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ADVANTAGE PLAY THOUGHTS AND

A BIG BLACKJACK TOURNAMENT SURPRISE

by Timmer

Timmer is an advantage blackjack and craps player. He lives in the Midwest and plays blackjack and craps throughout the country.

 

I recently had another wonderful opportunity to travel deep into the heart of Dixie for a casino trip and pleasurable get-together with a group of my advantage play buddies. It seems like on these trips, Iím always fortunate to meet and make a new friend or two along the way as well! What really makes these casino trips especially enjoyable (besides winning!) are the various personalities that make our core group at these casino get-togethers so cohesive and close knit. Iíve also realized that my trips with pleasant people are also some of my most profitable!

Having such a light-hearted, relaxed, and easy-going bunch of guys (and gals) to hang out with simply makes the time and atmosphere at the tables all the more pleasant. Of course, the conversation, jokes, and resulting laughter, while lingering over coffee, cocktails, or a meal, is priceless. It is especially rewarding to talk about, and dissect, the dayís play, including playing conditions, strategies, etc., with such agreeable, thoughtful folks. What we share and learn during our free-flowing conversations in relaxed settings is priceless. It also helps that all of us can easily talk about gaming strategies and ideas until the cows come home!

So, in considering requirements for advantage play conditions, especially while on an extended traveling trip with other players, an honest evaluation of the people and personality types you will be playing and interacting with is, without a doubt, critical to success. This is why I consider my advantage-play buddies as one of my many blessings!

From casino heat and surveillance, to the odds and rules stacked against you, playing to win is difficult enough. So why put your hard-earned and/or hard-won money at risk when someone with a difficult, challenged personality is likely to make you distracted, tense, uncomfortable or downright angry? Unfortunately, difficult personality types are all too common and are frequently in the casinos and at the gaming tables. See if the following player descriptions remind you of anyone that, at some time, negatively affected your advantage play:

  1. Negative "Debbie Downer"/"Bill Buzz-Kill"
  2. This player is well meaning but overly needy. They will engage you in conversations about their gambling "bad beats," their problematic wife, husband, kids, monsters-in-law, or neighbors, and recant their recent (near fatal) surgery, bad meal, poor service, yada, yada, yada. Although well intentioned, they are especially adept at getting you off your game, and, to at least thinking about, slitting your wrists.

  3. "Failure Is Never Their Fault"
  4. You frequently will run across folks with this personality. Be it blackjack, craps, golf, tic-tac-toe or any win/loss situation, their loss or failure is always due to someone else. Their failure is because someone else split, didnít split, moved, blinked, made eye contact, yawned, laughed (insert implied distraction here), etc., and, therefore, is the cause of their losing hand, double bogey, or seven-out. The loss or bad shot certainly couldnít be the result of their lack of skill, technique, swing, or, heaven forbid, simply variance! More often than not, these "never-my-fault" types are usually blowhards who will not hesitate to belittle someone by letting you and everyone else within earshot know that you, he, she, them, etc., are the cause of them being a loser. If you have ever been at the tables with, or had to play 18 holes in a golf tournament with these "itís all your fault" types, I feel your pain! At about the ninth hole or so, being pummeled with your own golf clubs often seems more pleasant than their company!

  5. "Ego-Deficient"/"Know-It-All"

These folks simply find it impossible to keep their mouths shut or to make even a half-hearted attempt at staying under the radar in a casino. Self-proclaimed experts, they are the first ones to tell you how you should play your hand at the blackjack table, or conversely, to tell you how you misplayed your hand. It is interesting that they are most likely to spout off with their "wisdom" and "expertise" after a hand has been played, and the outcome is decided. They are also prone to loudly state what the count is, just so everyone at the table knows they count cards and how cool and superior they are. Too bad for your camouflage efforts if the pit now associates you with this type of moron and labels you a counter as well. Ego Deficient/Know-It-Allís can also be found showing off at the craps table by demonstratively throwing stupid bets all over the table, more so to try and impress others rather than having any reasonable chance at winning these stupid bets. Youíll frequently see them shaking their heads and rolling their eyes if someone else at the craps table has a roll shorter than what they deem as "worthy." The Ego-Deficient "Know-It-Allís" are especially sad to me. Iíve often wondered what lifeís tragedy must have happened to these folks to fuel their insecurity and their need to feel superior to others.

There are others, like the "Inflated Ego"/ "The World Revolves Around Me" or the "Just Plain Idiots," and this list could go on and on. Yes, it is especially unfortunate that these "challenging" personality types are seemingly drawn to casinos and gambling, like flies are drawn to cow patties.

One final thought is to consider that there are likely a few advantage players in this mix of personalities, who are not only adept at counting cards and playing with an edge, but are equally adept at staying camouflaged and under the radar. Part of their "act" may very well be playing the role of an idiot. One way of telling which ones may be "idiots in disguise" is to look to see if there is a big stack of the casinoís chips in front of them!

Although my primary and favorite casino game is craps, in terms of fun and challenge, blackjack and tournament blackjack is a close second. Just like blackjack, advantage play conditions at the craps tables are sometimes hard to find. So playing skilled blackjack with (hopefully!) an edge makes for a nice second bullet in the casino holster.

Now allow me to get back to the "Dixie" trip. In addition to the great company and camaraderie previously mentioned, a mini-blackjack tournament was scheduled on one evening during the trip. I had been working on improving my skills and strategies for tournament blackjack by reading articles posted on the blackjacktournaments.com website and the Blackjack Insider newsletter. I also purchased the e-book, How To Win More Blackjack Tournaments by Kenneth R. Smith, as well as the book Casino Tournament Strategy by Stanford Wong.

With my newfound tournament knowledge, I had advanced through qualifying and semi-final rounds and into the (money) final round on a previous trip to this casino a few months ago. Therefore, I felt confident that I could finish in the money again. Blackjack tournaments are great fun, a nice break and diversion from the physical skills required for advantage craps play, therefore, one of my firends and I decided to enter and play in the mini-tournament.

Unlike regular blackjack that pits player against the dealer, tournament blackjack pits player against all the other players at the table. In the one-advance-and- everyone-else-is-eliminated format in this tournament, if you "ainít first, youíre last," and the sole player ending up with the most chips wins and moves on to play other table winners in the next round.

Unfortunately, in the first qualifying round, I didnít get very good cards and finished in second place at my table. ("If you ainít first, youíre last!") Nevertheless, I had played well so I decided to re-buy and enter the second qualifying round. This time I won my table, which allowed me to advance into the semi-final round of the tournament.

The format for semi-final round was the same as the qualifying rounds, with only the table winner advancing. (Remember, "If you ainít first, youíre last!") However, as fortune would have it, I also won my semi-final round table, advancing into the finals, and (hopefully!) earning a share of the tournament prize money.

Prior to the start of the final round, I suggested to the other finalists that we "chop the pot" and not play the final round...

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