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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, March 2004, #50


By Kenneth Smith

Blackjack Info

Ken Smith hosts the popular website and the new site for tournament players Ken has written tournament articles for Blackjack Confidential magazine. You can subscribe to his free email newsletter for blackjack players at

I recently did a series of tournament diaries, chronicling my progress in a week of tournament events in Las Vegas. The daily missives from Vegas gave me a chance to illustrate my experiences at typical tournament tables, struggling with the kinds of strategy decisions that my articles often illustrate.

The series started with my participation in an event at the Stardust Casino. Subscribers to my email list at received the emails as the events unfolded day by day, What follows is day two of the series, when play began at the Stardust. If you’d like to follow my progress through the remaining days, you’ll find a link at the end to the archived newsletters.

The Stardust Tournament format

Today was the first day of play in the Stardust tournament. One of the main reasons I'm in Las Vegas this week was a report that the Stardust event was short quite a few players, and might provide a big overlay as a result. That is, the prize money might be much higher than the total entry fees.

Well, it's true that the Stardust was having trouble filling up this event, and as a result they changed the format a little, and dropped the prize pool from $135K to $100K. However, the event is now full at a revised limit of 200 players. The first place prize stayed the same as the advertised $75K, but all the other prizes were reduced. Second place in the tournament pays $10K.

This tournament has an entry fee of $375, which is not too bad for a shot at winning $75K. However, there's another factor that can make this an expensive play. Each round is played with live money, and each player must buy-in for $600 in cash for each round. Whatever chips you win are yours to keep, but likewise whatever you lose is real money.

The initial round has 6 players at each table. Each round is 30 hands, dealt face down from two decks. Betting limits for each hand are $5 to $300 and the two highest chip totals advance to round two. Players who don't advance can buy a reentry if available, for $175. There were apparently supposed to be guaranteed reentries available, but that didn't happen. Some players were unable to reenter, while at least one player played three times. That's happened before at the Stardust, and it's been a complaint of many players. It looks like they still haven't resolved this issue.


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