Bringing Down The House : The Inside Story Of Six M.I.T.Students Who Took Vegas For Millions by Ben Mezrich

Bringing Down The House : The Inside Story Of Six M.I.T.Students Who Took Vegas For Millions by Ben Mezrich

The thrilling and incredible true story of how a group of brilliant M.I.T. students and engineers transformed themselves into a modern-day Robin Hood gang, fighting the system in the casinos of Las Vegas, is now available to readers everywhere. This national bestselling book has also been turned into an exciting motion picture that brings to life the high-stakes world of gambling.

Picture this: a group of brilliant math students and engineers from M.I.T., led by a quirky and unconventional mastermind, dive headfirst into the world of blackjack. What starts as a simple experiment in counting cards quickly evolves into a full-fledged operation, with the team developing an unbeatable system for beating the casinos at their own game.

In just under two years, these extraordinary individuals manage to amass over three million dollars in winnings from some of the most prestigious and sophisticated casinos in the world. However, their extraordinary success comes at a price. The wrath of casino owners is unleashed upon them, plunging them into the dark and gritty underbelly of corporate Las Vegas. Soon, private investigators and menacing heavies are hot on their trail.

Inside the Secret World of MIT Blackjack: Taking Vegas for Millions

Ben Mesrich’s non-fiction book “Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions” (2002) recounts the experiences of a group of students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology who utilize card counting techniques to win money at casinos in Las Vegas. Although the story is based on true events, only one character in the book is solely based on an actual person.

The book begins with Kevin Lewis (a pseudonym) appearing intoxicated as he contemplates a game of blackjack at a casino. In reality, Kevin is sober and faking his condition. With thirty thousand dollars at stake, the dealer pressures him to make a decision. Kevin glances at his spotter, a fellow student named Jill, who signals him in unfamiliar ways. Surprised by this new signal, which means “get out immediately,” Kevin collects his winnings and hurries to leave before casino security catches up to him. Jill joins him, and the narrative then shifts back to Kevin’s time at MIT.

Kevin is exceptionally intelligent and excels in mathematics. However, he feels immense pressure to impress his father, resulting in anxiety. To alleviate stress, Kevin swims laps at the pool. One day, his roommates Fisher and Martinez interrupt his swim, insisting that he meet someone important. They introduce Kevin to Mickey Rosa, the wealthy founder of the MIT blackjack team.

Rosa recruits the brightest students to join the team, which specializes in card counting and other winning strategies at Las Vegas casinos. Previous teams have achieved remarkable success, and Rosa believes Kevin would make an ideal addition. Although unfamiliar with blackjack, Kevin is intrigued by the mathematical aspect and passes the tests to join the team with ease. As the team begins regular trips to Las Vegas, Kevin becomes proficient in blackjack, and they win consistently, earning him a significant amount of money.

Kevin begins to enjoy a luxurious lifestyle but must keep it a secret, only confiding in his fellow team members. He feels particularly guilty about lying to his girlfriend, Felicia, leading to their breakup. As the team discusses the potential for even greater winnings with additional members, they recruit Andrew Tay, a talented sophomore, without consulting Rosa.

However, they discover that Rosa has established another blackjack team without their knowledge, leading to conflict. Frustrated, the team decides to operate independently, electing Fisher as their new leader. As their trips continue, the team becomes careless, taking risks and overlooking important details. During a chaotic incident at the MGM Grand Casino, a riot ensues when Mike Tyson bites off Evander Holyfield’s ear during a fight. In the chaos, people steal chips from the casino, prompting the casino to replace all their high-value chips with new ones.

To salvage their money, the team recruits six women to cash in some of the chips for a percentage of the winnings. Though successful, Kevin is eventually caught counting cards, and the team faces increasing difficulty entering other casinos due to their reputation as card counters. They attempt disguises, but their efforts are quickly foiled. Additionally, Martinez is recognized and threatened at one gambling establishment.

The team discovers unclaimed chips worth fifty thousand dollars, and Kevin is tasked with cashing them in. However, he encounters delays at the casino, causing stress. Eventually, he retrieves the money, but Mickey Rosa informs them that they have been betrayed by someone on one of the teams, suggesting they walk away. Instead, Kevin decides to form his own team alongside Fisher and Martinez.

When both teams converge on the MGM Grand, Fisher tries to intimidate Kevin into leaving, but Kevin stands his ground. Returning to their apartment, they discover that a wall safe containing seventy thousand dollars has been stolen. This setback prompts discussions of quitting once again. Kevin rushes to his own apartment but finds everything in place. Outside, he spots a man speaking on a cell phone.

The epilogue reveals that Kevin disbands the team and eventually retires, although he continues to gamble and count cards occasionally.

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