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21: Bringing Down the House: How Six Students Took Vegas for Millions

21: Bringing Down the House: How Six Students Took Vegas for Millions [Kindle Edition]

Ben Mezrich
4.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (4 Kundenrezensionen)

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From Publishers Weekly

"Shy, geeky, amiable" MIT grad Kevin Lewis, was, Mezrich learns at a party, living a double life winning huge sums of cash in Las Vegas casinos. In 1993 when Lewis was 20 years old and feeling aimless, he was invited to join the MIT Blackjack Team, organized by a former math instructor, who said, "Blackjack is beatable." Expanding on the "hi-lo" card-counting techniques popularized by Edward Thorp in his 1962 book, Beat the Dealer, the MIT group's more advanced team strategies were legal, yet frowned upon by casinos. Backed by anonymous investors, team members checked into Vegas hotels under assumed names and, pretending not to know each other, communicated in the casinos with gestures and card-count code words. Taking advantage of the statistical nature of blackjack, the team raked in millions before casinos caught on and pursued them. In his first nonfiction foray, novelist Mezrich (Reaper, etc.), telling the tale primarily from Kevin's point of view, manages to milk that threat for a degree of suspense. But the tension is undercut by the first-draft feel of his pedestrian prose, alternating between irrelevant details and heightened melodrama. In a closing essay, Lewis details the intricacies of card counting.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

For the first third of his nonfiction debut, novelist Mezrich craps out. Ground lights viewed from an airplane aren't just pinpricks, or even little pinpricks, but "tiny little pinpricks." Las Vegas tourism facts are crammed onto the pages like seven decks in a six-deck shoe. But Mezrich finally hits the jackpot on page 79, when M.I.T. student Kevin Lewis steps onto the floor of the Mirage. The book stays on a roll as it describes how the young gambler and his card-counting cohorts employ simple math and complex disguises to win nearly $4 million at the blackjack tables. Bouncing from huge scores to frightening banishments, the M.I.T. team fights a winning battle against the law of averages--until they're forced to flee south like Butch and Sundance from the gaming industry's Joe LeFors. Although Mezrich's prose never rises above serviceable (and he pointlessly injects himself into the narrative at every turn), the story he tells will grip anyone who has ever hoped to break the bank at Monte Carlo. Frank Sennett
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


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4.0 von 5 Sternen
4.0 von 5 Sternen
Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen
12 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Dieses Buch liest sich wie ein Hollywood Filmscript. Es ist sicher gute Unterhaltung für jeden, der sich für das glamouröse Leben in Las Vegas interessiert. Es darf sich jedoch niemand erhoffen, wirkliche Informationen über das card-counting zu erhalten. Für jeden, der etwas von der Szene in Las Vegas versteht werden in diesem Buch viele Ungereimtheiten zu entdecken sein. Es wird an vielen Stellen offensichtlich übertrieben und man darf es nicht ernst nehmen.
Fazit: gute Unterhaltung, aber keinesfalls der Tatsachenbericht den das Buch darstellen soll!
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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Cooles Buch - anders als der Film 17. März 2012
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Liest sich in einem Rutsch durch, ist natürlich aber auch keine Weltliteratur. Keine Ahnung ob man alles glauben sollte, aber faszinierend ist es. Der Film ist aber schon ganz anders :-)
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Format:Kindle Edition|Verifizierter Kauf
Cooler stimmungs- und motivationsfilm nach einer wahren Begebenheit. Gefällt wem filme wie "The Social Network" gefallen. Macht Boch auf Black Jack
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Spannend und informativ 9. Januar 2013
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Auf einer Internetseite fand ich eine Liste mit den besten Blackjackbüchern.
Die meisten davon befanden sich schon in meinem Besitz.
"Bringing down the House" von Ben Mezrich wurde gut bewertet, also kaufte ich es kurzer Hand.
Die gebrauchte, aber gut erhaltene Taschenbuchversion in Originalsprache kostete bei einem Amazon-Händler gerade mal 1 Cent!
Bei dem Preis konnte man schon mal nicht viel verlieren.
Erst beim Lesen stellte ich fest, dass es sich um die Buchvorlage zum Blackjack-FIlm "21" handelte.
Das trübte ein wenig das Lesevergnügen, da ich die Story im Großen und Ganzen schon aus dem Film kannte.
Dennoch gibt es einige Abweichungen vom Film und für diejenigen, die den Film nicht kennen ist es eine sehr spannende Geschichte über das Leben als Blackjack-Profi.
Obwohl es sich hierbei um einen Roman und kein Sachbuch handelt, gelingt es dem Autor nebenbei auch noch besser als viele Sachbuchautoren die Regeln und Feinheiten von Blackjack zu erklären.
Es sind viele interessante und gut beschriebene Passagen darin, in denen man einen Einblick in das Kartenzählen bekommt.
Als Bonus befindet sich am Ende des Buches auch noch ein Aufsatz des Protagonisten indem er das Prinzip seines Erfolges erklärt.


Das Buch ist spannend und informativ zugleich.
Für die, die den Film "21" schon kennen, gibt es allerdings nicht viel Neues.
Für fortgeschrittene Blackjack-Spieler ist es allenfalls leichte Unterhaltung.
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 4.1 von 5 Sternen  498 Rezensionen
104 von 117 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Beating the odds and living a constant adrenaline high! 3. Mai 2003
Von Linda Linguvic - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This is a fast and explosive read. It's a true story that's so high-powered that the tension never ceases and I was thrust into a roller coaster ride that kept my eyes glued to the pages.
The story is told through the eyes of the author, who met one of the students at a party and was so intrigued by his outrageous tale that he was compelled to put it into a book. This is a story of a group of math whizzes, most of Asian descent, who used the art of card counting, worked as teams, and legally won as much as 4 million dollars during the few years they spent their weekends in the Vegas casinos, living the high life.
They strapped thousands of dollars to their bodies with Velcro to get the cash onto planes, used false names, and were always on the lookout for Las Vegas personnel who would sometimes personally escort them out of the casinos. They also learned about the seediness of the gambling world, greed, the way the Vegas corporations work. Of course they all went through changes. And eventually, it had to come to an end. Some of it is kind of scary too. But mostly, it's about beating the odds and living with a constant adrenaline high.
Well, reading this book is an adrenaline high of it's own. It put me right into the action and kept me there for the whole 257 pages. I loved it. And highly recommend it.
86 von 98 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Cardiac meds needed for Mezrich's thrilling ride 22. November 2002
Von "bsammons7" - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
As a physician I have my fill of non-fiction with an abundance of journals so when I read for relaxation I want a story that keeps me excited, interested and sleepless until it is finished. Bringing Down the House is such a book and reads like a Clancy or Pollock with a little lower body count, but with no less excitement.
Ben Mezrich is superb writer and story teller with the amazing ability to weave the excitement of a Las Vegas casino, the mathmetics of card counting with enjoyable interpersonal dynamics so that this is a consuming story with people you care about. His description of the high roller lifestyle in Vegas takes you to the tables playing sums you watch others wager with the adrenaline rush like you were part of the team. I bought the book in Boston having just missed him at a book signing and had a hardtime finishing the conference. I found myself in the room reading a book I could not put down instead of going out in one of the towns in which the story was set. It was that engrossing.
My Christmas list now contains all of his previous writings as this is an author who knows how to tell a story.
212 von 249 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
1.0 von 5 Sternen Pro Player Says This Book Busts 14. Februar 2004
Von Joshua Axelrad - Veröffentlicht auf
Format:Taschenbuch|Verifizierter Kauf
Author Ben Mezrich is on the streak of a lifetime, with his top-selling, wildly flawed, heavily fictionalized "history" of a well-known blackjack team getting made into a movie by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Pretty impressive. MGM, after all, as Mezrich notes in a recent interview, is "the same company that owns most of the large casinos in Vegas." (See the February, 2004 Kuro5hin interview at [...]) The only problem with this observation, like many of the major and minor details in Mezrich's book, is that it isn't true. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the movie company, and MGM Mirage, the casino company, are totally separate corporations, just as Mezrich's Las Vegas and the real Nevada town are totally different. Mezrich may be the only gambling writer in America who doesn't know these elementary facts.
For four years I've supported myself and my family by counting cards in American casinos and winning at blackjack. It is a tense, weird, exhilirating life, and I would love for more of my friends to understand it. This book doesn't help. Not only is the grade-school prose tedious. Not only are the technical blackjack details, on those few occasions when Mezrich summons the pluck to try tackling them, incorrect or misleading. The dramatic structure gropes and falls flat. The journalism is scandalously lazy and erroneous. Above all, the spirit, the eclat that card counters muster to wage our little war against casinoland is missing. Mezrich doesn't get it and can't report it. He hasn't been there and he doesn't know, his scanty experimental plays with MIT alums notwithstanding. If you want to know what gamblers are like and how we live, skip this drivel.
Look instead at legendary hustler Amarillo Slim's new memoir, Amarillo Slim in a World Full of Fat People. Look at Jesse May's insuperable poker novel, Shut Up and Deal, which more than any other book depicts the dark heart of the professional player. If it's blackjack history and the activities of the major teams you're into, read Ken Uston. If you want to understand the technical aspects of the game, get Don Schlesinger, Arnold Snyder, Peter Griffin, and, for old time's sake, Ed Thorpe. If you want to learn how a notorious high-stakes counter makes his way in the world, read Ian Andersen's Burning the Tables in Las Vegas. There's so much good gambling writing out there, with so much real-life experience underlying it, that wasting time and money on Mezrich is a sucker's bet.
47 von 52 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Overheated prose, engaging story...and a big mystery... 2. September 2004
Von Craig Kenneth Bryant - Veröffentlicht auf
...namely, how much of this tale to believe?

But first, the basics: "Kevin" joins a team of Blackjack players based out of MIT, and extracts some ungodly number of dollars from the casinos over the course of a five-year romp. Then the casinos wise up to the game, and start putting the squeeze on Kevin and his buddies: expulsions, IRS audits, intimidation, and a little rough stuff in back rooms.

Ben Mezrich is a thriller-writer by day, and the prose is a bit too ripely melodramatic--cliff-hanger chapter endings that go nowhere, visual metaphors culled from Raymond Chandler's wastebasket: "the muscles beneath his MIT T-shirt rippled like a plastic trash can left out in a heat wave." (And just when did everyone at MIT get so darned _ripped_? Almost everyone's a stud or a babe, except for the shadowy Asian ringleader with the horrible teeth and bad vision. Must be a different part of campus than I usually see.) But he manages to keep the writing at a good poolside or plane-time level, and you can skim the bits that are obviously padded out to stretch a 150-page story into a 250-page book.

The Blackjack itself seems mostly reasonable. The kids practice the classic "Hi-Lo" count, but with a clever twist. Hi-Lo calls for the player to bet the minimum a lot of the time, then dramatically raise the betting level when the distribution of cards turns favorable. One thing this isn't, is inconspicuous--the casinos are good at spotting this stuff. So the MIT gang fielded two types of players--some always bet low, but kept track of the "count." When it became favorable, these players would give the high-sign to a "Gorilla" or "Big Player," who always bet high, and sat at a hot table until the count went bad again. Then the Big Player would drift off and look for the next signal. Nobody ever altered their betting levels; but the high-rollers just seemed to magically land at one hot table after another.

It sounds like a pretty good scheme...even a bit like some of the tactics Blackjack writer Stanford Wong talks about. I guess it could work.

The trouble is that too much of the story just doesn't seem to wash. My spider-sense started tingling early in the book, when a character grabbed two martinis off a passing cocktail waitress's she was passing them around at a catered party. Now, I'm no Vegas-hound, but I've never known the cocktail service at a casino to work that way. And this happens two or three times over the course of the narrative. It's a small thing, almost trivial...but definitively _wrong._ I don't think a writer who's done his homework will miss something like that.

And now that I was thinkig suspiciously, a whole lot of things started smelling fishy. Let me mention a few:

--The team is continually faced with the challenge of moving as much as $600,000 across the country from Boston to Vegas and back, week after week. They have to employ all kinds of subterfuge to get the cash through airport security--hollow laptops, fake casts, ziplock bags in their underwear. Well, why bother? That money is working capital, not profit--why doesn't it just stay in Nevada, in a string of deposit boxes? They mention using _some_ bank boxes, so why run the risk of looking like drug runners?

--The team is forever staying in comped "high roller" suites in big-name casinos: hot tubs, bottle of champagne waiting on arrival, limos to the airport, the whole nine yards. Uhh, way not to attract attention, guys. You can have a safe room just a few steps off the strip for a hundred bucks or less. In a game where once the casinos know your game, it's over, why would "professionals" take these kinds of outrageous risks just to get a free room?

--In fact, to heck with staying in hotels. With the kind of money this book is talking about, the smart investment would be a house, somewhere in the sleepier suburbs of Clark county. Then you'd never have to worry about making one absolute rookie mistake the MIT team makes--counting cards in the same place you're sleeping. It makes for a dramatic scene with hotel security, but it doesn't make a lick of sense. Heck, even _I_ know enough not to do that.

I could go on, but you get the idea. All of these little oddities and inconsistencies make no sense except for one thing--they all serve to sex up the storyline, make it more exotic, more James Bond...make it sell more books. Hmmm. I know a little bit about the proud traditions of tall tales and practical jokes at MIT and Harvard (the author's alma mater). At the end of the day, I have to think that there's more Vegas razzle-dazzle than journalistic truth in here.

But hey, don't we go to casinos to believe in a fantasy? At fourteen bucks, this is one of the cheaper Las Vegas illusions you can buy.
26 von 27 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Intense, Intriguing, and Fun for Everyone 23. April 2010
Von James J. Murphy - Veröffentlicht auf
After reading the book, Bringing Down the House, I was excited and intrigued with the world of card counting and the lives of the card counters. I plan to read more books about the subject. From the book, I got the feeling that Mezrich's goal throughout the book was to captivate and teach people about the world of casinos and card counting. He met one of the characters at a party and was fascinated enough to put the story into a book to enthrall everyone who reads it. I can guarantee to any readers of the book, that they will feel mesmerized by the casino life and more educated about the subject. This book will be a quick read that the reader will not be able to put down. It will interest a wide variety of people, from those who love to gamble and go to casinos all the time to those who have never stepped foot in one in their life. I know this from reading the reviews of the people before me. Many of them said that they gambled before, but a surprisingly large number of them said that they had never gambled in their lives.

In response to a few of the negative reviews, I read through many of them and have a few major disagreements to point out. First, J. Danielson, you talked about how you went to MIT and that Mezrich got a few of the details wrong about the school. To tell you the truth, when people read this book they won't remember the little details of graduating with honors or not, they'll remember the intense casino scenes. This brings me to the next topic of yours that I disagreed with. You talked about how you have been banned from a casino before and that they don't rough you up the way Mezrich made it seem like in his book. Well, there are more than a few casinos and what actions they take when kicking someone out will probably vary between them. Now, to Critical Reader, you say that you did research on Wikipedia after reading the book and found that some of the facts that Mezrich talked about were false. If you want to accuse someone of using false facts, you might want to try a reliable source next time. Finally, to the "crimsonwildcat," in your review, you accuse Mezrich of having what comes off as false conversations with the people in the book. If you haven't met any of these people, then I don't think you can really tell if it was false or not. However, I must agree with the negative reviews when you say that some parts of the book got repetitive. That was definitely a weakness, but Mezrich had many more high points, like expressing the tension between characters and showing the excitement of Las Vegas and a card counter's life.
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