a list compiled by Alex Kasman (College of Charleston)

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21 (2008)
Robert Luketic (Director)

As I understand it, the book by Ben Mezrich which inspired this film is non-fiction. It told the true story (though using pseudonyms) of a team comprised of an MIT math professor and six MIT students who used card counting to win lots of money in casinos. This film takes that story and "sexes" it up with more background story, violence and Hollywood actors. Having never read the book nor seen the movie, I cannot say how much they actually say about mathematics in either. But, I'm hoping that if I post this "stub" here someone more interested in gambling than me will write in with useful information. (Click here to send me a comment about this film.)

Contributed by Edward Janiszewski

the premise of counting cards (high-low) is as they say in the movie "simple math". One scene in the movie shows actual math. The beginning scene is at MIT in a senior level "non-linear equations class". It is interesting because they talk about Newton, Raphson and their methods for solutions of non-linear equations and finding true zero. While the conversation/lingo is quite correct, the board behind Kevin Spacey shows only 1st and 2nd order equations, hardly something for a senior level class (not to mention at MIT!), but still all-in-all pretty damn good for Hollywood!

Contributed by Shelia

The movie is called "21" However, I believe the title of the book is "Bringing Down the House"

More information about this work can be found at
(Note: This is just one work of mathematical fiction from the list. To see the entire list or to see more works of mathematical fiction, return to the Homepage.)

Works Similar to 21
According to my `secret formula', the following works of mathematical fiction are similar to this one:
  1. Teen Patti by Leena Yadav (Director)
  2. Qui perd gagne! by Laurent Bénégui (Director)
  3. Seven Wonders by Ben Mezrich
  4. Drop by Lisa Papademitriou
  5. The Last Casino by Pierre Gill (director) / Steven Westren (screenplay)
  6. Silent Cruise by Timothy Taylor
  7. Improbable by Adam Fawer
  8. The Mystic Cipher by Dennis Mangrum
  9. God Doesn't Shoot Craps by Richard Armstrong
  10. Ghost Dancer by John Case
Ratings for 21:
RatingsHave you seen/read this work of mathematical fiction? Then click here to enter your own votes on its mathematical content and literary quality or send me comments to post on this Webpage.
Mathematical Content:
3/5 (3 votes)
Literary Quality:
3/5 (3 votes)


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May 2016: I am experimenting with a new feature which will print a picture of the cover and a link to the page for a work of mathematical fiction when it is available. I hope you find this useful and convenient. In any case, please write to let me know if it is because I would be happy to either get rid of it or improve it if that would be better for you. Thanks! -Alex

(Maintained by Alex Kasman, College of Charleston)