Busting Vegas

Busting Vegas
Author Ben Mezrich
Country United States
Language English
Publication date September 27, 2005

Busting Vegas (stylized as Busting Vega$) is a 2005 book by Ben Mezrich about a group of MIT card counters and blackjack players commonly known as the MIT Blackjack Team. The subtitle of the original, hardcover edition was The MIT Whiz Kid Who Brought the Casinos to Their Knees,[1] but the subtitle of the subsequent paperback editions was A True Story of Monumental Excess, Sex, Love, Violence, and Beating the Odds.[2]

While represented as non-fiction by Mezrich, the book contains significant fictional elements. The book is a sequel to Bringing Down the House, however the team discussed in Busting Vegas were primarily active prior to the team discussed in Bringing Down the House.[3]

Synopsis

The book's main character Semyon Dukach, while attending MIT is recruited by team leader Victor Cassius to play on a highly specialised blackjack team that employs advanced advantage play strategies like card steering and Ace sequencing. Aggressive casinos investigation into the teams various identities forces the team to travel outside of America to continue play, culminating in a high tension climax in Monte Carlo after being caught steering cards. This alongside the substance abuse issues of one of the members ultimately leads to the end of the team.

Characters

Semyon Dukach

Semyon Dukach is a real person and MIT alum. The story is primarily based on his experiences and told from his perspective.

Victor Cassius

Victor Cassius is a composite character. Many of the events involving Victor appear to be drawn from the experiences of Johnny Chang including the plane crash detailed at the start of the book.[3]

Allie Simpson

Another composite character at least partly based on a MIT team member known only as 'Katie' who appeared in the History Channel documentary 'Breaking Vegas'.

Factual Inaccuracies

  • The team never got robbed by a casino executive on a golf course on Aruba. This story is apparently based on the experiences of one of Johnny Chang's associates.[3]
  • Semyon was not abducted at gunpoint outside a casino in Atlantic City. This story was based on an experience he had while working delivering pizzas in Houston and had no connection to blackjack or gambling.[3]
  • The team that played in Monte Carlo consisted of Semyon, Andy Bloch and Katie.[3]
  • Semyon did reach out to a casino private investigator to help locate a team mate, but not due to drugs use.[3]
  • There was no player on the team with whom Semyon had a romantic relationship. In fact he was married with a child at the time of the events in the book.[3]
  • Semyon did not at any point meet Ben Mezrich in a brothel.[3]
  • Ben Mezrich did not learn or use these techniques himself. Semyon demonstrated steering a 10 card for him once.[3]

References

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