CASE STUDY: LAST FIVE HANDS IN THE LAS VEGAS HILTON BLACKJACK TOURANAMENT
By HENRY TAMBURIN
Henry Tamburin is the editor of the Blackjack Insider Newsletter and author of the best-selling book Blackjack: Take The Money & Run. He is a finalist in the Las Vegas Hilton's Million Dollar Blackjack Tournament II. Henry currently is promoting all of his books at 30% off for BJI readers: click here.
It's great being a Monday morning quarterback. Especially when you get a chance to look back at how finalists played and bet on the last five hands in a final round. It's educational and gives you insight on what to expect should you decide to enter the tournament. Therefore I've prepared a case study of the last five hands that were played in the July preliminary round of the Las Vegas Hilton Million Dollar Blackjack Tournament II (thanks to Ken Smith (www.blackjackinfo.com) for providing me with the details on the last five hands).
The table shows the finalists, their seat assignment, and their bankroll going into the 24th hand.
McCarthy had already busted out. McGuire had the lead followed by Trullo in second. Trullo bet first nd wagered a small amount ($300). Calhoun and Powers made their move with large bets ($2250 and $2000 respectively). Thed dealer had a 3 upcard and busted. All the players won their hand and the big winners were Calhoun and Powers. Following the hand, Trullo took the lead with a $10,450 bankroll and McGuire was now in 2nd place ($9850 bankroll)
Calhoun and Powers were the big bettors with $2200 and the max $2500 wagers (respectively). The dealer had another 3 upcard and players who had stiff hands stood. It turned out the dealer pulled a 3 card 20 and that beat 3 of the players. Trullo was fortunate that he was dealt a blackjack. After the hand was over Trullo maintained his lead with a $10450 bankroll over McGuire's $10,200 bankroll.
Trullo bet $800 and doubled for less ($400) when he was dealt an 8-2 against dealer's queen. He was dealt a jack for a 20 which beat the dealer's 19. McGuire had bet the minimum $100 and lost when he busted. Trullo increased his lead with a $12850 bankroll and Wisner was now in second with $10200 on the strength of winning a $1400 bet.
On the next to the last hand things really started to tighten up. Three of the contestants who were chasing the leader made sizeable wagers (>$2000) while the two leaders wagered the identical amount ($1400). The dealer broke so several players gained on the leaders. Calhoun had bet $1000 of his $1950 bankroll, doubled but lost. He had only $50 left and was eliminated. Going into the final hand the five players left had these bankrolls.
Depending how they bet and how they played the last hand, four players had a shot at winning.
Here's how much each player wagered, the cards they were dealt, how they played their last hand, and the result.
Dealer's cards were 5 (upcard) - Q-A-Q (bust)
Let's analyze what happened.
McGuire had to bet first and having a slim lead in 2nd place made the right bet and wagered the maximum $2,500 (especially since he didn't know how the other players were going to bet).
Wissner bet next and wagered $2000. In retrospect he probably should have wagered the maximum amount ($2500) especially since McGuire had just done so.
Trullo, our leader, made the correct decision and wagered the maximum amount ($2,500). He had no choice after seeing the bets of McGuire who could have overtaken him if he won the last hand and Trullo lost.
Powers bet next and after seeing al the max bets by his opponents decided to take the low road and bet the table minimum of $100 and hope that the dealer beat the table. Not a bad strategy especially since everyone else bet big.
Gabay bet last and wagered $2100, which was half of his bankroll. It was pretty obvious his plan was to double or split and pray.
The dealer showed a 5 upard. Here's how the contestants played their hands.
McGuire went first. He was dealt a 5-Ace and he made a very smart play and doubled for another $2500. He drew a 3 for a 19. If he wins the hand and both bets (+$5000) he would end up in first place assuming no other player doubled or pair split and won.
Wissner was dealt J-Q. He also made a very smart decision in light of what McGuire had and his picture cards 9and of course bet another $2500 for the split). He drew and king to the jack and stood and 20. His draw card to the King was a 6 and his second hand he stood on 16.
Trullo, our leader, was dealt a beautiful 7-4. He made a very smart play and doubled down for another 42500. It wasn't "smart" because it was the right basic strategy play but it was "smart" because he needed to bet more to be sure he'd still be in lead if McGuire won his large double down bet.
Gabay bet last and was dealt an A-5. As expected he put out the rest of his bankroll and doubled down. He drew a queen for 16.
Four players had a shot at coming in forst depending on the outcome of the dealer's hand.
If dealer busted, Trullo ends up in first place.
If dealer got 21 (or blackjack), Powers winds up in first place.
If dealer got 20, Powers winds up in first place.
If dealer got 19, McGuire would have squeaked by with a victory by the slimmest of margin ($150)
If dealer got 18, McGuire gets first place.
If dealer got 17, McGuire gets first place.
The dealer had a queen in the hole to go with her 3 upcard for 13. She drew an ace for 15 then another queen and busted. Trullo ended up in first place and won $20,000.
Note: For more details on the Las Vegas Hilton Million Dollar Blackjack Tournament II, click here.
To read Henry's first article about the Hilton Tournament, click here.
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