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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, August 2003, #43


By Henry Tamburin

Smart Gaming web site

The web site is owned by Henry Tamburin, blackjack expert and author of the immensely popular book, "Blackjack: Take the Money and Run" (30% off at Henry is the editor of the Blackjack Insider e-newletter, and a feature writer for Casino Player magazine.

"Is the Hilton Million Dollar Tournament worth playing?"

If you can afford to risk $1,000 my answer is a resounding, yes. And here's why.

  1. For me, the key factor in determining whether to enter a tournament is the equity. This is the ratio of money taken in by the casino in tournament fees compared to what they give away in prizes. The best tournaments and the only ones I play, give away 100% of the entry fees in prizes. Anthony Curtis was the first to analyze and publish the equity of the Hilton tournament in the July 2002 issue of the Las Vegas Advisor newsletter ( Curtis computed the breakeven point - the point at which your mathematical expectation is to get back what you've spent to enter - at 160 entrants. Consequently, anytime a monthly round has less than 160 players you would have an equity advantage, which means the casino is paying back more money than it's taking in. How likely is this to happen? If you look at the data for the past 15 monthly rounds, 12 monthlies had less than 160 players (the range has been 66 to 200). To give you an idea of the approximate expected return (ER) vs. the number of players; Curtis computed the following ER's.
    • 67 players. ER is $2,300
    • 115 players. ER is $1,300
    • 200 players. ER is $850

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