A LOCK AT THE VENETIAN
by Kenneth R. Smith
Ken Smith hosts the popular website www.BlackjackInfo.com as well as the online tournament community at www.BlackjackTournaments.com. 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 Ultimate Blackjack Tour airing on CBS & WGN. You can subscribe to his free email newsletter athttp://www.blackjackinfo.com/news/.
This month's column was going to be about situations from the recent UBT main event at the Palms. However, my first round didn't yield anything interesting, although I needed a fair amount of luck to advance. Unfortunately, my luck ran out in round number 2. I drew a bad button, betting first on the initial elimination hand, #8. When I tried to build up a small lead before the elimination hand, I lost 6 of the first 7 hands that resulted in an early and disappointing exit.
After being eliminated from the big tournament, I went to the Venetian for the UBT elimination blackjack Sit-and-Go tables. I managed to play three tables, and took first place on two of them. It was a nice contrast to my Palms results, but the $400 profit for the night didn't provide much compensation for my disappointment. But, at least the evening provided an interesting situation to discuss here.
The potential field for the SnG events at the Venetian falls into two, pretty easily identifiable, groups. You have the UBT sharks, which are very familiar with the strategies of elimination blackjack, and then you have the Venetian players, who just happen to notice the events and decide to give it a try. Of course, anything can happen in a tournament, so although the experienced players have a big edge, the casual players can pick up some wins as well. But, if you have some tournament experience, I highly recommend dropping by at the Venetian on Friday night to give these games a try. You'll be a favorite to make some money, even after the casino takes their vig from the games.
In my second game of the night, I shared the table with John Ressman, one of the best players anywhere. But, John ran into some trouble mid-round, and went out early. The remaining players were fairly inexperienced, so I resolved to just stay out of trouble until the end, where I knew I would have a nice edge with my betting and playing strategy. One by one, the other players dropped out, until I was heads-up on hand 24. I, and my opponent, still had our secret bets available, but I had a nice lead. Hand 25 would be the final hand in this round, and my opponent bet in the open either because he forgot to use his secret bet, or chose to save it for the last hand.
Here was the hand 24 situation: (betting limits are $500 to $25,000)...
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