by The Babe
"The Babe" is a dedicated, long time, Blackjack Tournament Competitor. He was attracted to the game at the start of the 80’s and has undoubtedly participated in more major blackjack events than anyone. He learned the game the hard way…….from his own mistakes, and has greatly enjoyed the success of winning and the agony of losing.
What is a rip off and what is not? We are all so used to being ripped off that we don’t always bother to pay any attention. For instance, when we want something and the amount is small, we don’t care. One good example is the large bag of movie popcorn and coke ... about $11.00! RIP OFF! Another situation is the ‘"indirect type of rip off." If it is not happening right now, we may not even notice. For example, most every time your congress or senate meets, they are planning to take money from YOU. RIP OFF! Okay; what about blackjack tournaments?
Once upon a time all major blackjack tournaments were pretty much alike. Some had bigger fees and bigger prizes than others, but the rules were fairly standard. There was live money buy-ins for each round at various amounts from small to large. It was always single deck with two hands dealt per shuffle, and then later came tournaments that used a double deck.
I recall a huge meeting at the Riviera casino in Las Vegas, who was hosting the IGP tournaments. The house no longer wanted to deal the single-deck game and it was advertised as a double deck event. There were about 500 angry players there, who insisted that the format should be four hands dealt after every shuffle, while the house was only going to deal three hands. That part was not advertised! Players had been used to getting two hands per shuffle out of the single-deck tournament format for years, and logically, had assumed that they would get four hands (not three hands) from two decks. RIP OFF? Possibly, but one should never ASSUME anything, especially when it pertains to casinos looking for another little advantage to their bottom line.
Time passed and live money tournaments started to fade in favor of the fun money tournaments. There were many reasons for this, but I believe that casino greed was the primary cause. One might think they would make more by charging $100 to $600 for buy-ins every round, and most certainly they did, but not nearly as much as they thought they should. Most expected to profit the same as they would from a player at their regular table buying in for same amount. These managers never factored in the reality that most blackjack players just keep playing until their buy in is completely lost, while tournament players had only 30 or 60 hands to play. It is also true that a larger percentage of tournament players were smarter than average, resulting in a lower average percentage of profit. Couple this with a greater risk of getting hit hard on ‘hot’ tournament tables where competitors would keep increasing the size of bets to catch up to each other. In the end, the casinos settled for no profit with fun money, rather than a little profit with real money. That makes little sense to me!
Other reasons to ease into fun-money events became obvious. As the casinos moved toward worse tournament rules that included the six and eight deck shoes, less and less hands played per round, and hit soft 17, more players became justifiably squeamish about paying for big buy-ins. Worse rules resulted in smaller turnouts, and smaller turnouts resulted in more inventive ways to extract a profit from each participant.
One example is...
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