Well, the first season of the new Ultimate Blackjack Tour is a wrap.
In a long but very exciting week, filming finished up in late October at CBS Studios in Los Angeles. The more than $1 million in prize money was big news, but the real impact of these events will come once they hit TV. A new twist on the standard blackjack tournament format is guaranteed to spice up the game for television audiences.
The new format is called “Elimination-style blackjack” and it adds a simple but brutal twist to the game. In a 30-hand round, there are also 3 forced elimination hands on the way to the final hand. After hands 8, 16, and 25, the player at the table with the lowest bankroll remaining is immediately eliminated. That means there’s no more dozing off at the table for the first 20 hands of the round. With high-tension decisions every few hands, players have to scramble for position during the entire match. The whole format has a patent pending by the creators.
I’ve played a lot of tournament blackjack over the years, and I’ve never seen anything like this. These rounds were the toughest and most unforgiving of any I’ve ever played. I think that will translate into a real winner for TV. No word yet on when or where they will air, but this was a very elaborate production so it is sure to gain a lot of interest from the networks.
Next year we’ll see a number of developments from UBT, including satellite tournaments at both land-based and online casinos, where everyone has a shot at ending up playing for big bucks under the TV lights.
I’ve been trumpeting 2006 as a banner year for blackjack tournaments, and the UBT is one of the main reasons I believe our time has come. Move over poker, you’ve got company!