Connecticut: October Day 2 (Tournament Day)

Just as a preface–I wrote this after arriving home from the trip and never published it–I believe it comes across as negative but, in life, there is the good, the bad and the ugly–I’m guessing I can chalk this one up to the ugly…enjoy


Upon waking, I sauntered down to Starbucks, in a good mood after last night’s comeback to actually have my head hit the pillow on the positive side of the street.

As I drank my venti iced skinny vanilla latte, I said to myself “hmmmmm playing in the morning on Saturday is not usually a good idea but, I have to play at some point, right?”

I made my way over to the high limit are, where, surprisingly, not many tables were yet open.

As seems to be the case when I attempt to play head’s up, someone will inevitably sit down right as I am cutting the cards–is there some signal I give off to attract these people to my table?

The two guys who approach the table seem as if they have been awake all night and still buzzed from the nightclub.  Only one of them is playing and his buy-in was a showstopper:

He pulls a twenty out of one pocket, another twenty out of another pocket, reaches inside his jacket pocket where he finds ten singles and then, finally, realizing it is a 100min table, asks his friend for fi40 so he can buy-in.  WHAT THE FUCK‽ You are buying in for one chip at a 100min table–I never understood people who do this–regardless of the table minimum, these people will buy-in for 1, 2 or 3 bets — WHY‽ Why not go to a table where you will get more for your money or, if you are at a 5min table and can only afford to buy-in for $15–YOU SHOULD NOT BE GAMBLING!!!  You should not have spent the gas money and, possibly, tolls, to even drive to the casino–you should have saved your money and used it to live your life.

So, the shoe begins and, naturally, the guy is dealt 8,8 versus a dealer 5 and elects to split.  Here is where the true idiocy of this guy shows–he pulls out a $1k chip!!! Why in the fuck would you scrounge around and borrow $50 from your friend for a 1 chip buy-in when you actually had a $1k chip in your pocket???

As the anger rages inside me, he is dealt a 7 on his first hand and actually thinks about doubling down–which, after a 3 minute conversation, his friend talks him out of.  On the second 8 he is dealt a 3 and, guess what, he decides to NOT double it, but pulls a King anyway.

Finally, I wave off my 18 and the dealer, with his 5 showing, turns over 10 then a 4 for a 19.  Of course.  The trip was back to even after one hand lol

Knowing that I would only grow more stressed by staying at this table and dealing with frick and frack, I move to the next table (which, at the time, was empty).

I must release some sort of idiot pheromone as, just as the dealer was finishing her shuffle, a player joined the table.

In one shoe, the dichotomy between the the other player and myself could not have been more noticeable–I made all the basic strategy plays plus some content dependent variations.  The other guy, basically threw his arms out to the blackjack gods and asked them to watch over him—here is a list of his “strategy”:

(a)  Double down on all 12’s versus dealer 7 through Ace, stating that “you gotta hit it anyway, might as well get some extra money on the table”;

(b)  Surrender 13, 14, 15 versus dealer 7 through Ace;

(c )  Never double an 11 “because you always draw the Ace”

Those are the ones that stood out to me.  However, what also stood out to me was that, despite other player’s actions, in the LONG TERM, having no direct effect on your EV, the short term effects are mind-blowing.  I had really good hands and got my money down on good doubles and splits and, within 1 shoe, was down 2k for the trip.  Having chanted the mantra of “other player’s decisions have no effect…other player’s decisions have no effect”, I could weather the storm no longer and switched tables again.

There was a table of about 3 people and they seemed to be having a good time.  I decided that perhaps opening a new table by myself in an effort to play head’s up would backfire again as I was sure someone would join me regardless.  So I sat down, awaited the next shuffle and began play.  At first, I actually won a few hands and recovered some money but then, all went to hell–the double down demons decided that they wanted my chips posthaste.  Unlike my compadre earlier, I did double down on 11’s and, just like he shouted form the rooftops, I was dealt an Ace on three of those occasions, naturally losing those doubles.

By the end of the shoe, I had lost 3k and decided, then and there, that I would go home.

However, I was still entered into a blackjack tournament.  As it was now only approaching 11am, and the tournament registration time was not until 1pm, I decided to basically wander the casino aimlessly for two hours — wow, not all it’s cracked up to be.

I joined the tournament registration line around 12:30 and, promptly at 1pm, the line began to move.  The clerk asked how my day was going and I said, I’m just here to lose the tournament so I can go home.  She said “In that case, I’ll get you in for the first round at 2pm” — I chuckled and walked away to sit on my ass for the next hour.

When the ballroom doors opened for the 2pm players to find their seats, I found out I was playing third base–which, really, is meaningless as there is a button that moves so each person rotates as the first to be dealt too.

We were about to begin the tournament with only 5 of the 6 seats taken when, naturally, a late entry was granted to someone not originally invited to the tournament (she must have been losing all morning).

The tournament was to be 15 hands and the chip leader at the table would move to the semi-finals.  Now, my usual strategy is to bet the minimum and let the others overbite until they blow out their respective bankrolls.

On the first hand, three of the six contestants at the table went “all in”–the dealer started with a natural. BAM…half of the table out on hand 1.

By hand 10, it was clear the lady to my right was in the lead by about 2k over the other player and me.  I was in third place and the guy to my far right in second place.  At hand 12 he went half-in and was dealt a 9 versus dealer 6…he doubled and was dealt an 8 for 17.  The dealer had an Ace underneath for soft 17 and drew a Queen for 17.  Still alive, he decided that luck was on his side and went all in.  The lady next to me had been betting more conservatively since hand 10 and I had upped my best, including scoring a natural with a 1k bet up.

So hand 13 began and the all in guy was dealt a 9,4 versus a dealer and busted.  Now it was only down to the lady and I.  At hand 14 we both bet the minimum, 100, and both lost.

The pit did a chip count and the tallies were extremely close:

lady: 10,200

me: 10,000

The button was to me and there was no “secret bet”–I could either go all in or just bet the minimum and hope that, should she also bet the minimum, that I would win and she would lose, thus ending in a tie and creating a 5 hand playoff scenario—but, since I bet first, I decided to go all in.

The lady to my right decided to bet 100.

The cards were dealt:

I was dealt a King, 10 and the lady a Jack 3.

She hit her hand and busted.

She turned and said “Congratulation!” — THE KISS OF DEATH!!!

Did she not realize that there was only one scenario where I would automatically win — that is, if the dealer had any card from 7 through 9.  A ten value card would push, leaving her to win by 100 and a 2 through 6 would result in the dealer drawing another card, which would then determine our mutual fates.

The dealer flipped over a King. A push. The lady advanced to the next round, beating me by 100.  I congratulated her, went to my room, packed my bags and left.

I was in a horrific mood.  Between the blackjack geniuses I played with that morning and losing by 100 in the first round of the tournament, I was not in the mood to remain in the casino any longer.  I have not been back since, taking blackjack mental health break.

I welcome your thoughts (or pity).


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