HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
by Kenneth R Smith
Ken Smith is considered by his peers to be one of the best tournament blackjack players. He is the author of the new e-book.How to Win More Blackjack Tournaments: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies to Supercharge Your Game. Ken hosts the popular website www.BlackjackInfo.com as well as the online tournament community at www.BlackjackTournaments.com. He has appeared on TV in all four seasons of GSN's World Series of Blackjack, the Las Vegas Hilton Million Dollar Championship II finals, and in the Ultimate Blackjack Tour. You can subscribe to his free email newsletter at http://www.blackjackinfo.com/news/.
Last weekend I returned for the first time in several years to a tournament venue which will likely always be my personal favorite. Back in 1992, the Isle of Capri Casino in Biloxi was the very first casino to open in the state of Mississippi. Within a couple of years the area was home to several casinos, and blackjack tournaments were a staple in their marketing efforts. Weekly events at several casinos featured a $10,000 prize pool for a $50 entry fee. It was truly a tournament lovers dream. The Isle had a weekly event with a modest $10 entry fee affair but their prize pools were tiny compared to their competitors.
However, three times a year, the Isle outdid them all, hosting the largest events of the area. With a $100 entry fee and a $20,000 prize pool, these events were popular, and usually filled up to the 210 player limit. While these events hardly qualified as major tournaments, they were much anticipated by the local players. In February each year was the Mardi Gras tournament. Then in June the event would be a summer theme. The third and final event each year was a Halloween-themed tournament.
I started playing these events in the October tournament of 1994. A first place win there was followed up by my winning two out of three events in 1995, and one win each in 1996 and 1997. With first place victories in five of my ten attempts, I began to consider the Isle my retirement plan! You should be able to tell why this is my all-time favorite tournament site. Success has a way of doing that. All good things must pass I suppose, and so it was with these tournaments. The Isle stopped holding them after 1997, and in fact many of the excellent tournaments disappeared from the area around that time. The culprits I'm sure were the usual. Tournament players weren't making these events profitable for the casino any more, so they transitioned to invitational events, which is a trend that continues to this day.
While the Isle has occasionally run some smaller events in recent years, I've attended them only once or twice. With a recent increase in my play there, I started to receive some invitations to various events. That's how I ended up last weekend in a $15,000 prize pool tournament there. With only a $5,000 first place prize, it was a small event, but it was free, and it fit reasonably with my schedule. Attendance was also limited to only 72 players, so it was a good shot at picking up some prize money.
The Isle still has their one-of-a-kind rule that requires players to...
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