Naturally he excelled in school, graduating from Harvard in with a degree in Social Studies. He now spends most of his free time writing non-fiction books, most famous for writing Bringing Down the House, as it stayed on the New York Times Bestseller List for over a year and eventually was developed into the award winning movie: In fact, we find out that he has even more money hidden in his duffle bag. Things seem to be going great for Kevin until he receives a signal from his spotter, telling him to get out of there immediately.
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Naturally he excelled in school, graduating from Harvard in with a degree in Social Studies. He now spends most of his free time writing non-fiction books, most famous for writing Bringing Down the House, as it stayed on the New York Times Bestseller List for over a year and eventually was developed into the award winning movie: In fact, we find out that he has even more money hidden in his duffle bag.
Things seem to be going great for Kevin until he receives a signal from his spotter, telling him to get out of there immediately.
They nervously scramble outside of Las Vegas, luckily escaping the three big men in suits coming their way just in time. This event foreshadows the events to come, as they may not always be so lucky. Chapter 2 Boston, Present Day In this novel, we are constantly thrown between learning about events of the past to witnessing the present day experiences of the author.
Chapter 3 Boston, June Chapter 3 takes us by surprise as we are suddenly taken back to June , learning about Kevin before he knew about card counting and blackjack. Although he excelled in all of his classes, he was certainly not passionate about medicine anymore, hoping to change majors but not willing to upset his father.
We also get introduced to his two roommates: Martinez and Fisher. They were both M. He wondered how their money never ran out, suspecting they may be involved with something illegal. Although Kevin has his doubts about these two, he agrees to go with them.
Chapter 4 Atlantic City, June We flash forward to next weekend where Kevin and Martinez are being picked up from the airport in a Mercedes Limousine. This is why they have access to the most luxurious suites in the hotel and get free perks likes tickets to the Holyfield fight. Kevin curiously asks Martinez to tell him more about what they do, starting a thoughtful discussion about basic strategy, shuffle tracking, and card counting.
Fisher enters the casino later, acting to be a loose player to avoid getting caught as a card counter; they have to pretend not to know him. In the little free time he has, Kevin researches blackjack theory, discovering two major problems with card counting. The first being that the percentage over the house was still quite low, and the second being that it was too easy to get caught. They then escort him to a room at M. They explain that this is the current M. They have developed a fool proof system that overcomes the two problems Kevin thought existed.
Kevin agrees to join their team, but is then informed that he still has to pass their tests. Chapter 6 Boston, October In Chapter 6, we really get insight into how the team works and get introduced to the three main parts of the team: Spotters, Gorillas, and Big Players.
We also follow Kevin on his three part test journey which consists of mastering basic strategy, knowing how to use card indexes to vary his play, and a full scale test in a casino environment. He finished the first couple of tests in a matter of weeks, and after a formal practice session, Kevin is ready for his final test.
Despite all of the distractions, Kevin is able to keep his count. Not even a minute went by until he heard the laughter of his friends and a congratulations saying he made the team. Chapter 8 Las Vegas, Present Day Just as the story becomes interesting, we are sent back to present time where the author is interviewing a man by the name Damon Zimonowski.
He has worked almost every position a casino has to offer from security guard, to dealer, to pit boss, eventually working his way up to shift manager. He provides the author with a different insight into the realities of Vegas, explaining the five distinct eras since gambling was first legalized in Nevada.
The author ends the chapter by explaining the difference between casino cheaters and card counters. Chapter 9 Thirty Thousand Feet, November By this time, Kevin is practically a natural when it comes to card counting. His past is filled with white picket fences, perfectly mowed lawns, and pristine homes. We see him win and lose thousands of dollars over the course of the year, enjoying every single minute of his new double life. Although he has a girlfriend, we are introduced to a new love interest of his: Teri Pollack.
Chapter 13 Chicago, May Kevin takes the initiative to break up with Felicia, who he had been dating for over a year now.
He now spends most of his free moments in Las Vegas with Teri, using his comps to sweep her off her feet. He finally graduated M.
Fisher and Martinez wanted him to play blackjack full time, but Kevin was still afraid of what his parents would think if they found out. Chapter 14 Boston, June The team is very interested in expanding, believing that adding more members to the team would be financially beneficial. They are looking for people they can trust and who meet their profile. We are introduced to Tay in this chapter, quickly discovering that he will make a nice asset to the team.
We learn that her and her husband, Dylan, joined the blackjack team around the same time that Tay had joined. She also infers that their experiences on the blackjack team ultimately lead to their divorce. Kevin decides to quit his banking job, but is still looking for a job to replace it. Chapter 17 Boston, Halloween The team meets without Mickey to see if they are all on the same page about wanting to go on without his support.
Chapter 18 Boston, November Even though the team continues to bring in more and more money, Kevin chooses to go back to work to keep his parents from asking questions and to feel more productive. The team celebrates two years of success by watching the Mike Tyson vs. Kevin gets sick shortly before the fight is about to start, so he decides to get some rest instead.
Many chips were stolen in the debacle, so the casino will be very strict about their cash out policy. High-class strippers come to the rescue, cashing in these coins for them.
April explains how much money a good stripper can actually make, and makes an interesting comparison of strip clubs to casinos. Not only is Kevin barred from the casino, but the casino makes is blatantly obvious to him that they know another one of his aliases. Meanwhile Martinez is escorted to a room downstairs where casino personnel threaten him to never return to this casino again.
The team suspects there be may private investigators on their case. Chapter 21 Boston, Fall Avoiding Vegas for a little while, the team returns to the Grand Victoria in Chicago where they are greeted with familiar faces. They quickly discover that this casino has been informed about their presence too, as a pit boss points both Fisher and Martinez out to Kevin, telling him they all needed to leave.
Tay also notices a suspicious man sitting next to him with an earpiece on, quietly reporting his actions. These cameras are easily able to follow a person from one room to the next and have advanced facial recognition build into them.
Martinez and Fisher spent that time meeting up with some of the top Hollywood make-up artists. They would overcome being recognized by the casinos by using unique disguises. However when they switch to a nearby casino, it becomes obvious very quickly that they are not welcomed there. A car followed close behind Kevin that night, making sure he left the casino, and warning him to never return.
Chapter 26 Boston, Spring Towards the beginning of this chapter, we discover that the IRS is doing an audit investigation on Kevin. Martinez calls to warn Kevin that this entire situation is even worse than they thought.
Upon hearing this news, Kevin is eager to take a break while Fisher is still adamant about plowing ahead. Chapter 28 Boston, Spring Fisher and Martinez head off to the Bahamas, leaving Kevin behind wondering if there is more to life than all of this.
Fisher had been beaten in the bathroom, warned to stay out of their casinos for good. The boys realize that if they are going to continue playing blackjack, they are going to have to make some drastic changes. Furious, Kevin picks up the phone to form his own team, which consists of Tay, Dylan, and Jill.
Chapter 30 Las, Memorial Day Kevin and his new team take things much slower than their original team. They actually spend time enjoying the city and playing other games besides blackjack. Chapter 32 Las Vegas, Hard Rock, Present Day In the last chapter of this book, we discover that three years have passed and Kevin no longer plays blackjack.
Instead he opened a bar downtown with his friends, having to go through a second tedious audit before it could be opened. Kevin fills the author in with the details on where everyone else on the team ended up. Fisher and Martinez no longer can step foot in casinos, but they do run a team of highly skilled students from M.
Kevin expresses that he misses the environment and often thinks about what it would be like to start over. He goes over favorable casino rules that they would look for, while also explaining what moves he would make in certain situations. Ultimately he discloses everything readers need to know in order to make money through card counting at the casinos today without getting caught. Martinez hints that the casinos know more about his actions than he ever anticipated. Nobody wins in Las Vegas. Kevin Lewis knows that better than anyone.
Now, with the movie version of his breakout, Bringing Down the House, coming to theaters, there are nagging questions about just how far Mezrich stretches the facts in his fantastic yarns.
The character development in this book is exceptional, especially when it comes to the main character. We watch Kevin grow over the years, getting attached to him and feeling sorry for him as his world slowly starts to crumble around him. He makes it easy for readers to visualize any scene or person being described. The dialog between characters also helps us understand them.
One complaint we do have about the book is its claim to be non-fiction. Although we would like to believe that this book is based entirely on the true events of the M. Despite this minor complaint, we definitely recommend that all gambling enthusiasts read this book.
Books by Ben Mezrich
The team was financed by a colorful character named Micky Rosa, who had organized at least one other team to play the Vegas strip. This new team was the most profitable yet. Personality conflicts and card counting deterrent efforts at the casinos eventually ended this incarnation of the MIT Blackjack Team. Ma has since gone on to found a fantasy sports company called Citizen Sports a stock market simulation game. Nonetheless, Lewis does things in the book that Ma himself says did not occur. After his professional card counting career, Aponte went on to win the World Series of Blackjack , and started a company called the Blackjack Institute. Mike also has his own blog.
Bringing Down the House Review
He graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Social Studies from Harvard University in Some of his books have been written under the pseudonym Holden Scott. He is known for his non-fiction books. He lives in Boston. He has been married to Tonya M. Chen since This book tells the story of a group of students from MIT who bet on blackjack games using a sophisticated card counting system, earning millions of dollars at casinos in Las Vegas and other gambling centers in the United States and the Caribbean.