Monday, December 04, 2006

Bringing Down the House, by Ben Mezrich

This is the true story of 6 MIT students who bent the odds of Vegas to their advantage using a system of card-counting and subterfuge. Relayed through the novelist, Ben Mezrich, this account takes on the atmosphere of a thriller, complete with the danger that comes with running afoul of people who are only a degree or two removed from the mob.

Just as exciting as the misadventures with vengeful casinos, the action at the tables is riveting. If you ever read Positively Fifth Street, by James McManus, gambling is quite a rush for both the players and the spectators. And the Vegas lifestyle is a long streak of adrenalin demanding to be indulged with possessions, hookers, and danger. And when the house doesn't want to play anymore, everything hits the wall; everything but the need to play, and play, and play.

This was a fun and exciting story. Unfortunately, it may embolden the reader to engage in similar exploits. It is seductive. But it's important to remember that all those lights and all that glitter is ultimately paid for by losers. And there are an awful lot of them.

As mind candy, 4 stars; as a morality tale, 2.

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