SUPERBOWLS AND BLACKJACK TOURNAMENTS:
A LESSON IN DECISION MAKING
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, including two of the last four Blackjack Blowout events at the Kewadin Casinos in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. In this article, Monkeysystem discusses risk and decision-making as it applies to tournament blackjack, and makes a comparison to a decision witnessed by millions of television viewers during the 2010 Super Bowl.
As I stood there and watched some players I respect slug it out in the semifinal round at St. Ignace, Michigan this weekend, I pondered the way decisions are made, and players’ reactions to them. Do we make our decisions sometimes influenced by what people will think? How do we manage risk? What is the best way to make a decision?
I’ll use an example in another sport to illustrate a sound decision making process. In the 2010 Super Bowl, New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton made a gutsy decision that likely lead to the Saints victory and championship. However, if the outcome of that decision had failed, they likely would have lost and Payton might have been roundly criticized in the sports media, by fans, and by his players. The Saints were behind by four points at halftime and they had to kick the ball to the Indianapolis Colts and their Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning at the start the second half. Led by Manning, the Colts were a juggernaut that had a habit of taking possession of the ball at the beginning of the second half and driving the length of the field for the touchdown. Such a turn of events would have given the Colts an eleven-point lead – no team had ever come back from behind by that many points to win a Super Bowl.
Instead, Sean Payton took a risk. He opted for an onside kick, which, if successful, would give the Saints the ball to start the second half. If it failed, it would have given the Colts juggernaut excellent starting position and probably lead to an easy touchdown. Onside kicks in the NFL are usually never tried except in desperation at the end of games. The Saints’ onside kick took the Colts by surprise, and the Saints got the ball. The Saints then drove the length of the field against the shell-shocked Colts defense, scored a touchdown, and took the lead. Then, true to form, when the Colts got the ball back they took their opening second half possession, drove the length of the field machine-like for the touchdown, and retook the lead.
However, out here in TV land, I could see the change that took place in the complexion of the game because of that gutsy onside kick. Even though the Colts were in the lead on the scoreboard after that last touchdown, the Saints had the upper hand. The stunned Colts never scored again, and the fired-up Saints dominated the rest of the game and became champions. I became a citizen of the Who-Dat? Nation (Saints fans).
How does this relate to blackjack tournaments, you may ask?...
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