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Busting Vegas: A True Story of Monumental Excess, Sex, Love, Violence, and Beating the Odds Paperback – August 22, 2006
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Mezrich, the author of previous bestsellers about MIT gamblers and a colorful Ivy League trader in Japan, tells how Dukach's crew used a system that Vegas had never seen before. Dukach, the son of Russian immigrants who grew up in the poorest neighborhoods of New Jersey and Houston, was determined to climb out of poverty and help his family. His system didn't involve the commonly used techniques of card counting. Posing as an arms dealer or dentist, Dukach deliberately sought out blackjack dealers with small hands or thin fingers who frequently didn't conceal the bottom card when they shuffled the cards. Dukach would often manage to get a glimpse at the bottom card. This was highly significant because it was the card the dealer would hand the player to cut the deck. Dukach had practiced a technique to insert the card in a precise spot in the deck and then make big bets when the card was dealt. Dukach and his team ended up barred from casinos, threatened at gunpoint, and beaten in Vegas's notorious back rooms. This is a riveting yarn. Alex Roslin --This text refers to the Preloaded Digital Audio Player edition.
About the Author
Ben Mezrich graduated magna cum laude from Harvard in 1991. He has published twelve books, including the New York Times bestsellers The Accidental Billionaires, which was adapted into the Academy Award-winning film The Social Network, and Bringing Down the House, which has sold more than 1.5 million copies in twelve languages and became the basis for the Kevin Spacey movie 21. Mezrich has also published the national bestsellers Sex on the Moon, Ugly Americans, Rigged, and Busting Vegas. He lives in Boston.
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Top Customer Reviews
These blackjack techniques (or scams, depending on your point of view) involve as much math as they do shuffle-watching and precise card-cutting. It's a marriage of the intense math required for card counting and the near-impossible perfect moves required in a roulette or craps scam. Complete control of an entire table by the team is required, so that a known card can be directed to hit on the appropriate hand. No random players can be sitting at the table taking cards out of the shuffle.
As with the other MIT scam, the players have to take on fake identities. In this scam, however, it is essential that everyone be a big roller, a "whale." Just watching the insane Russian arms dealer, trust-fund brat, and European rock star characters these guys take around the Strip is entertaining.
Is Mezrich's account to be taken as the literal truth? Of course not! Names have been changed and the story has been spiced up to read like a Grisham novel. Semyon Dukatch himself has said that the story captures the "essense" of his experience. This isn't meant to be 100% truth, and it would probably be a heck of a lot more dry reading if someone had told every literal fact from start to finish.Read more ›
Unfortunately, this book is so badly-written it's almost unbearable to read. I wasn't expecting great non-fiction, but this is *bad*. Here's an example: describing a "grueling" month of training the team goes through before hitting Vegas, we're told that the students made "biweekly" trips to a local casino. Really? Two whole trips isn't exactly "grueling" training. (Maybe the author meant "twice weekly"?) This is followed by "every ten days, the team endured 'checkouts'"--basically pop quizzes. Every *ten* days? So...that makes three times during this so-called intense month? This doesn't exactly paint a picture of the team grinding away in Boston in preparation for the big score, it sounds kinda like some kids playing cards every once in a while.
The whole book can't seem to strike the right tone of reality. This *is* a true story, but it isn't told straight. Details are needlessly specific (how many books on a bookcase, the color of a pair of shoes, how good a cup of tea is, and so on). But these are details that aren't just irrelevant to the story, but impossible to recall. It's clear that the author is simply filling in information here in hopes that it all seems more "real". Problem is, it's not possible to tell when these details *are* real, and so everything seems equally fake, and you end up wondering: when Owen was in that secret back room at the casino, did he really get beat up and handcuffed? Did the security team really threaten him like that? Or are those details just imagined, too? If this was pure fiction, it'd be ok, but in a supposedly non-fiction book, it feels mostly made-up.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
You don't read Ben Mezrich books for the fine literature. They are full of cliches and one liners. You read his books for the interesting stories that they contain. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Robert Sparrenberger
Very Entertaining. Didn't feel entirely authentic, but I couldn't put it down.Published 8 months ago by Joseph Sullivan
This book plays out the life of MIT's most famous Blackjack player and on the teams he's played. He is banned from basically every casino in the world. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Richard R.
Fun quick read, similar in pace and style to his other works. I highly recommend for your next flight to Vegas.Published 12 months ago by Adam Naddelman
another good book on the same subject by the author. Worth your timePublished 13 months ago by Sean Clark