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by The Babe

"The Babe" is a dedicated Blackjack Tournament Competitor. He was attracted to the game at the start of the 80ís and has undoubtedly participated in more major blackjack tournaments than anybody. He has won his way to the televised tables of The Hilton Million Dollar II Tournament, the Ultimate Blackjack Tour on CBS, and the World Series of Blackjack on GSN. He still continues to compete, and has three major titles to his credit in the past two years.

In casino-style blackjack, the 17 is a relatively poor hand and a routine affair, but in tournament play, it can become your worst nightmare. This is the story of MY NIGHTMARE. It is also your opportunity to learn from my tournament playing experience, which could give your tournament game an added boost that may turn an early round loss into a win and a potential first place finish.

Last year, "All In" magazine ran my article titled, "That Terrible Tricky Tournament 17." It detailed one situation with a final hand of 17, where the double down proved to be a better play by about 1% over standing. I submitted this article to the editor of "All In" and was told it would be published in an upcoming issue that had the available space. Months went by and I quit thinking about it. One morning, on the very day of MY NIGHTMARE, I went to my e-mail address in-box and found an extensive edit of my article that was sent to me for approval. The editor was under time pressure and needed to get the copy to the printer before the end of the day. As I read the edited copy, I began to realize that all the new ideas that my editor had infused into the article were very good, but the facts had been altered and the players confused. In the next two or three hours, I re-wrote the whole thing, incorporating his new ideas, while clarifying the incidentals, and then sent it back to him. The editor quickly replied. He was happy with the new article, but very upset that he had to redo all the work he had just finished to prepare the copy. Who knows what mysterious things editors must do?

That very evening, I sat down at my first round tournament table in seat number 1. Two players will advance to round 2, and Ultimate Blackjack Tour rules apply: the starting bankroll was $25,000, the maximum bet was $25,000, the minimum bet was $500, the surrender rule was in force, and all players were allowed one "Secret Bet." Five of us were in our assigned seats waiting for the starting gun, with one more player yet to arrive. The last contender steps up, sits down in seat number 6, and who do you think it is? You guessed it! Itís none other than my editor, who happens to be Anthony Curtis, and by the way, he just happens to be one tough tournament competitor. What are the odds Iíd get him on my table?

"Oh well." I thought, "Iíve tangled with Anthony before, and this time Iím sitting in the seat following his action which gives me the advantage over him." But one thought keeps nagging at me, and I canít seem to shake it. After working on the article all day, he must think that I am the ultimate authority on the Tournament 17 hand. So. "Please Lord, DO NOT GIVE ME A 17!"

Flash forward to the final hand...

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