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"YOU ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR FIRST"

by Sammy Vaughn

 

Sammy Vaughn is a long-time successful tournament player, who finished first and won a million dollars in a Las Vegas Hilton Million Dollar Blackjack Tournament. In his column, Sammy writes about anything he damn well wants to write about.

"You always remember your first." This is a universal true fact. It is also true that very few want to hear yours. If I promise not to regale you with my prowess at sex or tournaments will you please read mine?

This story is about blackjack tournaments, circa 1989, and the events surrounding them. The Four Queens casino in downtown Las Vegas ran the best tournaments at this time (and in my opinion, the best tournaments ever). The Stardust tournaments had not surfaced yet and all the crap shooters were saying that the blackjack and craps tournaments that were being run by IGP had a killer drag for the house. Perhaps our beloved editor Henry Tamburin will comments on the 80s action. (From the Editor: I lived in NJ when IGP started their tournaments in Atlantic City. They were packed with players but the AC casinos were already mobbed with players and they didnít see a whole lot of value in tournaments. Their tournaments soon died.)

Almost everything in the Four Queenís tournament was great starting with the two beautiful young ladies that managed this well run ship. The buy-in was $300 with guaranteed rebuys. First prize was fifty grand guaranteed. You had a $300 live money buy-in for the first rounds and $500 for the final round. The betting minimum was $5 and the max was $300. Forty hands were dealt. They didnít offer surrender but all the rest of the rules were liberal. Two players advanced per table until the semi-final round (where only one player advanced).

All was going great except for my fear that all the other players were experienced in tournament play and better than me. But not quite everything was great: the prize structure after third place was very scary. The sixth pace winner got $400, fifth got $600, but the fourth place winner got a whopping grand. With a $500 live money buy in for the final round, you can see why I said it was scary.

An often repeated happening that led to my success for several years in real money tournaments was this: If less than the cash buy in was enough to win, than old Sammy Vaughn was usually around. (I made it to the semi-final round).

When the semi-finale round finally arrived in the Four Queens tournament I still hadnít played against any of those crap shooters that I really feared. In the semi-final round, three of the players were very aggressive and, happily for me, they busted out at the half way point. I was playing between two tall young guys that looked like they could be brothers. I was the most conservative player on the table and their bankroll went up and down but always seemed to stay just ahead of me. When they finally announced that only 10 hands remained in the round, I realized I would be on the button on the last hand and would have to bet first so I started to bet more aggressively to get the lead.

My moves were fairly successful and I finally got a...

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