The first full day of the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA) conference in Las Vegas on Monday did not disappoint. More than 2,000 attendees heard Ben Mezrich, author of Bringing Down The House-which was made into a movie titled 21 about beating casinos at blackjack-share stories about the Oscar-winning movie, The Social Network, which was based on his book about the history of the social network.  His next movie, due out this July, is called Sex on the Moon, based on a true story of a young man who stole the moon rocks collected by the NASA Apollo missions.

Talking about Bringing Down The House, Mezrich spoke of how the MIT blackjack team would tape $1 million dollars to their bodies for the flight from Boston to Vegas, then turning it into $6 million by winning at blackjack through card counting.  He explained how they knew when the deck was loaded with high cards-and primed for big bets that would make the dealer go bust.

"It is not illegal, but the casinos frown upon it," he said."  He then pointed out, to huge laughter, the irony of him talking about the book at the Bellagio casino hotel.

Card-counting skills started to be passed down to MIT students in the late 60s. They escaped scrutiny for years, as casinos traditionally had certain stereotypes in mind when looking for cheaters. Card counters still operate today, he said, but the MIT groups broke up after casinos started scanning photos from MIT yearbooks into their facial recognition software.

He credited Wall Street with making the book successful, noting that traders and other financial professionals were the ones who first bought up copies in search of casino winning strategies.

Mezrich also pointed out the irony of the movie rights being bought by MGM, the owner of casinos that lost tons of money from the crews. He thought MGM would never release the movie. But they said, 'We love this movie, because we want people to think they can win.'

Regarding his book, The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook, a Tale of Sex, Money, Genius, and Betrayal, Mezrich said he could not have asked for a more perfect cast of characters, from Mark Zuckerberg to the Winklevoss twins.  

He joked that Facebook, now one of America's biggest companies, started with a couple Harvard losers that were having no luck with the ladies.  "They were guys that couldn't find girls," he said.

The story was written because Eduardo Saverin reached out to Mezrich to tell him how he had been squeezed out by Sean Parker and others. "He was angry and a little drunk," Mezrich said.  Now that some level of ownership Saverin has been reinstated, bringing him a huge amount of money, Mezrich joked that he should at least get a gift basket.

Although Mezrich does not believe Zuckerberg is a big fan of his, he does hold Facebook in high regards.  He thinks it is necessary tool that has engrained itself into our society.

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