I’m just back from a blackjack tournament at the Sheraton Casino in Tunica, Mississippi. The venue was new, but the tournament was a familiar one. The former table games manager from Bally’s Tunica has relocated to the Sheraton, and he brought the popular tournaments from that property along with him.
Participation was pretty strong for a first-time event at this casino, with 163 players buying in to the $500 entry fee tournament. The casino paid out over $106,000 in prize money, including an extra $25,000 added to all the entry fees collected. That extra bonus money is a standard feature of these events, and that makes this series of events among the best deals in tournament blackjack. I’m looking forward to their next event, sometime in April or May. They’re shooting for 200 players, and I’m betting they’ll get there.
My own play in the tournament was pretty exciting today. I competed in the semifinal round at 9 AM this morning. The format was for one player of the six at our table to advance to the final table. I gained the chip lead with several hands to go and held on until the finish. On the very last hand there were only three of us left. I had $1927.50 and my nearest competition had only $805. He went all-in, and the only risk I had was if he drew a blackjack. I bet $125, to make sure a win by me would cover his blackjack, but I didn’t need it. When his first card dealt was a four, I was assured a seat at the final table.
At the final table, there were 7 players competing for the prize pool, with first place taking home $50,000. By the middle of the round, my friend Robert Blechman of California had taken a lead of a few hundred dollars. I lost a few hundred dollars of my starting $1000 bankroll chasing him with middle sized bets. With 12 hands remaining of the 25 to be played, I was down to only $600. After seeing Blechman’s bet on that hand, I calculated that a win of his $40 bet would take him to a total bankroll of $1187.50. If I moved all-in now, I could take a $12.50 lead if the dealer pays us both. With 12 hands left, that’s earlier than I am usually willing to risk all my chips, but I decided this might be my last chance to take the lead with one bet.
I moved all-in for $600, but never even got to play the hand. The dealer had a blackjack, and I finished in 7th place. I collected $1500 for my efforts, which is certainly a far cry from the $50,000 that Blechman eventually took home for first place. Still, I think my decisions were sound, and I’d make the same choice again. You just can’t do anything about the way the cards fall. All you can do is make the best choices along the way and hope that Lady Luck smiles when you need her.
It’s worth noting that of the 7 finalists, at least 4 of them are regular visitors to the sister site of BlackjackInfo.com. Check out BlackjackTournaments.com.
If you decide to come to Mississippi in April or May for the next Sheraton event, be sure to tell the table games manager Adolf that Ken Smith sent ya. And, be sure to introduce yourself as well. I’ll be there, hoping to do better than 7th place.
Good cards, -Ken-