World Series Of Blackjack

Published on: April 26, 2013 

Ever since Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2003, poker players dream of winning a buy in to this prestigious event through an online satellite tournament. Not many blackjack players at online casinos know that there was once a World Series of Blackjack (WSOB). Four tournaments were held from 2004 to 2007. WSOB was then discontinued, probably because it was not commercially viable. WSOB was produced by the cable network GSN for television viewing. The tournaments were held at exclusive land casinos.

The opening season in 2004 had a starting field of 25 players. The venue was the Mohegan Sun Casino & Resort. Mike Aponte took home the first prize of $100,000. Aponte was an appropriate winner. He had made a name for himself, not to forget millions of dollars, with the famous MIT Blackjack Team. The 2005 WSOB was held at the Golden Nugget Casino in downtown Las Vegas. The first prize was increased to $250,000 and the starting field increased to 40. Though Aponte returned to defend his title, he lost in the preliminary round. The second WSOB was won by Ken Einiger.

In 2006 and 2007 the event was staged at the Hilton Hotel and Casino on the Vegas Strip. The top prize was further increased to $500,000. The 2006 winner was Dr. Jeff Bernstein. The 2007 WSOB had celebrity participants. They included Shannon Elizabeth and Tiffany Michelle who are well known in the poker fraternity today. Other notable celebrities were blackjack champion Caroline Rhea, baseball star Orel Hershiser and magician Penn Jillette. Previous winners Einiger and Bernstein also entered to have a second shot at winning. In the end Alice Walker emerged winner. Alice had earlier won GSN’s million dollar three card poker championship.

The rules were tweaked a bit each season. The rules prevalent in the last season are described below. The game was played with a six deck shoe. Each player started with a chip stack of $100,000. The table limits were minimum $1,000 and maximum $50,000. Players could double down on any pocket cards. The surrender move was permissible and it cost the players half their bet. The dealer stood on all 17s. One major deviation from land casino rules was that players could split and double down for less than their ante bet. If a player did not have enough chips to cover the minimum bet, he or she was eliminated immediately. After 25 hands, the player with the most chips won.

There were three special rules not included in land casino blackjack. A Knockout Card was added to the deck. When it was dealt the player with the least chips value was eliminated immediately. A Power Chip was given to each player. The player could once use the Power Chip to exchange one of their cards for the next card in the shoe. The third rule was the Second Chance rule. It allowed eliminated players to get another chance to participate through a lucky draw. The 5th place finishers in the earlier rounds got 1 ticket, 4th place finishers got 2 tickets and 3rd place finishers got 3 tickets for the draw. The drawn player moved to the next round with the winners and the other players went home.

Blackjack players at online casinos can only hope that someone revives the World Series of Blackjack in its original or some other avatar. It could give one of them a chance to be the Moneymaker of blackjack.

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