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blackjack tournament diary

Ever wanted to quit your day job and tour the country playing casino tournaments?  This account of my latest tour may change your mind.
 

16 Feb 2002 8.30am: Arrive in Brisbane after leaving Perth at 12pm the night before. Jump on the poorly named 'Airtrain' that stayed firmly on the ground all the way to the Gold Coast.

16 Feb 2002 10.00am: Arrive at the Gold Coast and wonder where I am going to stay.  Luckily the bus from the train station passed by Conrad Jupiters.  Alighted on Pacific Highway Broadbeach, just across from the casino and took a room at the barely inhabitable Montago Motel.  At least it has air conditioning.  Tried to get some sleep before the tournament that night.

16 Feb 2002 3.00pm: Walk over to the casino early as I realise that I am too worried about oversleeping and missing my heat at 6pm.  Take a mental note to bring a travel alarm clock next time if this is the kind of accommodation I will be using.  I walk under a monorail heading to the casino and wonder why I didn't take that instead of walking as the casino is still quite a walk from Pacific Highway.

JUPITERS CASINO 'CONQUEST OF STEEL' ROULETTE TOURNAMENT

16 Feb 2002 3.30pm: I watch a couple of the heats in the 'Conquest of Steel' roulette tournament to get a feel for the local tournament rules and to work out my strategy.  Its hard to concentrate when you haven't slept for 36 hours, but I feel that I have a pretty good strategy worked out for the $36,000 prize pool event.

16 Feb 2002 6.00pm: My heat is under way and things are going as planned.  I am not leading throughout most of the heat but as expected, 2 others have lost everything and are out of the running.  Coming into what could potentially be the last spin, I calculate that all I need to do is to bet $50 on a 5/8 split, as well as similar bets on a few other numbers and I am assured a place in the next round of the tournament.  My lack of sleep has finally caught up to me as I realise that instead of 5/8, I have put my $50 on 8/11.  The dealer has already called 'no more bets' so I reassure myself that as long as number 5 does not come in this spin I am still in the running.  Of course, number 5 is spun, I lose, and the heat is over.  To add insult to injury, I get an earful from one of the other tournament players who says my style of play is not 'in the spirit of the game.'  This just reconfirms that I had the right strategy, and I decide that I will definitely be back next year.  Next year though I will fly in a couple of days early so that I can get some sleep before my heat and hopefully avoid making stupid mistakes.

18 Feb 2002 4pm:  After spending the next couple of days wallowing in my self pity on the Gold Coast, I set my sights on the Mini Baccarat tournament at Star City.  Start to feel a little less sorry for myself and begin to enjoy the beaches and relaxed lifestyle.

19 Feb 2002 8.00am: Arrive in Sydney after spending a surprisingly enjoyable overnight bus ride from the Gold Coast. Walk to Oxford street and check into the budget Koala Oxford Hotel on Oxford street.  I catch up on a few hours sleep (I have learnt my lesson) and then do a bit of site seeing, taking in the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and Art Gallery.
 

STAR CITY MINI-BACARAT TOURNAMENT

19 Feb 2002 6.00pm: Walk down to Star City via Darling Harbour and realise (again!) that I should have taken the monorail.  This tournament is a $61,000 prize pool event with a $50,000 first prize, making it the richest tournament on my tour.  I get to the tournament desk where they inform me that I will need a $200 buy in of my own money.  A mad panic ensued as I tried to find an ATM that would let me withdraw cash from a credit card account.  These are as rare as hens' teeth around casinos because of regulations that attempt to discourage people from to gambling on credit.  Finally found an ATM back at Darling Harbour and made it back to the casino just in time.

19 Feb 2002 7.00pm: My heat begins, and although I've never actually played mini baccarat before I have no trouble in figuring it out.  (Bet on banker, player or a draw - one of the simplest casino table games).  My strategy of always betting the minimum bet on banker seems to be working well as two other players lose all their money and drop out of the running.  I am coming second leading into the last few hands, but only the highest money winner from each table goes into the semi final.

With a $100 maximum bet, I realise that as long as I am no more than $100 behind the highest money winner when the last hand comes around then I am still in with a chance of beating him.  Unfortunately, a chip count before the last hand revealed that he had $250 and I had $137.50.  This meant that, unless he did something stupid and bet more than the minimum bet of $10, I had no chance of winning.  I made my 'secret' bet (not revealed to other players) of $100 on 'player' and hoped that he would bet more than $10 on 'banker'.  He was sensible and bet $10 on banker.  The outcome was good in that 'player' won, I won $100 and ended up with $237.50, he lost his $10 and ended up the winner with $240.

I was not too disappointed as I felt I had done my best under the circumstances.  This is a great tournament and if I lived in Sydney I would enter into all 6 heats to give myself the best chance of getting through to the final.

20 Feb 2002 5.00pm:  Head back to Brisbane via a Greyhound Coach and wonder why I had planned this trip so poorly.  Take another mental note that the distance between Sydney and Brisbane is quite vast.  Hopefully for the next tour I will be over my fear of flying.
 

TREASURY CASINO BLACKJACK TOURNAMENT

23 Feb 2002 3.30pm:  Enjoyed the last couple of days looking around Brisbane.  It helps when I stay in better accommodation - this time the Albert on the Park Hotel.  The day of my last scheduled tournament has arrived.  This is the $20,000 prize pool Blackjack Tournament at Treasury, and the tournament to which I have been looking forward to the most.

My heat was quite uneventful until the last couple of hands.  By this time a couple of players had been eliminated and I was coming a close second place.  The front runner was a couple of thousand dollars ahead so I was focussed on retaining my second place, as this was all that was needed to make it through to the next round.

I was in the unenviable position of being the first to bet for the second last hand.  As I was in front, I went for the minimum bet of $5.  The player who was in third position at this stage made his move and bet $500.  Unfortunately for me, he won and jumped ahead of me by a couple of hundred dollars.  As usual in blackjack tournaments, it was going to come down to the last hand.

I was in a better position for the last hand as I was the last player to make my betting decision.  As the third place player had bet the minimum bet, I went put down a $500 chip.

I drew a 16 versus a dealer 10 (cant get much worse than that) and decided not to take a card and hope for the dealer to bust.  The next card out of the shoe was an 8 so I'm glad I didn't hit.  The second card on the dealer's hand was a 2.  Not too bad - all I needed was the third card to be a picture card or 10 and I was through.  Alas - my bad luck continued and the dealer drew a 9 to get 21.  My tournament tour was over, and as I left the casino my only thoughts were on how I was going to get home to Perth.

23 Feb 2002 7.00pm:  The only flight I can get out of Brisbane that night is to Melbourne.  Not quite what I was looking for but at least it is on the way home.

23 Feb 2002 10.00pm:  Arrive in Melbourne where I take the shuttle bus to Spencer street station and walk three blocks to Crown Casino.  I decide that it is too late to organise accommodation so resign myself to the fact that I will have to spend the night at Crown.  Maybe a chance to make some money at card counting, as Crown has some of the best conditions in Australia.  After 6 hours at the blackjack tables I am only $30 ahead as I only came across a couple of really positive true counts.  If I hadn't wasted $1 on every hand on the 'Magnificent 7's' sidebet I would at least have been a couple of hundred ahead.  I was hoping to jag three sevens and gain entry into the $250,000 tournament, but this was not to be.

24 Feb 2002 6.00am: Hungry and very tired I stumble back to the Spencer street station and board the bus back to the airport to  catch the 8.00am flight back to Perth.

24 Feb 2002 10.00am:  Reflect back on an unsuccessful tournament tour as the plane descends into Perth.  It was, however, a fantastic holiday and I look forward to making a similar trip later on in the year.

Check on the link to the tournaments page below to plan your own tournament tour.  Hopefully you will have better luck than I did.
 


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