've heard a lot of stories from her, but this book really opened my eyes to the gambling industry. The book made me NOT want to gamble and pretty much squelched what miniscule desire I had to visit Vegas anyway.
I could see how easily one could get caught up in th
...more
Cynda
Aug 10, 2020 rated it liked it
I have long wewondered how the MIT students set up their game and how they got caught. This book answers my questions to my satisfaction. And shock enough to be entertained better and better with each chapter.
BarbaraW
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Real page turner. Thought they were gonna get nailed but they beat the system although had a few dust ups. Wonderful description of Vegas and other casino sites. Worth your time.
Ann T
I listened to an audio version and was so engrossed in the story that I finished all but the last CD in one day. It was so interested to read and I am still trying to figure out how they did it. Guess that is why I am not an MIT graduate. This book certainly claims the truth the money can change you. I guess there is also a movie. I plan to watch it soon.
Irene
Jul 04, 2020 rated it liked it
As the subtitle to this book indicates, this is the story of a group of math wizzes, most associated with MIT, who use the science of probability to win millions at Black Jack. It was an easy read that kept my attention. 3.5 stars
Ensiform
Feb 06, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, gaming
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 “det
...more
Madeline
Dec 30, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: nobody
Recommended to Madeline by: nobody
i didn't hate it. but it was definitely nothing special.

here's some examples of the ridiculous writing:

"Vegas was a juicy oyster, and Kevin was going to suck the motherfucker dry"

"He leaned back, kicked his feet up onto the table -- right on the goddamn felt -- and waited for them to pay him off. He knew he looked like the most arrogant prick in the world, but he didn't care. Hubris had no place in a card counter's vocabulary. Barry Chow was king of the goddamn paddleboat."

"He closed his eyes,
...more
Erin
I always enjoy watching the movie that this book is based off, and after my most recent viewing I decided to read the book.

What I didn’t know at the time of many of my viewings of the film is that it’s a true story. A bunch of MIT geeks used maths to beat the system. It’s a bit wow! Was it specifically a crime? No. Was it maybe in the grey area of morality? Sure. Is anyone crying for the poor casinos? Hell no.

This book was a lot of fun to read, and incredibly interesting to hear of the techniqu
...more
Pei
Interesting story, pedestrian writing. The author doesn't engage any potential themes, just seems content telling the story in a faux-suspenseful, overly sentimental way, and is self-indulgent in including himself in the narrative. It reads like a halfway decent high school report. Nonfiction can be much more skillfully done than this. ...more
Klare
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book, read whilst chilling by the pool on holiday and was a really enjoyable read.
Joanne
Sep 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
A very entertaining read about the escapades of a group of MIT students using their God-given gifts to take down the casino's in Vegas, and eventually elsewhere.

Ben Mezrich's writing is fast paced and puts you in the moment of the excitement of Vegas. Some GR's reviewers have indicated that pieces of the story are fabricated. I have no idea if that is fact, or just someone who has a grudge against the author, or key players in the book. It is apparent there are people out there who would have li
...more
Aristotle
One for bad, two for good

I'll bet one
This was an interesting story told in an uninteresting way with extra dull characters.
I liked the movie 21 and am a fan of blackjack but this was a snore.
...more
Suzanne
Apr 26, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really resent it when an author states that their work is one of nonfiction, when it isn't. Apparently Mezrich wrote this story based on his meetings with some members of the MIT Blackjack teams. "Bringing Down the House" is a fictional work inspired by real life events. The character's names have been changed and many of the individual characters Medrich writes about, are actually composites of several people. There are places described that don't exist (underground casino in Chinatown) and ...more
Nicole
Aug 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Have you ever read a book that was written so beautifully with so much action built into it that you wonder, “Did this really happen?”

It was something that I had pondered for the past few days. I held off on marking this book finished because I wanted to do my own research when it comes to novels like this. I certainly learned my lesson after The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien.

And it was exactly as I expected. While the theory behind this book was fascinating—the card counting, the secrecy
...more
K.D. Absolutely
I like the fact that this is really happened. That the protagonist name is really Jeffrey Ma and he agreed to surface 7 years after the book was originally published. The story is astonishing: imagine an MIT grad raking millions of pesos by card counting in Las Vegas. Talking about using one's brain to circumvent the old, old game of blackjack!

I saw the movie in a cheap DVD copy from St. Francis and I liked it. The book version is tamed which is expected because it is based on actual events whil
...more
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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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