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Best of John Grochowski

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The Ultimate Blackjack Tour

16 October 2007

Saturday afternoon, I was in my home office getting a little work done, when I heard my wife shout. "Hey! It's Anthony!"

In the living room, she'd turned to CBS, and the Ultimate Blackjack Tour, where the final hands were a showdown between Anthony Curtis and Blair Rodman. I've known Curtis for years --- he was one of the first people I leaned on for help when I started this series of columns in early 1994. He publishes the monthly Las Vegas Advisor, along with some terrific gambling and Las Vegas-related books through his Huntington Press.

One of Huntington Press' authors is Rodman, who along with Lee Nelson wrote Kill Phil: The Fast Track to Success in No-Limit Hold'Em Tournaments. It was a familiar situation. In the "Legends" event in the UBT's first season, Curtis went down to the last hand before losing to Ken Einiger, another Huntington Press author (Play to Win: A World Champion's Guide to Winning Blackjack Tournaments).

Once again, the author reigned over the publisher. Playing from behind and making the one secret bet allowed in the 30-hand finals so that Rodman had to think about his own bet, Curtis found himself having to double down on a 13. When the dealer pulled an Ace to 7-2 for a total of 20, only an 8 could save that 13. The face down card was a 3, and Rodman had his victory.

The Ultimate Blackjack Tour, now into its second season, is pretty exciting stuff that televises amazingly well. Viewers can see the face down cards and follow the action, just as in televised poker. In a format filled with forced eliminations and secret bets, UBT wrings all the drama it can out of the game of 21. It's worth a watch --- check it out Saturdays on CBS. Times vary by market --- you'll usually find it leading into a college football game on a Saturday afternoon.

** Speaking of tournament play, Majestic Star Casinos in Gary have ramped up interest in the poker room aboard Majestic Star II through association with the Heartland Poker Tour. Avalanches of entries have made the two events at Majestic Star the biggest payers in HBT history.

Heartland is coming back in November, and this time the prize pool is estimated at $1 million.

Starting Nov. 5, Majestic Star will offer Sit 'n' Go tournaments, with winners receiving seats in qualifying tournaments for the Heartland event. Those qualifiers start Dec. 1, with the main event beginning Dec. 7. On Dec. 10, the final table will decide the championship and will be taped for later broadcast on Comcast SportsNet.

Heartland Poker Tour's motto is "Real People, Real Money," and it draws players from all walks of like. The caliber of play is high, but these are people with day jobs, not full-time poker pros.

If you want to get a Heartland sample, you can give it a go at the new Heartland Poker League at Majestic Star. Plans are for to start leagues at a number of HPT venues. At Majestic Star's poker room through Nov. 28, there will be Heartland Poker League events every Sunday and Wednesday. Registration begins at 5 p.m. with play starting at 7. On Sundays, there's an $80 buy-in and a $20 entry fee, while on Wednesday there's a $65 buy-in with a $15 entry.

For more information, you can call the Majestic Star poker room at (219) 977-7444.

**The coming of electronic table games such as the Vegas Star five-player tables has brought the ancient Asian game of sic bo to a few new venues. You can bet on virtually any combination of three dice --- single numbers, dice totals, big or small combinations, even doubles or triples of matching dice.

With an electronic table, you won't get the demonstration Las Vegas dealers used to give of the single-number bets, which pay even money if one die comes up on your number, 2-1 for two dice and 3-1 for all three. Dealers would put out six imaginary bets, wagering on 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. Then they'd show three dice on numbers 1, 2 and 3. "I pay 1, 2 and 3, and I take 4 5 and 6. Three chips in, three chips out. What could be fairer?"

That works out great, and single-number bets would have no house edge if the dice always came up on three different numbers. But they don't. If all three come up on 4, for example, the player who wagered on that number would get a 3-1 payoff. The others would all lose their bets. If the dealer showed that with a chip on each number, it would be three chips out, but five back in to the house till --- and it certainly can be fairer than that.

House edge on single-number bets in sic bo is a hefty 7.9 percent. The best bets, at 2.8 percent, are the small (4 through 10) and big (11 through 17) totals of all three dice.

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

Winning Tips for Casino Games

> More Books By John Grochowski