Best Blackjack Players

Normally I'm not one who enjoys tooting my own horn. However, in this blog entry it just can't be helped, so I'm going to throw all modesty aside and blast that trumpet. I'm proud to announce that I am the winner of the World's Greatest Blackjack Player tournament at the 2011 Blackjack Ball.

For those of you who have never heard of the Blackjack Ball, it is an annual gathering of the world's best blackjack players and those who have contributed to the study of the game. For years it has been hosted by gambling writer Max Rubin at a secret location in Las Vegas. The tab is paid for by the Barona casino in San Diego, which I think is very sporting of them. It is a prestigious thing just to get invited. For more information, I highly recommend the article The Blackjack Ball by Michael Konik, which appeared in the Sep/Oct 1999 issue of Cigar Aficionado magazine.

The evening starts with a cocktail reception, dinner, and then voting on an inductee into the Blackjack Hall of Fame. The winner is a little-known, but one of the best blackjack players ever, Zeljko Ranogajec. Next came the tournament for the Grosjean Cup for the 2011 World's Greatest Blackjack Player. It starts with a Calcutta, in which everybody can bet on who will win. No, I didn't bet on myself, unfortunately.

As always, the first step is to narrow down a room of about 100 outstanding blackjack players to just six. This is done with a 21-question test on knowledge of blackjack and casinos. Some questions were serious, some trivial. A good question, that I'm embarrassed to say I missed was, "Which Clark County casino has the most 3-2 single-deck blackjack games?" I'll post the answer at the bottom. Another one, which I did get correct, was in what city is the Chumash casino? Having lived in Santa Barbara for five years made this one easy — Santa Ynez, which is a small town inland from Santa Barbara, close to Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch.

My score on the test was 11. I didn't think that was a score good enough to qualify, but I tied with six other people with 11 as the highest score. One had to be eliminated. This was done by taking turns naming any Harrah's (I still have trouble calling them Caesars Entertainment) property in the country. As soon as somebody gave a wrong answer, or a repeat, he or she was eliminated. We went through all the Vegas properties first. After a about two or three more rounds somebody else got one wrong, and I advanced to the table.

However, the table had five spots only, and six people advanced. A game of darts was used to eliminate one person. Just that morning I had been shooting a BB gun with my son, so I was primed and ready! I'm proud to say that not only didn't I lose, but I won, giving me the first-base position at the table, and some positional advantage, although I'm not sure if it helped.

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