Robert Luketic has signed on to to direct the casino-set thriller, 21 for Columbia Pictures.

The film is based on the Ben Mezrich best-selling nonfiction book Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions; it revolves around a group of young men who become experts in the art of card counting. According to Production Weekly, Kevin Spacey optioned the book in 2002 after reading an excerpt of it in Playboy; he'll also star in the film.

It's the amazing inside story about a gambling ring of M.I.T. students who beat the system in Vegas - and lived to tell how. Robin Hood meets the Rat Pack when the best and the brightest of M.I.T.'s math students and engineers take up blackjack under the guidance of an eccentric mastermind. Their small blackjack club develops from an experiment in counting cards on M.I.T.'s campus into a ring of card savants with a system for playing large and winning big. In less than two years they take some of the world's most sophisticated casinos for more than three million dollars. But their success also brings with it the formidable ire of casino owners and launches them into the seedy underworld of corporate Vegas with its private investigators and other violent heavies.

Peter Steinfeld is adapting the screenplay of 21; production begins in February in and around Boston and Las Vegas.