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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Review: Bringing Down The House

Bringing Down The House(Kindle Edition) is the story of 6 MIT students (or in some cases, MIT drop-outs) who used their knowledge of statistics, team work, and chutzpah to milk Las Vegas for money in the 1990s through the game of black jack. A short excerpt from the book can be found here.

This book is compelling reading --- Ben Mezrich has a talent for keeping you at the edge of your seat, moving the narrative along at a good clip. It also helps that the subject matter is fascinating --- not only is it fun to see smart geeks do in the Casinos, but the exposure to the seamy side of Sin City in the game of high rollers is just as much fun. The explanation of tiers of players (and how the casino decides who to bestow all those VIP treatments on) is entertaining.

The plot is perhaps inevitable --- eventually the Las Vegas casinos do catch up to our heroes, and the scene becomes ugly. But in the mean time, you get a lot of fun. The book even ends with a semi-technical appendix by Kevin Lewis on the background behind card counting. It's by no means technical enough --- I guess he didn't want to reveal too many of his tricks. All in all, a good read, and I'm sure it'll be better than the movie that it's based on (which will come out later this year). Recommended as an ideal airplane book.

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