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by Kenneth R. Smith

Ken Smith hosts the popular website as well as the online tournament community at  Considered one of the best tournament players in the country, he has appeared on TV in GSN's World Series of Blackjack 2004 and 2005, the Las Vegas Hilton Million Dollar Championship II finals, and is also featured in the upcoming Ultimate Blackjack Tour.  You can subscribe to his free email newsletter at

GSN's popular "World Series of Blackjack" television series is coming back for a fourth season, and excitement is building among the blackjack tournament community. While prize details haven't been officially announced yet, we know that it will be substantial based on last year's massive $1 Million payout.

Last year's version (WSOB III) was played and filmed in early 2006 at the Las Vegas Hilton, where 40 players competed for the million dollar prize pool. Dr Jeff Bernstein emerged victorious, collecting $500,000 in cash for his efforts. The competition aired on the GSN TV network starting June 5th, 2006 and continuing in subsequent weeks for a total of thirteen hour-long episodes.

With each seat in the event likely worth $25,000 ($1 million divided by 40 players), avid tournament players are already hoping to win a seat in WSOB IV. The first season of WSOB used a strictly invitational selection process, but last year's event and the upcoming fourth season have moved to a more democratic process, awarding most seats in the final event to players who have won their seat in a qualifying tournament.

The official announcement for these qualifying events wasn't made until late in October, so unless a casino in your area publicized their participation, you may not have heard anything about them. Although it's late in the process to be looking for a way to qualify, I wanted to lay out the entire schedule available at this time.

One at a time, we'll look at each casino that is offering a way for players to compete for a WSOB seat. If you're interested, be sure to also check the message boards at for updates. It is quite possible that other last-minute qualifying events may be announced.

Atlantic City Hilton: Atlantic City, NJ

The AC Hilton hosted a series of weekly events, starting in October and finishing up December 8th. Each Friday during that time, any visitor with a player’s club card could compete for free in an attempt to qualify. You get to play 10 hands, in an attempt to turn your starting chips into a huge stack. The highest chip total for the day (1 pm to 7 pm), wins $1000, and the chance to come back December 9th to play a final Championship event. The top two players in this $50,000 event win seats in WSOB IV.

Last chance: December 8th, 2006

Pearl River Resort: Philadelphia, MS

At Pearl River's Golden Moon casino, they are holding weekly satellite events on Thursdays, starting November 24th and continuing for 7 weeks, ending January 4th, 2007. With an entry fee of $200, only one player each week wins prize money. First place each week wins $1,000 and a seat at a championship final table of 7 players on January 4th. At that table, everyone wins $1,000 except the first place finisher, who gets $5,000, and a coveted seat in WSOB IV in Las Vegas.

Choctaw Casino: Durant, OK

With at least two casinos under the Choctaw Casino name offering qualifiers, these events offer several opportunities per week. Play Wednesday, Friday, & Saturday through December 9th for daily cash prizes. Top players each week will compete December 16th where the winner will receive $20,000 in spending cash and a seat in WSOB IV.

Mystic Lake Casino: Prior Lake, MN

Mystic Lake ran four qualifying rounds in November 2006, on each Tuesday. With a $150 entry fee, each weekly event had a $15,800 prize pool. In addition, the seven finalists each week got to come back for the championship on December 5th.

First place in the championship event held on December 5th got the WSOB seat plus airfare, food, hotel, and $5,000 cash.

Soaring Eagle Casino: Mt Pleasant, MI

Soaring Eagle's qualifying process is structured much like Pearl River Resort's satellite in Mississippi. A $125 entry fee into one of 7 feeder events (Oct 14, 21, 28; Nov 19, 25; and Dec 9, 16) gives you a shot at a $1,000 first place prize, and a seat at the championship final table of 7 players, held December 23rd, 2006. Unlike at Pearl River, each satellite pays 7 places. The winner of the championship event December 23rd gets a seat at WSOB IV.

Lucky Eagle Casino: Rochester, WA

In Washington State, Lucky Eagle Casino is again providing a way for that area's tournament players to get involved. Their qualifying tournaments run August 6th, September 10th, November 5th, December 10th and January 7th. In addition, there are invitational events on August 20th and December 10th. Each event has an $85 entry fee and is limited to 84 players. Awarding a $5,000 prize pool and $2,500 first place, these events also send the top seven players to a final event held January 14th. First place in that event goes to WSOB IV.

Silver Legacy Casino: Reno, NV

The Silver Legacy held daily events that allowed players to win a seat in monthly events that eventually lead to a seat in WSOB IV. With no information available about any of this on their website, it appears the Silver Legacy prefers a cloud of mystery over their promotions.

Thunder Valley Casino: Lincoln, CA

Thunder Valley's qualifiers for WSOB IV were strictly invitational, and again, information about them was scarce. If you have rated play there, maybe you can find out details.

More events may be announced between now and the big event, so stay tuned at Good luck!

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