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3 Balls Golf

BlackjackInfo News: Issue 21C - February 11, 2004

This Issue includes:

About my coverage of finals

Detailing the last few hands of blackjack tournament finals has been a popular addition to my coverage of these events. I've received a lot of feedback about this information, and many players enjoy the detailed information. But I am sensitive to one downside of the process.

Making the decisions in these events is tough, often very tough. Playing for substantial amounts of money, in front of a crowd of onlookers, deciding how much to bet and how best to play the hand can be a harrowing experience. For many players, knowing that their decisions will be scrutinized after the round can add to their nervousness, and that makes me more than a little uncomfortable.

The number one job of everyone involved in these events should be to have fun! My advice is to not let the seriousness of the game prevent you from enjoying it. Having said that, I'll commit to making my commentary about final table decisions focus on the positive items. All the detail is there if the more dedicated readers want to work out which moves were brilliant and which were mistakes. I'll continue to use the final hand events to point out items that I think are instructional, but I don't want to make this a forum for highlighting errors. We all make them. I very rarely look closely at one of my rounds without finding mistakes I've made, and I've yet to meet a player that could say otherwise about his or her own play.

If you want to play this game at the highest level, it can be extremely complicated. But you don't have to know anything about advanced strategies to play these events and have a great time. And, you'll have a darned good chance of winning just by being there. Have fun and relax. After all, it's just a card game!

Stardust 2nd round results

My second round turned into a wild shootout, with big stacks of chips around the table. The good news is I cashed out $1145 from the table, which is a $545 live money profit. Unfortunately, that's the only good news, as I failed to advance out of round two.

As rumored yesterday, the format for round two was a rough one, with only one player advancing from each table of seven competitors. The dealer at my table started the round by busting several hands in a row, and the chip stacks around me had already started to build up a lead over my minimum bet wins.

In the last few hands, I managed a few large bet wins to get back in the hunt. By the third to last hand, my bankroll had increased to over $1000, but the leader had just over $1200. I tried to take the lead with a bet of more than $200, but lost the bet, putting me back in the middle of the pack, in maybe fourth place. On the next to last hand, I knew I needed a big win, so I placed a max bet of $300. A blackjack brought me a $450 win and the lead going into the final hand!

For the last hand, I was third to bet and act. Here are the specifics of the five remaining players, starting at the button:

PlayerBankrollBet
Player A$1270$130
Player B$642.5$300
Player C (Me)$1340$195
Player D$1217.5$300
Player E$1100$300

I am fairly pleased with my bet, though I'm actually not certain it was optimal. I kept an extra $5 chip back over the unbet chips of Player A. Still, my $195 bet allows me to beat a single bet win by anyone. My main problem here is that I can be beaten by a double down win by either player D or E. However, I didn't have the luxury of seeing their $300 bets before making my decision. I think my bet is the best choice here, because this game is dealt face down. Even if I had placed a larger bet, so that I could double-down and beat possible doubles behind me, I wouldn't know whether my opponents playing behind me had a good double-down hand or not. Because of that, I like the play I made. It gave me guaranteed first-high if no one doubled, and it gave me guaranteed second-low with a good chance of having first-low. As it turns out, since Player D bet $300, I had first-high and first-low.

(Wondering what "first high" and "second low" mean? Read this.)

Once the cards were dealt, I had a hard 18 facing a dealer 9. I tucked the cards, and started worrying about doubles. When Player D played his hand, he drew a 7 and then tucked. I figured he had a decent hand, since he likely would have doubled if he had started with 10 or 11. I hoped he had a weak total, but I was worried. Player E made an excellent play, doubling his hard 12. However, he busted, and that took the pressure off me. I now had both first-high and first-low. If the dealer busts or makes 17, I win my bet and win the table. If the dealer makes a good hand and beats everyone at the table, I still win the table. The only thing I can't afford is for Player E to have a better hand than me, and the dealer to end up with a total in between us. Unfortunately, since I'm holding 18 looking at a dealer 9, the dealer 19 is a textbook example of this possibility.

The final moment was upon us, and the dealer flipped over a ten in the hole. My 18 had lost. Still, my fate hinged on the as yet unrevealed hand of Player D. He hadn't yet given any indication about his result. If his total was 18 or less, I still win the table. However, my fears of his hand were justified. He had hit a 14 and drawn his 7 making 21. He wins the hand, I lose the hand, and he wins the table.

It was quite a finish. I was mentally exhausted after the round, because I had concentrated intensely, keeping the various bankrolls in my head. Had I managed to win that last hand, I would have won a seat in the third round, with a great chance of making the finals. In round three, there were only two tables of seven players each. Three players from each table advanced to the finals.

The Stardust event is over now, and the winner of the final table is a friend of mine "JM". He played the final round masterfully, winning the event by insuring his max bet on the final hand. The dealer had the blackjack, and handed him the title, along with $75,000. He's a deserving winner, and a genuinely charming individual. I just wish I'd been at the final table with him. It's tough to win these events. Only one player out of the 200 gets to go home with the big check. The rest of us just hope for another shot in the next one.

For the Stardust event, my nice cashout from the second table helped on expenses. The entire Stardust event cost me $107.50, which is my $375 entry fee less the $267.50 in buy-in profits. I had a great time in this tournament, with exciting tables and a very close call to play in round three. Maybe next time!

The Frontier event starts tomorrow

Bright and early in the morning, I'll be over at the Frontier getting my table assignments for that popular event. It also is a live money event, with a $300 entry fee and a $300 buy-in per table. Betting limits are $5 to $100, and re-entries are available as space permits for $150. The format there is nice because two players advance from every table all the way to the finals. However, that means it is a 5 round tournament compared to the 4 rounds at the Stardust. It can be a bit of a marathon.

I'll let you know how things go tomorrow.

Time for some fun

I've been working way too hard in Las Vegas. In addition to these newsletters, I had several other writing commitments that have kept me busy while I wasn't on the tournament tables. Tonight I think I'll take a break and go have some fun. I'll try to get in some blackjack somewhere, and I may head over to the Palms for some video poker. I've yet to visit the Palms, so it's been on my list all week.

Today's table results weren't a profit center either. I won a little at Video Poker, but lost that back in a brief stay at the craps table. My loss for the day is $180. I hope that changes tonight.


Last of all, thanks again for the very kind emails many of you have sent. They are much appreciated. See ya, -Ken-


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