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Best of Henry Tamburin
Sammy won a million at blackjack9 January 2016
HENRY: What was your game plan going into the finals?
SAMMY: I’m a basic strategy player who bets conservatively in the early rounds because I generally lose more hands than I win. I try to read my fellow players as the round progresses and use “cause and effect” – namely, I say to myself, “If I bet this amount what do I expect my opponent(s) will bet?” After I go through different betting and sometimes playing options in my head, I make what hopefully is the best bet and play.
For example, I went through this process on hand #24 following the countdown. I was on the button in fourth place and had to bet first. I could have either bet large or small. After thinking about my options and what other players would bet, I decided to bet the minimum. It turned out this was a good play because the dealer beat me but I only lost $100 and I had plenty of bankroll left to make one last run at the leaders where I bet after them.
HENRY: In the championship round, you were one of seven finalists playing only 28 hands of blackjack with the winner getting 1 million bucks. What do you remember most about that round?
SAMMY:In hand 23, just before the countdown, I bet big and got 20. Then the dealer went and got a 21 and I thought I was done. I also remember hand 26 where I made a max bet of $2,500, got dealt a 12 and doubled down for another $2,500 and won $5,000 when the dealer broke.
HENRY: Doubling down on 12 is not a normal play that blackjack players should make. Why did you do it?
SAMMY: With only three hands left, I was in sixth place and behind the leader by more than a max bet. It was desperation time. I caught a lousy deuce on my double down but managed to win the hand when the dealer had 16, drew a 10, and broke. Winning that hand catapulted me from sixth to first place with only two hands left.
HENRY: After that $5,000 win, you had less than a max bet lead over four opponents going into the next to the last hand. Three of them made max $2,500 bets and so did you. You were dealt a 4-5 with the dealer showing a 10 and you shoved out another $2,500 and doubled down. Why did you double?
SAMMY: One of my closest opponents, who acted before me, bet $2,500 and was dealt a blackjack. In order to maintain my lead going into the last hand, I had to double down. I drew a 10 for 19 and, fortunately, the dealer broke again. So even though my opponent got a blackjack and 3 to 2 payoff, I maintained the lead because I won my double down bet.
HENRY: On the final hand, you and three other players had a shot at winning the million dollars depending on how everyone bet and played their hand. Can you describe what happened?
SAMMY: I was fourth to bet and my opponents who bet ahead of me all made a max bet of $2,500 so with my slim lead I had no choice but to match their bets. The player who acted first had an ace-5 and the dealer showed a 7 face card. He doubled down for another $2,500 and caught a 10 for 16. The next player bet $2,500 and doubled down on his 12. He caught a 5 for 17. I was dealt a 10-8 and I stood. Fortunately for me, the dealer flipped up a 10 in the hole for a 17 and my 18 beat her and I won the million dollars.
Henry Tamburin is the editor of the Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter (www.bjinsider.com)and host of smartgaming.com.
This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Best of Henry Tamburin