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Busting Vegas: A True Story of Monumental Excess, Sex, Love, Violence, and Beating the Odds

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3.74  ·  Rating details ·  2,680 ratings  ·  179 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
304 pages
Published August 22nd 2006 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published September 27th 2005)
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Eric_W
May 30, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: miscellaneous
The book opens with a girls’ lineup in a Nevada brothel. (That will get your attention.) He follows the chosen girl up to a room, 232, and there the girl leaves and he meets up with the Russian MIT student who had used a technique that would take millions from the casinos. It was the safest place to meet.

Forget counting cards that only increases your advantage slightly, this team, led by Victor (of whom we really learn very little), another MIT student, this team developed several strategies tha
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Fuzzy Gerdes
Nov 19, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Rebeca
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Michelle
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Ethan Dennis
Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Busting Vegas is one of the best true story's I have ever read it almost doesn't seem real. The best part is how they found an actual system to beat blackjack, and the amount of money they took from the casinos almost seemed like theft. After I read the book I wanted to go to Vegas, but... I'm way too young to gamble so that was a bit of a downside. This book taught me about the casinos run and the consequences if you get caught trying to take the casinos money.




READ IT!!!!!!!!!!!
Michael Wheatley
The one I read didn't have that cover, I promise.
Jeff
Jun 30, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Jeph
Mar 28, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Greg
Aug 29, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Cindy
Sep 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book about a bunch of MIT students under the leadership of Victor who use a variety of techniques to give themselves an edge over the house. It relies on teamwork, a knowledge of dealer's shuffling techniques, and the ability to cut to a precise point in the deck. It was interesting and the casinos definitely did not like these folks darkening their doors. My only criticism is that the action shuffles back and forth between the MIT players and the author's background interviews and i ...more
Federico Castillo
Nov 27, 2018 rated it liked it
They took a real life story and give hire a gun to write it down. The writing is functional, to say something, but the whole story and characters never come alive. Besides, I doubt the veracity of it all. The MIT stereotypes are briefly there with a poor effort to write any human character. Some personality traits are thrown here and there for no purpose at all. In short, the storytelling sucks.
Besides, on the veracity side, it is too perfectly arranged with escalating difficulty and absurdity f
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Onionboy
Nov 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a fun read that was fast paced and really kept my interest. His style of writing felt like a movie script: jump into an active scene, get to the point, and get out, without getting bogged down in detail like a book would typically do. That style fit the story.

I was disappointed to find it wasn’t entirely true, but many characters and scenes were composites of real people and events. It made for a better story, but I am constantly disappointed to find that the “based on a true story” boo
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Kevin Johnson
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-shout
Very entertaining book. Not at all your typical "card counting"tale. An interesting exposé on the casino industry and what some MIT whiz kids were able to do to beat the "house advantage". Likable characters and a well paced story.
Kelly Woznik
Apr 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was very interesting
Luke Mercer
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was ok
Good story, but I thought the character flip was hard to follow and the end was jarring and sudden
Pablo
Dec 22, 2016 rated it really liked it
Fantastic book , I was glued to it and it was so hard to put it down every night.
Gareth Otton
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Busting Vegas is the interesting true life story of a group of MIT students who developed a Black Jack system that allowed them to 'Bust Vegas'. Not only is it an interesting tale, but it is told in such a way that it actually reads like fiction, which has both pros and cons.

One of the main problems with non-fiction book is that it can at times get a little tedious and hard to read. A fiction narrative is usually much more engaging and easier to follow. Writing a non-fiction book to read like f
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Tara
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
Busting Vegas is the most recent authentic Vegas suspense story that reads like fiction but is actually the true story of a card dynamo: Semyon Dukach and a small team of brilliant math geniuses. Dukach is an MIT student that stumbles upon a random posting on his school bulletin board. Dukach is sparked with an interest seeing as he is a math major and also had interest as far back as his preteen days reading a book about card counting ( written by a veteran of the business that was mentioned at ...more
Brian
Sep 23, 2008 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jason Kurtz
Dec 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
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
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Marcelo Sanchez
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Este es uno de esos libros que les gusta crear increíbles expectativas. Partiendo por el título. Las cantidades de exceso, sexo, amor y violencia están muy lejos de ser monumentales. De hecho diría que son con suerte perceptibles.
El escritor se pone a si mismo como un personaje que investiga la historia, el único rol de esta acción es crear más expectativa. Lo cual solo sirve para subestimar los eventos que pasan.
También se equivoca en concentrase en Las Vegas siendo que la historia se da vuelta
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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
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Blake
Dec 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Eddy Allen
Mar 28, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Malin Friess
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
4 stars. A sequel to Bringing Down the House about the MIT kids who come up with a system to win over a million dollars in Vegas. This team of 4 MIT students are brilliant and come up with three systems which they say are legal (not card counting--waiting for when a deck becomes hot--laced with mostly 10's and then signaling for a friend to come play to increase their odds)--no they learn to catch a glimpse of bottom card when a dealer with small hands is shuffling--they keep track of that card ...more
Joe
Dec 02, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Steven Scaffardi
Aug 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Dale
Aug 31, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Doreen
Oct 18, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Wait, so this is the second book he wrote about MIT students who figured out how to scam casinos?

Anyway, the story itself is compelling enough, but the writing is violently purple. The best description I've encountered of his writing style is "non-fiction pulp": tolerable enough for a book, I guess, and much improved by the time The Accidental Billionaires, the only other book I've read of his, is published 4 years later. And while I enjoyed Semyon's story (and found the techniques they discusse
...more
Tommy
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Busting Vegas by Ben Mezrich and Semyon Dukach is a book about 3 genius graduates of MIT that go around the world gambling at every casino around the world, that almost gets them killed. I enjoyed it very much because what they did wasn't illegal. It wasn't counting cards, and it was completely unstoppable. Their plan was to get themselves filthy rich, richer than any other man in the world, but this almost costs them there lives. They are commonly known as the MIT blackjack team. This new metho ...more
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Goodreads Librari...: Please update details 3 13 Mar 14, 2016 07:53AM  
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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.

With his newest non-fiction book, Once Upon a Time in Russia, Mezrich tells his most incredible story yet: A true drama of obscene wealth, crime, rivalry, and betrayal from deep inside the world of billionair
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