Bringing Down the House Review

Ben Mezrich.

(Free Press)

This book tells the stunning story of 6 MIT students who literally brought them a casino house in Vegas, not just for hundreds of bucks, but millions of it. This is the legendary story that only few people know about the truth.

Six young people who, until before that special moment, knew nothing but their life at MIT, was going to make their own story. It is not the story of how they succeeded in MIT, created a high-tech tool, or something. It is a story that every bettors want to hear. It is a story of how 6 MIT students broke casino houses in Vegas and took their millions.

Some of them were just like other kids at that time. Kevin Lewis, one of these ‘talented’ boys, were amiable, geeky, and shy. That’s the first impression the writer got when they first met in a party. Just like any other kid, he was looking for his true identity and future. It seemed there are only a few people interested in him and his life. No one seems to care about him, until he joined the MIT Blackjack Team in 1993. He was just 20 back then when someone in the club told him that blackjack is beatable.

Later, together with other club’s members, Lewis studied and even further re-invented the classic ‘hi-lo’ technique. This card-counting strategy first became popular in 1962 after Edward Thorp introduced it in his famous, yet controversial book: Beat the Dealer.

Unlike some people who just read the book and did nothing about it, Lewis and his friends were more interested in putting it into a life-scale application. Their techniques were legal, according to the law, but not to the casino owners. Everything they did was deemed illegal. Yet, it never stopped them from taking actions.

They began to make their move after getting financial support from anonymous investor. They began checking into several hotels in Vegas under fake names. In their room, the team secretly built their strategies. Instead of working as a lone wolf, they ‘attacked’ each casino as a team, but still pretending to be alone. They use their own code words and gestures to let each member know their cards.  Taking statistical information they learnt from blackjack, they managed to win millions before their trick was found out. They soon became criminals and were hunted down.

In this book, you will see how the author use a unique point of view, Kevin’s, to tell the whole story. It is so tempting and mesmerizing that it seems you are the one who is experiencing the whole stuff.