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by Joe Pane

 Joe Pane is a skilled advantage blackjack player, and an experienced tournament player who has won over a million dollars in blackjack tournaments. Joe is the #1 ranked tournament player in the country and was named 2007 Player of the Year by Las Vegas Advisor publisher Anthony Curtis. In Joe's last 11 tournaments in 2007-2008, he made the final tables eight times and won two of them for an impressive 73% final table appearance rate with just over $225,000 won in the past 12 months. Joe is also the Assistant Director of Tour Operations for the Ultimate Blackjack Tour (UBT), as well as the Team UBT Coordinator. He is co-host of the radio show, "Queens vs. Kings Ė Itís All About Position" on His peers consider him to be one of the strongest and most feared blackjack tournament players on the circuit.

James Grosjean Barred from the Blackjack Ball

Every year Max Rubinís invites the most feared advantage players in the world to a secret location in Las Vegas for the annual Blackjack Ball. At this gathering, guests are put to the test to find out who will win the coveted Blackjack Ball Cup. As a member of the Blackjack Insider Newsletter, you will have the privilege to test your casino/blackjack skills with the very same test that was given to this group of illustrious blackjack pros just a few days ago in Las Vegas.

This gathering of carefully selected players has to be cleared first by the Blackjack Ball Committee, which consist of members of the Blackjack Hall of Fame, before they are sent the e-mailed invitation to the Ball. These invited players have kept many surveillance directors awake late into the night (not to mention on their toes and scratching their heads) trying to figure out just what they are doing to crush their casinos games. I say "games" because these pros just donít card count; instead, they carefully analyze every game that a casino puts on their floor. If there is a "hole in the armor of a game," (i.e., an opportunity that will give them the edge using a specific playing strategy), trust me, they will find it, and they will crush the game.

As you would expect, this is not your run of the mill gambling crowd at the Blackjack Ball. No, this gathering consists of some of the most feared blackjack players ever to step foot inside a casino (Max Rubin once estimated that collectively, the guests at the Ball "easily earn at least $10 million a year playing cards"). One player who is on every casinoís Public Enemy List is none other than James Grosjean, who has had his share of barring and physical abuse by casinos. His action is not welcome in most casinos, but he continues to play because he is a master of disguise (and they are really unsure at what the "real" James Grosjean looks like). Even if they figured out his disguise this week, the following week he will appear totally different.

Grosjeanís brilliant mind has not only gotten him barred from casinos around the world, but also from participating in this yearís Blackjack Ball Test. The reason is because even with all brilliant blackjack minds assembled at the Ball, Grosjean has won the contest three times, and the Blackjack Ball Committee has ruled his "ACTION" is not wanted.

But unlike the blood-sucking casinos, the Blackjack Ball Committee acknowledges James accomplishments in the advantage playerís community by renaming the Blackjack Cup (that is won by the winner of the contest) to the Grosjean Cup. They also bestowed the honor on him of preparing the majority of this year questions that were given in the Test. So be prepared to be quizzed by the master himself (try answering the questions to the Test at the end of this article).

This yearís winner of the Grosjean Cup also received a very special gift. The winner, and only the winner, was given the name of a casino and a specific game that is on Grosjeanís secret list of games than can, and will be, beaten for over six figures in a very short period of time. With this golden carrot being dangled in front of us, every pro at the Ball was fighting to win this event and receive some great inside information on this game that had an expected win of over $100,000.

Every year at the Blackjack Ball, there is a secret voting process that allows the attendees to cast their vote to determine which colleague will be elected to the prestigious Blackjack Hall of Fame. The day after the Ball, Max Rubin sent the following email to all the players that voted in the election summarizing who was elected to the Blackjack Hall of Fame, and who won the coveted Grosjean Cup.


Greeting fellow practioners of the craft.

Last night Richard Munchkin was chosen by his colleagues as the newest member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Anyone who is in the know about blackjack and understands Munchkinís mind-boggling intelligence, creativity, honesty and long history of liberating chips from unsuspecting casinos, agreed that his induction to the Hall was long overdue.

"Honcho," representing the "French Team," wrenched the title of "Worldís Greatest Blackjack Player" from Munchkin, who came in second, while taking home the coveted "Grosjean Cup," which is named after the most dominant blackjack player and Blackjack Ball competitor in history (sadly, Max had to tell James, "Sir, youíre welcome to eat and drink at the Ball, but youíre just too good for the rest of the players and you canít play here any more").

As a new tradition, James also "gave up" one of his secret games, along with the strategy to beat it, to the "Grosjean Cup" winner and we expect Honcho to burn out said game up within the next ten days.

By all accounts it was the greatest Blackjack Ball ever. We hope that all of you can join us for the festivities next year.




Blackjack Ball 2009

Round One Questions


You have 20 seconds to answer each question. You canít use a calculator or refer to any book...

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