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By Monkeysystem


Monkeysystem has been playing advantage blackjack recreationally for many years.  Early in his career he used High-low and AOII, and then simplified things, switching to Knockout a few years ago and getting better results.  He started playing tournaments in 2004 and has cashed in several. In the fall of 2007, Monkeysystem moved to North Carolina for a year, but has now returned home to Wisconsin. In this article heíll discuss a few of the issues concerning deals and backers, go into some strategy, and share with you some of his tournament experiences this past year. With the exception of Rick Jensen, the names of people mentioned in this article have been replaced with online monikers they use on

A little over a year ago my real-world career took me to a part of the country where blackjack tournaments donít exist Ė North Carolina. The nearest tournament venue for me was Atlantic City and I never made the eight-hour drive. I was in a financial bind, and didnít think I would be playing any blackjack tournaments for a while. Fortunately, I was wrong. Opportunity knocked a few times, and Iím very happy it did.

Just before I left my native Midwest for North Carolina, I participated in the Blackjack Blowout tournament at Kewadin-St. Ignace in Michigan. This is my favorite blackjack tournament. Those of you who would have to fly in to play there may not consider this event big enough, or the table games high enough, to merit the expense. I say give St. Ignace a try anyway. Itís a great vacation.

The new casino is a beautiful venue and the tournament package is great. For an entry fee of $250 for one player, or $400 for two, you get a guaranteed $30,000 tournament with three nights in the hotel, tokens for special slot machines, food coupons, and other goodies. They expect only a very small amount of side play during the three days. This tournament is very well run, and has a good format. Deanne the host, and Ernie and Peggy the tournament directors, all do a great job and are very helpful. The tournament format is two-advance with one $100 rebuy opportunity. The semifinals are one-advance. BJís pay 2:1. There are 42 hands per round, which is more than usual and favors skilled players. In every round you get one "power chip," which you can use to replace a hit card right after receiving it, but not the two cards in your starting hand. Double down cards are dealt face down, but you can opt to peek at them and decide if you want to replace them or not with the power chip. A lot of players like to peek at their double down cards even though they have no intention of using their power chip on that turn. Double down cards on stiff hands are dealt face up. If you replace a double down card on a stiff hand with your power chip, the replacement is dealt face down. In fact, if you take a hit and decide to play your power chip, the replacement card is dealt face down, and you can peek at it and then make a hit-stand decision.

My roommate was a player from Minnesota named Joseph, though confined to a wheelchair, has a huge heart and is always hitting on the girls. He brought his guitar, and played and sang for our group while we enjoyed drinks one night in the fireplace alcove between the casino and hotel. What a wonderful, memorable night! Joseph, if youíre reading this, letís be roommates at St. Ignace again!

I made it to the quarterfinals in this tournament. On my last hand, the following situation came up...

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