Friday, July 17, 2009

Book Review: Bringing Down The House by Ben Mezrich

Bringing Down The House - Ben Mezrich

Kevin Lewis is an engineering student at MIT when he is recruited by the MIT Blackjack team and taught the art of counting cards. Using basic counting techniques mixed with a variety of physical and oral signals, the team travels to Las Vegas and works the blackjack tables, counting cards in order to make a profit.
Although it’s not illegal, the team have to be aware of suspicious pit bosses and casino security who don’t like the idea of somebody beating the system and taking their money.
Mezrich, a friend of Lewis’, was enlisted to write about the extraordinary tale, where a group of twenty-something’s study and work during the week, and party with actors and famous sportspeople in Vegas on the weekends, all the while earning millions of dollars on the blackjack table.

What I gained from reading this book:
This novel was made into a film called 21, starring Jim Sturgess, Kate Bosworth and Kevin Spacey, but it’s interesting to see just how different the book and the film are. In the film, the characters look very different to how they are portrayed in the novel, and even their relationships are altered (although this is more than likely for cinematic appeal than for any other reason). This only highlights just how much is sacrificed from novels when texts are adapted for film.

This story has everything- not only are the characters dealing with millions of dollars in cash and casino chips, but they also have to smuggle it all in and out of Vegas on airplanes, avoid casino heavyweights, keep their secret occupation hidden from their loved ones and all while struggling through college or mundane jobs. But want to know the best thing about it? It’s all apparently true.

The idea that a group of people were smart enough to beat the system and try to take back from the casinos is inspiring, although it makes you wonder exactly how smart they really were, risking their safety to feed their high-stakes addictions.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Genre: Biography

Recommended for: People who enjoyed the film and want to read from the source

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below:

Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions

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