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Breaking Vegas by Ben Mezrich
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Breaking Vegas (edition 2006)

by Ben Mezrich (Author)

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385827,939 (3.53)1
Member:tycragg
Title:Breaking Vegas
Authors:Ben Mezrich (Author)
Info:Arrow (2006), Edition: New Ed, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*****
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Busting Vegas: A True Story of Monumental Excess, Sex, Love, Violence, and Beating the Odds by Ben Mezrich

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Another tale of counting cards and what can happen when casinos think you're getting too greedy. A lot like "Bringing Down the House" but with a different scheme, and a grander scale. ( )
  biggs1399 | Jan 19, 2016 |
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 that involved knowing exactly how to cut cards and would seek out dealers who were just a bit sloppy during the shuffle. (I know nothing about Vegas or Blackjack but don’t they all use mechanical shufflers now? In fact, Mezrich suggests this change was a direct outcome of the casinos’ fear of the MIT strategy.) In any case, these techniques increased their odds to 30% or better, a huge advantage, and by knowing just when to place the bets and knowing when the dealer was going to bust, they could take in hundreds of thousands in just a few hours.

The casinos were not stupid and knew they were doing something (the kids had fake IDs and posed as wealthy businessmen or foreigners) but couldn’t figure out what. Not that they were doing anything illegal except that to casinos anything that doesn’t give them their guaranteed 2-5% edge is wrong and needs to be punished.

The book has been somewhat controversial with some of the principals reporting the events didn’t happen as reported in the book. So take it with a grain of salt. Nevertheless, it’s a good read, just assume it’s like a novel. I’m downgrading it a bit because it feels very superficial, more a recounting of what happened (certainly fascinating in itself) but without much analysis of the characters and their motivation.

Perhaps the great irony is that their strategies had little to do with math and probability (MIT students weren’t needed, the personalities were more crucial) and more with concentration, card control, and knowing how to cut decks precisely. In an interview at the end of the book, Mezrich insists he still uses the techniques successfully in Vegas. Bullshit. I don’t buy it.

Audiobook read by the author who does a creditable job. ( )
  ecw0647 | Jun 17, 2015 |
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 number crunching skills? But who bloody cares! I've grown tired of these reviews I have read about Mezrich's books where people complain that he has bent the truth. He freely admits that at the start of his books, so if you don't like it, don't bloody read his books! It's like complaining that you hate EastEnders, but have a picture of Phil Mitchell as your screensaver (well, sort of!)...

To read the rest of this review, please click here:
http://stevenscaffardi.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/Busting-Vegas-Ben-Mezrich-Book-Rev... ( )
  StevenScaffardi | Jul 31, 2013 |
Very Entertaining!!!! ( )
  Scrub | Oct 22, 2009 |
I had to wonder while reading this book whether the infromation was true ... or whether the author was attempting to cash in on his earlier success on this topic. I found the stories to be entertaining and outrageous, while striking a cord with the inner-criminal in the reader. ( )
  skokie | Jul 3, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060575123, Paperback)

Semyon Dukach couldn't believe how easy the money was. In one weekend, the MIT math genius and his team of geeks had made $200,000 playing the blackjack tables in Las Vegas. They hadn't cheated. Instead, they had discovered one of humanity's greatest holy grails: a system to beat the casino. They had rendered obsolete the old saying that the house always wins. Dukach and his friends made millions during the 1990s playing blackjack in the world's top casinos, right under the noses of pit bosses and security consultants who thought they had seen it all. Dukach's story is told in author Ben Mezrich's vividly narrated book Busting Vegas.

Mezrich, the author of previous bestsellers about MIT gamblers and a colorful Ivy League trader in Japan, tells how Dukach's crew used a system that Vegas had never seen before. Dukach, the son of Russian immigrants who grew up in the poorest neighborhoods of New Jersey and Houston, was determined to climb out of poverty and help his family. His system didn't involve the commonly used techniques of card counting. Posing as an arms dealer or dentist, Dukach deliberately sought out blackjack dealers with small hands or thin fingers who frequently didn't conceal the bottom card when they shuffled the cards. Dukach would often manage to get a glimpse at the bottom card. This was highly significant because it was the card the dealer would hand the player to cut the deck. Dukach had practiced a technique to insert the card in a precise spot in the deck and then make big bets when the card was dealt. Dukach and his team ended up barred from casinos, threatened at gunpoint, and beaten in Vegas's notorious back rooms. This is a riveting yarn. —Alex Roslin

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:20 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Semyon Dukach was the darling of Las Vegas. A legend at twenty-one, this hotshot was the biggest high roller 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, wasn't illegal, and was more powerful than anything tried before. From Atlantic City to the jewel of the gambling crown, Monte Carlo, Dukach and his fellow MIT students hit them all and made millions. Although they were taking classes and studying for exams during the week, over the weekends they stormed the blackjack tables only to be harassed, banned from casinos, threatened at gunpoint, and beaten in Vegas's notorious back rooms. The stakes were high, the dangers very real, but the players were up to the challenges, consequences be damned.--From publisher description.… (more)

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