Luck, Money, Fame, and Greed: A Foreshadow of Tragedy
Reviewed by Raheem Huseinbhai
May 5, 2008
This action-packed story regarding MIT students gambling is both exiting and well written, having the nonfiction plot and story line with the fictional dramatic elements. The story of a double life, millions of dollars, and consequences of fame and popularity, Bringing Down the House is a book that just cannot be put down, a onetime read that leaves you wanting more.
Luck, Money, Greed, Fame. Four adjectives that appear to be wonderful while living the lifestyle, but a foreshadow tragedy and consequences. This is the story of Kevin Lewis, an MIT student, struggling to pay his tuition. He eventually comes across a MIT Blackjack Team, which focuses on counting cards to gain a legal edge over the house. It is the story of Kevin and the rest of his blackjack team that captivated the reader, who earned millions of dollars through casinos all across the world. However, their fame soon leads them into a grim situation, oftentimes being barred from entering casinos, being detected through all their cameos and costumes. This book presents both factual evidence with the “Hollywood” – like drama, pertaining to the fame and its impact regarding greed and eventual downfall. It is also due to this well balance that I enjoyed this book to such a great extent, as I also instantly dreamt of making millions through gambling, and living this perceived “wild” lifestyle.
Kevin’s opportunity for success was primarily due to“luck of the draw”. He was fortunate enough to be recruited for a once underground blackjack team run by MIT students and alumnus. Their overall strategy was to seek a edge over the house; this was achieved through the counting of cards, in which the used cards of the deck are analyzed to predict the future cards, and doing so, also enabling them to bet big and win big. For a period of time, this double life for Kevin, studying during the week for tests in MIT, and studying probability on the casino floors during the weekend, seemed perfect. This is the story portrayed by the author Ben Mezrich. Due to the entertaining but also informative style of his writing, a plethora of reading audiences could be engrossed with this publication. The diction and syntax is simplistic, not swaying the reader away from the most significant component of the book: the plot. Furthermore, the “juicy” information, usually provided in the magazines of the local supermarkets is also apparent, regarding personal relationships, and plots to overthrow the board of directors, the people responsible for the initial financing of this project.
The entertainment and mystery were two major reasons why I enjoyed this novel to the degree in which I had. Mezrich was able to achieve this balance of mystery and entertainment in a fantastic way, as his writings kept me both curious but also entertained. With the numerous obligatory texts we read in our regular classes, this book alleviates the sometimes “dreaded” task of readings. The money and fame in which the characters evolves makes the reader rather envious of the opportunities present in this world. The M.I.T students were presented with a solution of earning money by using their intellectual talents by merely counting decks of cards, with the hopeful forecast or prediction of strong blackjack hands. The quick pace of the novel can be related to Dan Brown’s Angles and Demons as well as The Da Vinci Code. Due to the numerous events jam packed together, Bringing Down the House can draw comparison. However, Mezrich’s novel, based off a true story, does not relate in plot nor setting, obviously.
Thus, I would recommend this book to those who seek to read about a life of “fun,” specifically through gambling in casinos. Although the book is primarily focused on the lives of the students, it also introduces the casino management perspective, citing examples in which they soon become angered by the students frequent “bringing down the house”, cleaning the casinos for every penny possible. With this information, the casino underworld is also introduced, specifically the infamous “back rooms”, where cameras are not present, as your basic human rights are sometimes forgotten. The Hollywood like drama pertaining to the students is also a major reason why this book should be read, as it serves as a more elite US Weekly, containing major juice, however, this type actually being factual.
Bringing Down the House is a fantastic book, containing many different aspects, meant for a wide range of audiences. With its unique collusion of drama and suspense, this text serves as a entertaining book, that, once begun, will never be put down until finished. Its popularity recently was actually transformed into a movie, titled 21. Mezrich’s incorporation of these unique things obligates one to recommend this to others.