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Joe Pane - Blackjack Player

Joe Pane - Retired Police Office, Excellent Blackjack Player

Joe Pane is a retired Brooklyn police officer and one of the most accomplished blackjack players in the world. He is a veteran of over 500 blackjack tournaments and has won over half a million dollars during his career. Joe is known as an excellent chip counter who excels in the final hands of tournament style blackjack. Currently living in Las Vegas, Pane writes for the Blackjack Insider website and is the co-host of the live radio gambling show Be In Action (where he discusses upcoming tournaments and gives tips for tournament play).

He was featured on Season 2 of the World Series of Blackjack, competing against Rene Angelil, Katya Underhill, "Hollywood" Dave Stann, and Kevin Blackwood. His banter with "Hollywood" Dave was roundly considered to be a high point of the show's second season.

Blackjack Tournament Tips from Joe Pane

While he is an accomplished blackjack player, Joe Pane is also skilled at articulating various blackjack tips and strategies. Below, I have paraphrased some of his expert advice. No doubt, it can be of benefit to any blackjack player regardless of their level of experience.

  • Pane has said that the biggest mistake he sees novice players making in tournament style blackjack is to bet like it's a regular blackjack game. In blackjack, you are playing against the house and the dealer. In tournaments, you are competing against the other players. Because of this difference, your bets must be influenced by your opponent's bet and the results of his or her hand.

  • It is generally never a good option to make a big bet early in the round. But if you're at a table with tournament pros and have a bad betting position on the final hand, then the wise move may be to make a move earlier in order to force your opponents to catch you. Otherwise, they will simply mirror your moves and keep you from taking the lead.

  • Being able to count stacks of chips with a glance is a very important skill. Joe is on record as saying that he would practice by placing stacks of different colored chips in every room of his house. Then, when he would walk into a room, he would glance at the stack and try to guess its value.

  • If you need to win a hand, it's best to use the basic blackjack playing strategy. But if you find yourself behind on the last hand, forget about strategy and do whatever it takes to get ahead of your opponent.

  • The best time to increase the size of your bets is when other players cannot mirror the. It's also best to make one large bet to regain the lead instead of trying to make several smaller ones. The chances of winning a hand are 44%, so you have a better chance of winning one hand as opposed to several hands.

  • Once you have gained the lead, your main objective should be to maintain it. If your opponents are betting conservatively, and you must bet first, it's best to bet somewhere between half to a third of your lead. But if you bet behind your opponents, it's a good idea to simply mirror their bets. If an aggressive player is betting behind you, it might be wise to bet almost all your lead in chips. This way, if they try to pass you and lose the hand, it will most likely cripple their bankroll.

  • In tournament blackjack play, there are many factors to keep track of. Because of this, card counting is probably not worth the effort. If, however, you can accurately keep track of the count and your opponent's chip total, then it might give you a slight advantage.

  • When playing in a face-down blackjack tournament, it is crucial that you protect your hand and not allow other players to see your cards.

  • On the last hand of a tournament blackjack match, the players are usually given 30 seconds to make their decisions. If other players act before you, take the extra time to count their chips and decide how you will play your hand. Don't wait until it's your turn to make the decision.

Joe Pane made headlines when he filed a lawsuit against Green Valley Ranch Station Casino, in which he claimed to have been banned from casinos and gambling tournaments due to being depicted as a cheat on a gambling reality show.

The suit stems from a specific episode of the Discovery Channel series "American Casino," which depicted Pane playing in a high-end blackjack tournament at Green Valley Ranch. Earlier that day, he had participated in another tournament for locals, and he was asked to sign a release form so that he could be taped for the show.

He claimed that he was told the show would "spotlight the fun and excitement of a blackjack tournament" and that "his play at the table should be boisterous and he should exhibit braggadocio throughout his play." But the suit went on to claim that casino management intended to "paint Pane as a cheater, an undesirable, and someone who dirties up games." The producers of the show were also named in the suit.

Pane claims that the show was highly edited in order to make it appear that he had somehow slipped into the high-end tournament. He said he was labeled a cheat to spice up what would have been an otherwise ordinary episode about a blackjack tournament.

Since the episode aired, Pane has been kicked out of Las Vegas casinos and barred from more than one blackjack tournament. "My whole life has been in law enforcement catching bad guys," Pane said. "And now I'm being treated like one."

But despite these troubles, Pane is still highly respected in the gambling community. Recently, he qualified for the Ultimate Blackjack Tour, which you can catch on Saturdays at 2 P.M. Eastern on CBS.

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