Bringing Down the House

Bringing Down The House - Ben MezrichBringing Down the House (ISBN 1-4176653-7), Ben Mezrich’s popular best selling book based on a group of MIT students that take down casinos in Vegas for Millions playing blackjack with their own unique form of card counting has caused a considerable amount of debate amongst writers, publishers and gambling enthusiasts since the book was first published in September 2003.

This debate increased dramatically when the book was used as a basis for the movie 21, a hugely popular Hollywood blockbuster staring Keven Spacey, Laurence Fishburne and Kate Bosworth that went on to gross close to $158 million world wide during its cinematic release in 2008.

The issue of debate centered heavily on whether the book and subsequent move was fact or fiction.  Having written a number of short stories myself here at The 13th Story, and having edited and assisted writers in publishing other pieces focusing on exploits of gamblers in Las Vegas casinos, it’s fair to say that the truth may well lie somewhere between the two.

Whilst Mezrich’s book is actually classified as non-fiction, a number of commentators have gone on record challenging certain elements.  Many of these relate to the methods and techniques used by the MIT team of card counters whilst attempting to beat the casinos at Blackjack.  Yet the book itself and the subsequent movie have certainly proved to be entertaining and have brought a new generation of players to understand the risks and rewards of challenging the casinos and their sophisticated security systems.21 Movie Staring Kevin Spacey

In fact judging by events in 2013 at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Australia, where a team of gamblers took the casino for an estimated $32 million with an elaborate scheme whereby the casino’s surveillance system was infiltrated, gives some credibility that’s its still possible in today’s digital age to get one over casinos.  In fact it actually shows that the security issues facing casinos go far beyond the borders of Las Vegas.  According to  casino industry insider, security within the Aussie gambling sector was more focused on preventing fraud on individual Australian online pokies games than with the wider issue of high roller fraud.  Given that $32 million is a little more than loose change, even by the standards of Melbourne’s Crown Casino, that casino security is being taken a little more seriously by those ‘down under’.

Whilst Mezrich’s book and Spacey’s subsequent adaption of it in the movie 21 focus entirely on the traditional brick and mortar casino sector, the latest gambling related frauds and scams appear to be occurring within the online gambling sector.  The story of Absolute Poker is another non-fiction novel penned by Ben Mezrich that has recently hit the shelves to much acclaim, and is based on the rise and subsequent fall of Absolute Poker, an online gambling site developed by six US college students.  In an interesting and though provoking story, Mezrich produces yet another gripping yarn that will appeal to gambling enthusiasts around the globe.  What remains clear is that as the growth of online gambling continues, much of which has been accelerated due to the advancements in mobile and smart phone technology, which now provide high quality mobile online pokies that closely resemble popular games that can be found at traditional land based brick and mortar casino sites.  We will be adding a review of Mezrich’s latest novel titled ‘Straight Flush’ to the 13th Story site in the near future.  In the meantime we will leave it up to you to decide where the equilibrium lies between fact and fiction within stories such as ‘Bringing Down the House’.