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BlackjackInfo News: Issue 29 - January 18, 2006

This Issue includes:

World Series of Blackjack 2006

For the third straight year, GSN will be producing their show World Series of Blackjack. But, this year, there is a big change. Instead of being invitation-only, most of the 40 seats in the $1 Million dollar event will be awarded through satellite tournaments at casinos all around the country.

These events have already been going on, and there are actually only a few chances left. Get going now, and try to win yourself a seat. The finals will be filmed at the Las Vegas Hilton in late February and early March. The top prize will be a fantastic $500,000!

Several casinos participated in the satellite system but some of the events are already complete while others were by invitation only to that casino's VIP list. I recommend these four venues for anyone still looking for a place to play:

  • Ute Mountain Casino, Towaoc Colorado: Awards the last of three seats in an event this weekend, Jan 21st.
  • Casino Del Sol, Tucson Arizona: Has weekly events on Thursday to qualify for a final in early February.
  • Cherokee Casino, Tulsa Oklahoma: Twice-weekly events at three different casinos to award a seat in February.
  • Mystic Lake Casino, Prior Lake Minnesota: Two more weeks left in qualifying events.

I'm personally headed to the Ute Mountain event this weekend, trying to secure a seat for myself. If you'd like to ask more question about these events, you'll find a lot of discussion about WSOB 2006 on the message boards at our sister site BlackjackTournaments.com.

So, what if you can't get away to one of the qualifiers, or what if you've tried but did not win a seat. All is not lost. There are two more possible ways to be one of the lucky 40 players competing for $1 Million in prizes.

GSN and AOL have announced a joint project launching the AOL World Series of Blackjack site. Starting Thursday January 19th at Noon, you'll be able to enter a sweepstakes at that site which will send 8 winners to compete in a playoff in Las Vegas. Two of the eight participants will win a seat onto the big show, and a shot at the big prize money.

Last of all, there will still be a handful of seats filled by invitation. That's where you can directly contact GSN and sell them on why you should be a player on their show. Here's the scoop, direct from GSN:

Attention World Class Blackjack Players!

The WORLD SERIES of BLACKJACK 2006 is looking for the best of the best in blackjack tournament players, to compete in this year's World Series for a share of the $1 million purse. There are very limited invitations remaining. If you would like to be considered for this prestigious event, please send your tournament credentials and a recent picture to: (email no longer available)

Due to the limited number of remaining seats, we suggest that you submit ASAP.

So, there you go. That's everything you need to join the ranks of the world's premier players under the spotlight. Good luck!

Long time, no newsletter!

It's been almost 6 months since the last issue of this newsletter, so I'm glad to finally be sending out another. While much of the reason for the delay is just typical procrastination, it has also been a pretty hectic six months. During that time I've been traveling quite a bit, playing several significant blackjack tournaments along the way. In August, I headed off on one of those trips, leaving my home in Mississippi, parking my car at the New Orleans airport, and boarding a plane for Las Vegas.

Not unusual for that time of year, there was a storm brewing out in the Gulf of Mexico. Unfortunately, that storm kept strengthening over the next few days, and turned into the monster Hurricane Katrina. By the time it was clear that the storm was headed directly for the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi, all flights into the New Orleans airport had been cancelled. I tried several other possibilities, but there was just no way I could fly home before the storm hit. My home is in South Mississippi about 70 miles inland from the Gulf. Being that far inland, evacuation isn't usually necessary, so I really wanted to get back to my wife and son to weather the storm at home. But that just wasn't going to happen. Instead, I was stuck in Las Vegas, glued to the TV screens as the storm came ashore.

I spoke to my wife briefly as the storm worsened in our area. She called from her cellphone while taking shelter in an interior bathroom. She described the fierce sustained winds they were getting, and the sound of tree after tree falling in the yard. In the middle of that call, we were cut off, and that's the last contact I had with my family while in Las Vegas. Like so many countless others, after the storm passed I tried calling anyone I could think of in the storm area, and always I would get one of a handful of messages that my call couldn't be completed.

A day and a half after the storm, I was finally able to fly into Memphis and rent a car for the 300 mile drive back to my home. The last 90 mile section of the highway was actually open only to emergency vehicles, but I was arriving so late that the roadblocks weren't up. Just south of Jackson in the center of Mississippi, I left the last areas with electricity. The rest of my drive would be into complete darkness. Fortunately, just before I got out of range of the last working cell tower, I was able to check my voice mail one more time, and I had a brief message from my sister-in-law, indicating that everyone was fine. Even with no further details, that was a real relief.

Once I got to my hometown of Hattiesburg, it took a while to find roads clear enough of trees, debris and downed power lines to reach my family. Finally, in the middle of the night, I knocked on the door and was happily greeted by my family, with everyone safe and sound. Even so, with no electricity or running water and no sign that either would be restored anytime soon, we elected to get up the next morning and head North. Gasoline was in short supply, but we were able to gather enough to be sure we could make it back out of the storm area without running dry. Once we got back into an area where cellphones would work, I called and arranged a comped week-long stay at one of the Tunica casinos. (Thanks Resorts!)

We stayed in Tunica for almost the entire week, finally heading back down with a carload of supplies. We knew the water had been restored, though it wasn't suitable for drinking yet, and amazingly, our power was restored on the very night that we returned home. It was out for only 8 or 9 days. The power crews from all over the country did an awesome job of rebuilding the entire infrastructure. There's no doubt that me and my family were very lucky. Our house survived the storm with only minor damage, despite the loss of around 300 trees in our yard! The clean-up has been ongoing ever since, but things are much better now. As for my car in the New Orleans airport parking garage, it was fine, though it was several weeks before I could retrieve it.

While our personal situation was fortunate, so many others are still struggling in the aftermath. Further South, the devastation is complete and indescribably vast. I have a few extended family members who suffered the brunt of the storm. A cousin's family and a nephew's family both lost all of their possessions to the storm, returning in one case to nothing but a bare slab where the house had been.

So, that's part of the reason why you haven't heard from me lately. But, hey, everyone here is safe, and life is good. I'm glad to be back.

MIT Blackjack Team story on TV

The well-known MIT Blackjack Team is the subject of another new show, this time on GSN. The show actually premiered last night, but will be repeated several times this week. The show is part of a series called "Anything to Win", and this week's episode tells the tale of the student group that won millions from casinos by creating a team of card counters.

Notable in this production are some interviews with key members of the team, without disguises this time. John Chang and Mike Aponte both appear in the show, and discuss the team at length. It's well worth a watch. Check your local schedule for showings in the next few days. Though the times may differ from East Coast and West Coast, the GSN website has this show airing again Thursday at 10 PM, and also at 6 PM on both Saturday and Sunday.

New Multi-Hand Blackjack game online

Online casinos powered by the popular MicroGaming software platform have long been known for regularly releasing new games each month. In most cases, the new games are video slots. While they do have some very entertaining slot games, blackjack players often feel a little left out of the goodies. However, a recent release was aimed straight at the 21 fans.

The new game is 'Multi-Hand Las Vegas Strip Blackjack'. MicroGaming casinos offer several different varieties of blackjack, but the sharpest players have always stuck to the Vegas Strip variety, as it offers the lowest house edge of the choices. Now, they've brought that popular game to a new level by offering it in a multi-hand format, where you can play anywhere from 1 to 5 hands at a time.

The rules of the game are pretty good. It's dealt from 4 decks, the dealer stands on all 17s, double after split is allowed, and it is a full US-style "peek" game, so you know if the dealer has blackjack before playing out your hands. That all adds up to a house edge of around 0.36%. Here's a hint to reduce even that cost very slightly:

If you bet multiple hands, you'll have just a little more information available about how best to play your hands. Since the shoe is reshuffled after each round, don't expect much, but it can help a little. Let's say you have the classic coin-flip hand of 16 vs a dealer ten. This hand is so close a call that the cards on the table impact the best play. If you see more small cards on the table, stand. If you see more big cards on the table, hit.

Dice control book available in store

Just a quick note to let you know that Frank Scoblete and Dominator's new book Golden Touch Craps Dice Control Revolution is now available for sale in the BlackjackInfo store. More and more players are telling me they're making money at the craps table these days. Who-da thunk it?! (Editor's note: This is no longer sold in the store, due to a combination of lack of interest, and general skepticism on my part!)

That's it for now. Best of luck, online and off! -Ken-