A WEEK TO REMEMBER
By LV Tournament Pro
LV Tournament Pro is the pseudonym of a skilled advantage blackjack player and an experienced tournament player who has won over $400,000 playing blackjack tournaments. He competed in the World Series of Blackjack in 2005 and also finished first in a monthly qualifier in the Las Vegas Hiltonís Million Dollar Blackjack Tournament. He was also selected to play in the Ultimate Blackjack Tour, which pitted the top blackjack players against the top poker players in a unique blackjack tournament (the UBT is currently being shown on CBS). His peers consider him to be one of the strongest blackjack tournament players.
Nearly all major blackjack tournaments last, at most, two days and are played in your normal casino atmosphere and surroundings, which is usually a cold room with flashing neon lights with only the passing eye of some slot player stopping by to see what all the fanfare is about. Once in a while you might even get a fellow table game player to peer in on the tournament action on the way to his or her next casino adventure, which might include the $9.99 buffet, or the well-earned comp to the coffee shop. But the week Iím about to describe to you has never occurred anywhere, in any casino, or for that matter in the world.
The week Iím referring to is the Ultimate Blackjack Tour that just completed in Aruba. It took 11 months to plan this big event but the effort and the results were worth it. And based on the current ratings of season 1 of the UBT airing on CBS on Saturdays at 2:00 pm ET, the players in Aruba wonít be watched by a few gawking slot players or table players; no sir, they will be watched by at least one million viewers when the Aruba tournament airs next year.
The folks who run the UBT didnít just pick any beautiful casino hotel resort to host their tournament. No, they went beyond everyoneís expectation and selected one of the most lavish tropical islands on this planet with the world class Radisson Resort hosting this tournament sponsored by UlimtaeBet.com.
Aruba is an island where the sun always shines, the water is as clear as your office water cooler with more fish that you can shake a stick at, that swim around you when you take a dip at their gorgeous beaches. Youíll even be able to see your feet when you stand in the crystal blue ocean that surround this island. This is as close to paradise as it gets.
Most mainland casinos host one tournament every few months for their loyal customers. The UBT, on the other hand, held three major tournaments in six days plus close to one hundred (no, thatís not a typo) Sit & Go Tournaments with entry fees starting at $120 to $1,000 per table. In addition to the main event (more about this in a moment), there were two $500 entry fee tournaments that attracted 134 players between them and created a prize pool of $67,000 for these two events. Now you understand when I say this was truly a week to remember with 103 tournaments held over 8 days, or an average of 12 blackjack tournaments per day. You could have played in some of them, most of them, or divided your time between the tables and the ocean. This is what made this tournament a tournament playerís dream week to remember.
The main event had a $2,500 entry fee and it attracted 145 of the worldís top ranked players creating a prize pool of $362,500. Some of the notable players that played in the main event, in no particular order were:
Phil Hellmuth, WSOP Champion and 10 time bracelet winner
Annie Duke, Top Female Poker Champion and WSOP Bracelet winner
David "DevilFish" Uliott, Multiple WSOP Bracelet Winner
Russ Hamilton, WSOP Champion and Founder of elimination style blackjack and UBT
Anthony Curtis, Gaming Expert and Blackjack Match Play Champion
Kenny Einiger, WSOB Champion 2005
James Grosjean, author of "Beyond Counting," and recent inductee into the Blackjack Hall of Fame
Robert Williamson III, WSOP multiple Bracelet winner
Blair Rodman, Poker and Blackjack Pro was has won millions of dollars in both games
Mansour Matloubi, WSOP Champion
There were many more well respected poker and blackjack players that played so this was really a test of skill and guts because the UBT elimination format leaves no room for error since the player with the lowest chip total after hands 8, 16, and 25 is eliminated. After the smoke clears on the last elimination hand (#25), there were at most only four players left to battle it out over the final five hands to determine a winner (in most rounds the two players with the highest bankrolls advance to the next round).
As you can see, if you had come to Aruba and played in the tournament you would have had the chance to play and possible beat some of the worldís best poker and blackjack players (the same pros you watch playing in tournaments on ESPN, the Travel Channel, GSN, and other networks, and probably been telling your friends and family about all the time). Iím sure youíve thought or said this more than once, "if I ever go up against so-and-so, I will bust Ďem and you can watch me do it on TV". But, hey, now you can beat them on the biggest television network in the worldand all your friends and family will be watching as you do it. Yes, you can cash in on your 15 minutes of fame in a big way by playing in the UBT.
Donít despair if you think that you missed all the fun because the UBT has a year long tour planned with stops all over the world including Paris France in June of 2007. The next stop is on the island of St Kitts from Oct 28 to Nov 4. If you want to compete against the top blackjack and pokers player of the world in a format that virtually levels the playing field so that the average Joe or Jane has a fighting chance, what are you waiting for! Get your bathing suit , sunscreen, and a toothbrush and head on over to www.playUBT.com for a free chance to win a seat directly to the final table, or go to www.Bet21.com where there are daily tournaments for only five bucks that will make you eligible to win a complete St Kitts package worth - are you ready for this - $6,000 including your $2,700 entry fee into the main event plus $1,000 towards airfare and hotel accommodations for the week plus another $500 in spending money. If your schedule conflicts with the St. Kitts UBT tournament donít fret because their will be many more stops to choose from.
There were, to be sure, other interesting events that happened during the week at Aruba and Iím going to share a few of them with you to give you a flavor of what went down (many the result of the pro poker and blackjack players quest for action, whether or not they had the advantage).
The first tale is about two well know blackjack players and two very well know poker players going to the best steak restaurant on Aruba (and probably the best steak house in the entire Caribbean). The restaurant is El Gaucho and if you ever travel to Aruba itís a must for dinner (most tourists who stay a week go there twice, itís that good).
So here is the situation. There were four players, and including their guests, a total of nine for dinner. They begin their get together with two bottles of premium champagne to toast being in paradise and then dinner is ordered with multiple bottles of fine wine consumed during and after dinner. Shortly thereafter the "four figure" dinner check arrives. Three credit cards hit the table at once as two poker players and one blackjack players insist on paying the bill (the other blackjack player was warned to not even reach into his wallet for his credit card because he was invited by the other players as a guest). With three players wanting to pick up the tab, how do you think they resolved this conflict? If you havenít guess by now, hereís what happened. A deck of cards suddenly appears on the table, the plates are cleared, and one hand of seven- card stud is dealt with this rule: the player with the worst hand gets the honor of hosting the party and paying the bill. It turned out that the poker player with the initials A.E. was dealt a pair of 2ís, never improved his hand, and he wound up as the official host of the El Gaucho get together.
The other tale happened at another casino from the host Radisson Casino. Four blackjack pros decide to play blackjack on the same table. This is never a good thing, but it was late and this happened to be the only blackjack table open. The suspects at the table were
Anthony was playing before the other pros joined the table. He said, and I quote, "this can only get bad," so he quickly exited the table. It turned out it was a wise move.
So now the table consisted of three blackjack pros and a young lady from Atlanta who was flat betting five bucks a hand with her basic strategy card right on the table which she reviewed on every hand (and I do mean every hand).
She starts looking at the other three players and you can see her mind working. She finally says, "I think I know who you guys are." All three pros were now playing with their heads down, trying to hide their smiles as they had been made by someone who obviously watches those televised blackjack tournaments. She then points to Hollywood Dave and says, "you are Hollywood Dave; how come youíre so quiet tonight?" Then she begins to ask all sorts of blackjack questions including asking for advice on how to play her hands. She also proceeds to notice that every time the boys put out a big bet, all sorts of Aces and 10 appear on the layout. But sheís a fast learner; every time they bet big, she decides to up her bet up to a nerve-racking $30 (trust me, this was a big bet for her). See leans over and whispers into Joeís ear, "do you guys do this in every casino that you go into?" He whispers back to her, "No, not every casino, just the ones that let us in." Joe always has a typical Brooklyn wise-ass answer ready for situations like this.
After about five shoes, the casino "readjusted" the penetration on the game from 75% to 50 % and the boys pick up their chips (and profit) and hit the beach. The unsuspecting lady from Atlanta begs them to stay, telling them she has never won this much money before playing blackjack. To be sure, this lady will remember her night of blackjack play in Aruba and perhaps this event will change her outlook on how blackjack should be played.
I hope to see you in St Kitts. Maybe the boys will take you out with them to play a few shoes of blackjack
Until then, may all your aces have a little paint on them.
LV Tournament Pro
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