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Elimination Blackjack Tournaments
How to Play Elimination Blackjack Tournaments
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Blackjack: Take The Money and Run
by Henry Tamburin
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Henry Tamburin's most popular book on blackjack contains three levels of playing strategies. 1) For the beginner, a non-counting strategy that will give you a slight edge in some blackjack games. 2) The intermediate level strategy contains an introduction to card counting. 3) The advanced level playing strategy is a powerful system that will give the blackjack player up to a 1.5% edge over the casinos. The book also contains advice on which blackjack games give you the most profit potential, the risks involved in playing blackjack, how to play without fear of getting barred, and money management discipline.

How to Win Elimination Blackjack Tournaments - Part 2

The first season of the UBT began in November 2005 with preliminary and semi-final rounds at Lake Las Vegas followed by the Championship Tournaments played in an elaborate studio at CBS in Los Angeles.Henry TamburinHenry Tamburin is the editor and publisher of the Blackjack Insider Newsletter and author of the best-selling Blackjack: Take the Money & Run.  He is also the lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack course, a feature writer for Casino Player magazine (and 6 other publications); an owner of a casino gambling publishing company ( and the host of For a free three month subscription to the Henry's Blackjack Insider Newsletter with full membership privileges go to  Henry's website is  The episodes that subsequently appeared on CBS in 2006 are from those tapings.

The UBT has since traveled to different tour stops including Aruba, St. Kitts, Barona in San Diego, Palms and Venetian in Las Vegas.

In addition anyone can qualify to play in a televised UBT match by either winning one of many satellite tournaments scheduled at casinos around the country or by winning an Internet tournament.

I had the chance to play in the first UBT matches at Lake Las Vegas. None of the blackjack players who played in this first UBT match had much experience playing the elimination format and it was a rude awakening. Whereas conservative betting might be appropriate for traditional tournaments, you had to be much more aggressive in the elimination format or you would wind up on the sidelines right quick.

This is what happened in my first round. On hand number 7, which is the hand before elimination hand #8, I was in the middle of the pack with my chip count. But two poker players, who had the lowest chip totals, went all-in and lost. This left only four of us on the next hand (the first elimination hand). As I stared at the chip counts of my fellow competitors I realized I was in bad shape. I had the lowest chip count and I was one of the first to bet. No surprise that I was eliminated on hand 8.

I fared a little better on my second preliminary round but also got eliminated (I believe it was hand 25 when I pushed and one of my competitors won his hand). On my third preliminary round I survived all three elimination hands and wound up playing against poker pro Annie Dukes on the last hand, which I won. I advanced to the semi-final round which I needed to win to make it to the televised Championship Round in Los Angles.

I survived the three elimination hands in this round and went down to the last hand against another blackjack player, Skip Samad. I needed to double down on my hard hand and win this last hand and hope that Skip lost his hand to have a shot at overtaking his chip total but it wasn’t to be ( I drew a picture card on the double down and busted).

I can say from my experience playing in the UBT that it’s no cake walk. You have to mentally play your best game and be aware of your chip count compared to your fellow players’ chip counts and then pray that you are not one of the first players to bet in an elimination hand (betting after your opponents is much more favorable because you get to see how much they bet and how much unbet chips they have).

If you are planning a trip to Las Vegas, you might want to consider stopping at the Venetian casino on Friday evenings. They have Sit-n-Goes UBT tournaments running continuously. You can either watch the action or try your luck. Plus you might just see some of the UBT celebrities who often show up.

The skills you need to master to be successful in an elimination tournament are:

  • Keeping track of the chip count of other players. You won’t know how much to bet if you don’t know the bankrolls of your opponents.
  • Knowing when it’s best to go for the high (betting enough so that if everyone wins, you have the highest chip count), or to go for the low (keeping the most unbet chips so that if everyone loses, you have the most chips).
  • Knowing when to correlate (bet the same as your opponents bet), when to increase your bet, when to bet the opposite of your opponents, or to simply bet the minimum.
  • Being able to mentally determine the outcome of a player’s bet (i.e., what his bankroll would be if he won, lost, or pushed his hand).
  • Knowing how to lock out an opponent so no matter what the outcome of the hand, you will advance.
  • Knowing the importance of betting position (betting first in an elimination hand, or final hand, puts you at a distinct disadvantage compared to betting last).
  • Knowing when and how to deviate from the basic playing strategy.
  • In addition, if you decide to play in a UBT tournament with elimination hands, you need to master these additional skills:
  • How and when to use the secret bet and action card.
  • The use of surrender as part of your overall playing strategy.
  • How to be more aggressive in your betting if you are first to bet in an elimination hand.
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