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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 has continued his overall tournament accomplishments with a recent 2nd place finish in the Las Vegas Hilton $100,000 Dice Tournament, and his multiple recent cashes in poker tournaments in the 2009 Wildhorse Resort and Casino Spring Poker Round Up held in Pendleton, Oregon, and also at Binions and Treasure Island in Las Vegas. He recently finished second and won $10,000 in a craps tournament in Biloxi, and he hosts the "House of Pane" message board on His peers consider him to be one of the strongest and most feared blackjack tournament players on the circuit.


In last month's article in the BJI, I published the quiz given to the invited blackjack pros and authors who attended this yearís exclusive Blackjack Ball. Because you have a membership in the Blackjack Insider newsletter, you have the next best thing to actually being there. You have me there making a fool of myself by having the lowest test score in the room. Now, I could make an excuse and say I just flew in from spending the holidays in New York City and was jet lagged. I could also say I was still hung over from a wild New Years Eve (the Blackjack Ball was held on Jan 3rd) but the real truth is I just had a brain fart on this night. In previous Blackjack Balls, my scores has always been average or above average, and just two years ago my score was high enough to land me on the final table of this prestigious event. But it was not my night this time.

After you compare your answers to the answers to this yearís test questions, donít worry if your score was down in the single digits because this yearís test was, in my opinion, the toughest of any of the years that I have been attending. You usually need somewhere between 14 to15 correct answers to be the last to qualify for the right to have a seat on the final table. Well, at this yearís party the lowest qualifying score was 11 correct out of 21, which only works out to be a conversion rate of just 52% correct out of the 21 test questions.

The last seat awarded on the final table went down to a Tie Breaker because eight players tied with 11 correct answers. Therefore, the tiebreaker question that I added to the test came into play to determine who would get the final seat.

The player who won the tiebreaker has been at multiple final tables in this event, and has won it at least two times that Iím aware of. He is Richard Munchkin, a well-know advantage player and blackjack author, and this spelled trouble for the other five players who scored more than Munchkin during the test portion of this event. (And he should be the favorite to win yet another Blackjack Ball final table.)

This yearís final table had a few new categories for the players to traverse. One was a sign of the current times as host Max Rubin had a big screen TV brought in, a Wii game was set up, and the players were slugging it out trying to avoid elimination as a Wii boxing match pitted the players against each other. Now we all know that boxing has nothing to do with advantage play but leave it up to Max to always have some sort of surprise for this crowd. He is aware that the invitees will prepare for his contest but no one could expect him to break out the Wii game as a way of separating the players.

When the final table was down to three players, it was no surprised that Munchkin was among the three remaining. The other two players was sports handicapper Fessik, who just completed a first by winning the Las Vegas Hilton football contest two years in a row, and the last remaining player, who is known as "Big Player"

This yearís final table also had a wrinkle from the TV show Survivor. After a player won a category, he could vote another player off the table if that player didnít have an immunity pass. When Big Player won a category (when they were three handed), everyone in the room was certain that he would use his vote to banish Munchkin from the table. But to everyoneís disbelief, he snuffed out Fessikís torch and banned him instead.

Now Big Player and Munchkin was heads up and everyone in the room knew what the eventual outcome would (or should be). Everyone except "Big Player," who quickly took Munchkin down and was crowned this year Blackjack Ball Champion. The win earns him bragging rights among a select group of advantage players. It also earns him secret information on a specific game from blackjack pro James Grosjean that has a potential to earn Big Player at least a five-figure payday.

If you are interest in additional background on Richard Munchkin you can access it with this link:

Ever year at the Blackjack Ball, one person is inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame and this yearís inductee was Darryl Purpose, a long time blackjack player who is also an accomplished musician. Here is an article about Darryl and another advantage playerís trip to Aruba.

For additional information on the Blackjack Hall of Fame, you can use the following link for a list of all members including some background info on the Hallís members.

Answers to 2010 Blackjack Ball Test

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