Busting Vegas: A True Story of Monumental Excess, Sex, Love, Violence, and Beating the Odds
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He played in casinos around the world with a plan to make himself richer than anyone could possibly imagine -- but it would nearly cost him his life.
Semyon Dukach was known as the Darling of Las Vegas. A legend at age twenty-one, this cocky hotshot was the biggest high roller to appear in Sin City in decades, a mathematical genius with a system the casinos had never seen before and couldn't stop -- a system that has never been revealed until now; that has nothing to do with card counting, wasn't illegal, and was more powerful than anything that had been tried before.
Las Vegas. Atlantic City. Aruba. Barcelona. London. And the jewel of the gambling crown -- Monte Carlo.
Dukach and his fellow MIT students hit them all and made millions. They came in hard, with stacks of cash; big, seemingly insane bets; women hanging on their arms; and fake identities. Although they were taking classes and studying for exams during the week, over the weekends they stormed the blackjack tables only to be harassed, banned from casinos, threatened at gunpoint, and beaten in Vegas's notorious back rooms.
The stakes were high, the dangers very real, but the players were up to the challenges, consequences be damned. There was Semyon Dukach himself, bored with school and broke; Victor Cassius, the slick, brilliant MIT grad student who galvanized the team; Owen Keller, with stunning ability but a dark past that would catch up to him; and Allie Simpson, bright, clever, and a feast for the eyes.
In the classroom, they were geeks. On the casino floor, they were unstoppable.
Busting Vega$ is Dukach's unbelievably true story; a riveting account of monumental greed, excess, hubris, sex, love, violence, fear, and statistics that is high-stakes entertainment at its best.
the dealer, gave Semyon and his team a massive 30 percent advantage. And the technique was so subtle, so unheard of, that no casino in the world would ever be able to figure out what they were doing. They certainly weren’t cheating. Cheating, in Semyon’s mind, was changing the outcome of the game. He was simply using the information in front of him to beat the game. Sure, he had seen the back card—but he hadn’t done anything illegal to make it visible. And they had handed him the cut card. Was
Semyon couldn’t help thinking back to something Victor had told him once, almost as an aside. Just remember, they’re always watching you. There are cameras everywhere in the casinos. In the gaming area, in the hallways, in the elevators, even in some of the bathrooms. Hell, the only place they don’t have cameras is in those infamous back rooms. Now Semyon and Owen were on their way to that one place in the casino that didn’t have cameras. That one place in the casino—where nobody would be
Sagrada Familia, a church with lavish bell towers covered in Venetian mosaics. All of them feeling out of place, every minute of every day, and yet loving it, because unlike the thousands of tourists they passed in the streets and in the churches and museums, they were in Barcelona for a reason: night, when, like predators, they roamed the dark pits of the casino, plying their trade. The Gran Casino’s focus was on the European table games; roulette, baccarat, mini–punto banco, craps. The first
rooms. At first glance, it didn’t really look like any casino Semyon had ever seen; it looked more like a palace or even a church: thick Oriental carpets, stained-glass windows, bronze sconces, oil paintings depicting nineteenth-century scenery, and of course, more chandeliers, so many goddamn chandeliers. But then he saw the table games, placed almost haphazardly about the vast rooms, he heard the riff of cards and the spin of roulette wheels—and he began to feel more at home. It took them a
this, with certainty, because he’d seen the king at the back of the dealer’s roll; he’d cut to exactly the fifty-second card from the bottom. He’d counted down, signaling Victor and the rest of them as they’d gotten closer and closer. And he’d manipulated the hands so that the king was there, waiting and ready. In a moment, almost certainly, they were going to bust the dealer again, for the sixteenth time. And they were going to add a hundred and twenty thousand dollars to their winnings.