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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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3.89  ·  Rating details ·  22,267 ratings  ·  1,856 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.

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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  22,267 ratings  ·  1,856 reviews


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Start your review of Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions
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
Dec 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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.
✩ Ashley ✩
Thanks to an old photograph of me on the beach, I found out I read this?! I wonder how many books I actually read before joining Goodreads?!?! No one will ever know 😱
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 (Read Eat Sleep Repeat)
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
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
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.
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
Pei 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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
Jyothi N
Dec 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sometimes, the fact that a book is based on something that actually happened adds a bit more value to my read. May be because the twists and turns were not made up? This is a book that is based on the actual stories of the MIT blackjack team. The book moves back and forth between the events of the MIT team and the author's present day research. It deals you the behind the scenes reality of all the glitz and glamour of the Vegas nightlife. If you've seen the movie, the book is almost nothing like ...more
Michael
Aug 08, 2009 rated it liked it
The book is well written, but what is irritating is that it holds itself out as a non-fiction, but after reading about the book online, it appears the book is far more fiction then non-fiction. The person that the book is centered around has apparently admitted several key scenes from the book didn't happen, and that many other scenes were similarly fabricated. Also, because many of the people in the book are composites of two or more people, it makes me wonder what, if anything, from the book i ...more
Ben
Aug 19, 2013 rated it it was ok
After learning that a business associate and expert witness was one of the actual gambling team from MIT that inspired this book and the movie 21, I was eager to read the inside account. Turns out, as others have pointed out, the story has been fictionalized and embellished. My colleague appears nowhere in the book (unless he was one of the three "nameless Asians" that Ben Mezrich dismisses in a sentence). Fair enough, the author wants a sexier story than a group of Asian statisticians might off ...more
Quinn Lavender
I guess the main thing I liked about this book was the Cinderella-like story of a bunch of college kids making beaucoup bucks off the casinos - more or less legally. The story doesn't really build to any kind of climatic ending, though, and the author's interludes - especially the one where he interviews a stripper while she gives him a lap dance - seem almost like "filler" material. Still, the story of how these groups organized and their tactics for winning are pretty amazing and worth the rea ...more
Holly Cline
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has reaffirmed how not into gambling I am. I've never been to Vegas, but I get nervous playing penny slots in Atlantic City so the whole world just freaks me out. But this story is so incredible. So seemingly impossible. And yet believable. These kids are smarter than me, and they're bolder than me. This book is worth reading, and it will make you see the world of Vegas in a whole new way.
Jessica
Mar 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is a really simple read, but good when you're looking for something quick (like a 2 hour plane ride). It kept me interested(except the parts where they talk about card counting strategy) and I didn't really want it to end.

It might not have been as good if it wasn't the first book I read in months, but it sure did serve it's purpose!
Ben Klicker
May 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
In my opinion Bringing down the house was an amazing action-packed book with very few dull moments. The book revolves around the main character, Kevin, and his adventures on the M.I.T blackjack team. One GoodReads user said "It couldn't keep me interested which is why it took me a month to read it off and on. The last 50 pages went a little faster. Just shows genius doesn't necessarily come with good judgement." attached to a two star review. I disagree with the statement that the book is boring ...more
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