Sunday, July 30, 2006

Latest Book I Read: Busting Vegas

I listened to the audio book version of Busting Vegas by Ben Mezrich. The audio book was read by the author. It has 3 of 5 stars average from 32 Amazon reviewers. I like it and would probably rate it 4 stars. Mezrich's previous book on the same topic, Bringing Down the House, has 4/5 stars from 336 reviewers.

Busting Vegas isn't about the same subject as Bringing Down the House. They're both about members of the MIT Blackjack Team, but the earlier book (Bringing Down the House) is about an earlier team and their profitable use of advanced card counting techniques. Busting Vegas is about more recent members of the team and their use of some advanced techniques that aren't strictly considered card counting. They involve statistics, precise deck cutting skills, and other methods that enabled the small team to make huge profits. Unfortunately, that kind of profit does not go unnoticed by the casinos. The members enjoyed the luxury of comp'ed suites as well as the excitement of having guns pointed at them and being beaten up. It would make for an enjoyable movie. I can't help but wonder if Mezrich wrote it that way intentionally.

Semyon Dukach, the principle character in the book has his own web site as well as a MySpace page. No WikiPedia page (yet), so there's a limit to his current celebrity. He is the one who told the story. That makes me wonder if the others might decide to tell their stories too. Knowing that the story came from Semyon made me wonder how biased it might be. Regardless, I recommend this book.

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