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by Joe Pane

Joe Pane is a skilled advantage blackjack player and an experienced tournament player who has won over half a million dollars in blackjack tournaments. Besides competing in tournaments around the country and on the Internet, Joe writes the "House of Pane" column for "All In Blackjack" magazine. His peers consider him to be one of the strongest blackjack tournament players on the circuit.


One of the first things Richard Taylor said to me after winning the first Oklahoma State Blackjack Championship was that he loves taking the LOW. Well he took the Low all the way to the HIGH of being the first ever Oklahoma State blackjack champion. In winning this championship, Richard also took home over $22,000, the biggest win ever in his tournament career. (His previous biggest win was $7,000, which he won in a blackjack tournament held in Jean Nevada.)

I personally fell victim to Richardsís love of the low in our round in the Main Event tournament. I was Br 2 and betting after Br 4 and Br 5 on the last hand. Richard was BR 3 and sitting to my left so he had position over me. We had been neck and neck all match and two hands earlier I attempted to shake him from always mirroring my bets, by doubling down on my blackjack. The reason I did this was because once Richard had gotten a lead over me during the round, he would mirror my bets on almost every hand because he always bet after me (except for the hands were he was on the button and betting first). Since the button had already passed Richard and there were only two more hands in the round, I no longer had a chance to bet after him (i.e., I would be betting ahead of Richard on the critical final two hands).

I never like to double down on a blackjack, but knowing Richard plays it close to the vest, I saw this as maybe my only chance to regain the lead from him because I knew all he would give me was the swing. This is where I win my hand, and he losses his, but this happens only about 12% of the time. Now normally, a small lead is not too much of a concern, but with only a few hands left, the small lead that a player to your left has over you starts to become, and seems, much larger than it is. Richard may not have a lot of tournament wins in his resume, but he plays a strong game and takes what ever you offer him.

My double down card on my blackjack was face down so that made Richardís decision even more difficult as to whether he would follow my double down and do the same on his blackjack.

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