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Blackjack Insider Newsletter, Jan. 2005, #60


By Henry Tamburin

Smart Gaming web site

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


The premier episode of the World Series of Blackjack II is set to debut on GSN (formerly the Game Show Network) on Friday January 21. As one of the players in this tournament, I thought Iíd provide you with some background on the participants that played in the premier episode and what to expect. Of course Iím under contract not to reveal who won but what I can say is this round was very entertaining and exciting. Youíll be glad you watched it.

Here are the times (all EST) the first show will air and the players.

Katya Underhill, Joe Pane, Hollywood Dave Stann, Kevin Blackwood, Rene Angelil
Friday Jan 21, 10 PM premiere, 1 AM encore
Sat Jan 22, 8 PM
Sun Jan 23, 7 PM
Tue Jan 25, 10 PM

The Players

Katya Underhill. This is the first time I met Katya, who has been a professional blackjack player for about 4 years. She is a master of disguise. I first met her at one of the tournament pre-meetings and then when she showed up to play her round I didnít even recognize her.

Joe Pane. Iíve known Joe for a little more than a year. He is a retired Brooklyn police officer who has become one of the best blackjack tournament players (heís played in over 500 tournaments and won close to half a million bucks). Joe recently finished first in a monthly qualifier in the Las Vegas Hilton Million Dollar II tournament so heíll be playing in the finals in a few months for a shot at a million dollars. Iíve played in several tournaments with Joe and heís an excellent chip counter and knows exactly how much to bet in those crucial last hands. Pay special attention during the show on how Joe handles the talkative Hollywood Dave Stann who sits directly to his left. The banter between these guys is a classic.

"Hollywood" Dave Stann. He has the reputation of being the "bad boy of blackjack." because he tries to get into opponents heads when they play (youíll see what I mean when you watch the show). Dave is a Hollywood actor, the dealer on Celebrity Blackjack (also shown on GSN), and also a very good tournament player. He played in the first WSOB and finished second. I first met Dave through the tournament circuit. Despite his persona when he plays in tournaments, Dave is really a nice guy and quite a competent tournament player. He has read Wongís Casino Tournament book many times and reviews the strategy in the book before every tournament (hint: he follows Wongís advice to a T). Normally he can rattle his opponents with his banter but in this episode he runs up against a formidable opponent in Joe Pane. Their exchange during the round will be forever immortalized in the blackjack tournament hall of fame. Do not miss it!

Kevin Blackwood. Iíve known Kevin for several years but we never met until the WSOB. Kevin is an accomplished player who has won over one million dollars playing blackjack all over the world. He authored the book The Counter and his new book, Play Blackjack Like a Pro, will be released in a few months (Iíve read the book and it is very good). Although Kevin has played a lot of blackjack he didnít have much experience playing tournaments prior to the WSOB. So understandably he was nervous going in to this tournament loaded with tournament pros. Kevin confided to me after his experience in this tournament that he has much better appreciation of the playing and betting skills of successful tournament players. But as youíll see Kevin played well in his first WSOP tournament especially since he was playing next to the talkative Hollywood Dave.

Rene Angelil. Rene is best known as Celine Dioneís husband and manager. Rene is a fan of blackjack and an accomplished player that often gets invited to play in invitation-only blackjack tournaments in Las Vegas. In fact since 1985 Rene has won many tournaments. Rene developed throat cancer, which fortunately has been in remission.

What to Watch For

This premier show is a classic because of the interaction between Joe Pane and Hollywood Dave and the turnaround of events between them (this is the reason why GSN is televising this round first, even though it wasnít the first round played during the week-long tournament). The final outcome wasnít decided until the last hand. Pay attention to the precise bets made by the table leaders in those crucial last few hands and youíll appreciate the tournament skills of these players.

Note: GSN is carried by most cable and satellite companies. However, in some markets itís only available as a premium station. Check with your local provider if itís available in your area. If not check with your local sports bars if they carry the station. If you are a blackjack aficionado do whatever it takes to watch this show.


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