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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, April 2004, #51


By LV Tournament Pro

LV Tournament Pro is the pseudonym for a skilled advantage blackjack player and an experienced tournament player who has won over $375K playing in blackjack tournaments.

I had a couple of friends playing at the Las Vegas Hilton (LVH) Million Dollar Blackjack Tournament the weekend of March 19-20. They were trying to qualify for the finals scheduled for May 14-15 where one lucky tournament player from a field of 200 will win one million dollars. As Iíve reported before, Iíve already qualified to play in the finals so my visit to the LVH was just as an interested spectator and cheering section for my friends.

When I arrived at the casino, Les Thacker, who now runs the tournaments in a very professional manner, informed me that there were 176 entrants and surprisingly 81 were playing for the first time at the Hilton. Some, in fact, were playing in their first tournament ever. I personally think that this is a great thing to happen to blackjack tournament play.


I am sure that the TV coverage of last yearís Million Dollar finals and also this yearís broadcast of the World Series Of Blackjack (WSOB) by GSN has a lot to do with the increased turnout. Interest in poker has gone through the roof after the World Poker Tour (WPT) became a regular Wednesday night televised event. The GSN broadcast of the World Series Of Blackjack (WSOB) on Monday evenings at 10 P.M. (ET) has been outstanding and I believe will do to blackjack tournaments, what the WPT has done to poker play. I know where Iíll be on Monday nights at 10 P.M. WSOB makes for good TV and you can play along on the Internet if you like or just sit back and watch and enjoy. My hatís off to GSN for a great job!

This new influx of blackjack players that have never played in tournaments before brings me to my next point. Out of the 81 new players to play in the LVH March monthly tournament, 11 of them were part of the 16 who went on to qualify to play in the May finals for the million bucks. Thatís an outstanding 69 percent of new players that made the cut. I tip my hat to them for a great job.

The above result enables me to make this point to all the Casino Managers, Shift Managers and Marketing Directors who are telling some players that they are not welcome to play in their tournaments because they are a skilled tournament player. Well how do you so called gaming experts explain the above LVH statistics? Stop taking information from the Griffin Detective Agency, who is currently sending out a list of players that are playing in blackjack tournaments. I know this for a fact because theyíve listed me as a tournament player. When did playing in tournaments become a crime?

An advantage blackjack player does not mean that he or she is a good tournament player and a good tournament player does not mean the player is a skilled or advantage player. As a matter of fact a skilled tournament player does not count when playing in a tournament, (he or she is playing against the other players and not the dealer). Their bets are tailored to either stay ahead of their opponents or to catch and surpass their opponents.

Tournament play is night and day from live blackjack play. The count is useless in tournaments. The Corporation that hires these "gaming experts" should only know that their hired help is throwing good customers out the door. These players spend money in their restaurants, stay in their hotel, and use their amenties. I would think that these "gaming experts" would be the ones to be shown the door. I never heard of a good tournament player getting the edge on the dinner bill at the hotel resturant. If these suits would just learn to understand the numbers of their games, they would realize that there are very few players who can beat the game of blackjack. All a casino needs is good game protection in the pit that includes training their personnel. In a nut shell-stop being concerned about whoís playing in your casinos tournaments!

Sponsoring a tournament brings customers in the door and good game protection is what a casino should focus on rather than who is playing in their tournaments especially when the prize money is generated from the entry fees the players pay to enter. If the stockholders of these Corporations ever found out whatís really going on, I would think there would be some serious explaining by casino bosses. When a casino holds a tournament, customers will play the games on the floor between tournament rounds, stay in the hotel rooms, use the restaurants and bars. These are all revenue generators. If the pit did their job the games would take care of themselves because the casinos have a built in "House Edge". The casinos should realize that the customer you chase is the customer that plays, eats, and stays at your competitorís casinos and not yours. Based upon current gaming revenue and profits, every dollar spent and wagered in your casino should be cherished and not shown the door. Holding events in the casino are marketing tools and blackjack tournaments are just that Ė a marketing tool to get customers to your property.

Letís look at the successful blackjack tournament at the Las Vegas Hilton. That was the brainstorm of Jimmy Wike, a man who is well respected among his peers and a visionary in the gaming business. His policy is simple -everyone is welcome to play in my tournaments. He knows what it takes to protect his live games. He understands the numbers better than anyone around. He is aware that skilled players canít hurt him playing in his tournaments and instead will generate revenue. The public wants to play against the best blackjack tournament players in the country (would Major League Baseball hold the World Series and invite the two teams in last place)? I remember, for example, that when I first started playing in tournaments, I wanted to beat the so-called good players because I wanted that feather in my cap.

If the casino suits would look out for their employerís well being, they in turn will be rewarded with a well-earned bonus. Learn the numbers and the games will take care of themselves. Itís not how many customers you ask not to play and leave thatís important but rather its how many customers you and your marketing colleagues can bring in the door.

For those that donít know, Jimmy Wikeís skills and vision have been rewarded. He was recently named VP of Table Game Operation at Caesars, which is the flagship casino of Caesars World Entertainment. This is one of the top hotel casinos in the world. I tip my hat to Mr. Jimmy Wike who is not afraid to be different.


Till Next Time,

LV Tournament Pro




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