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The Ultimate Blackjack Tour

Episode 1 Recap - September 16, 2006

This week's competitors included:

Seat 1 - Michael Castellana - He's been banned from casinos on six continents. Claims to be the best card counter in the world.

Seat 2 - "Hollywood" Dave Stann - Known as "The Bad Boy of Blackjack," Stann is the author of Hollywood Blackjack and an aspiring actor. You may also recognize him as the dealer from Celebrity Blackjack.

Seat 3 - Ken Smith - Ken has competed in the World Series of Blackjack and written numerous articles about the subject. He makes his home in Hattiesberg, Mississippi. Has won over 30 blackjack tournaments. (You can read more about Ken's blackjack website here: Blackjack

Seat 4 - Michael Postle - Made it into the tournament by winning an online qualifier.

Seat 5 - "Big" Chuck Gorson - Stands almost 7 feet tall and has won over 1 million dollars in tournaments over the last 15 years. Once owned a chain of modeling and talent agencies.

Seat 6 - Alex Brenes - Hailing from Costa Rica, Alex comes from the most well-known poker playing family in his country.

Seat 7 - "Miami" John Cernuto - Has won 3 bracelets at the World Series of Poker. Has more first place finishes at Omaha Hi-Lo than any other player in the history of poker.

The Action

UBT - Week 1 - Hands 1 through 7

On the very first hand, the dealer shows a King. With a special camera, we can also see that the dealer's down card is a nine. Dave Stann busts, while Alex decides to use a bit of strategy and surrender. Michael Castellana and John Cernuto beat the dealer, and Ken Smith hits a blackjack. After the first hand, Michael Castellana is in first place with $106,000.

After four hands of play, "Hollywood" Dave is in last place. With the Elimination Hand on the horizon, Dave knows he must make a move to keep from being eliminated. He bets $30,000 on Hand 5 and is dealt an 11. He boldly doubles down (talking trash all the while). If he loses this hand, it could very well signal his exit from the game. However, the dealer busts and an always excited Dave Stann vaults into the lead.

On Hand 7, Chuck bets $20,000 and loses, causing him to slide into last place.

UBT - Week 1 - Hand 8 - 1st Elimination Hand

Hand 8 is an Elimination Hand. If Chuck doesn't make a big move, he'll be eliminated from the tournament. He goes all in, wagering $74,000. Alex also opts for a big wager, pushing in $70,000 in chips. Dealer is showing an 8 with a 8 down card. Ken stays on a 20. Dave stands on an 18. Michael C. stands on a 19. Chuck draws to a 20, while Alex gets a 19. John Cernuto draws to a 21, and the dealer hits a 5 for a 21. This means that "Big" Chuck Gorson is the first player eliminated. Michael C. is now in the lead with $102,000.

UBT - Week 1 - Hands 9 through 15

On Hand 9, Alex attempts to improve his standing by going all-in. He hits to 13, then hits again and stays on a 17. Unfortunately, the dealer gets a 20 and Alex Brenes is eliminated.

A few hands later, Ken Smith decides to go all-in. As luck would have it, he hits a Blackjack and takes the lead over his competition.

On Hand 15, Michael C. goes all-in with $62,000. He gets a 12. Concerned that another hit might bring a 10 and bust him, he decides to stay. Dealer has a 16 but hits again. She busts, and Michael C. is back in the lead with $124,000.

UBT - Week 1 - Hand 16 - 2nd Elimination Hand

Hand 16 is another Elimination Hand. Michael Postle finds himself in last place. He uses his Secret Bet card and retires to the privacy of the booth. He decides to secretly wager $35,000 on the hand. John bets $4,000. Michael C. wagers $11,000. "Hollywood" Dave bets $14,000. Ken, meanwhile, wagers a very conservative $1,000. John Cernuto gets a blackjack, so he's not in danger of being eliminated. Michael P. decides to double down, while Michael C. draws a 9. He hits to 11, then to 13, then draws a King and busts. Dave stays on 15. The dealer has a 17. Michael Postle's down card is only a two, which means that he is the next player to be eliminated. We are now down to four players, with Michael C. in the lead with $113,000.

UBT - Week 1 - Hands 17 through 24

His lead soon ends, however, as Dave hits a Blackjack on Hand 19 and takes the lead.

On Hand 20, John makes a big wager to the tune of $77,000. He gets a 20 and looks to be in great shape, but a dealer Blackjack makes him the 4th player eliminated from the game.

UBT - Week 1 - Hand 25 - Final Elimination Hand

As we go into Hand 25 (the last Elimination Hand), Michael C. is in the lead with $164,000. He bets $25,000 on the hand. Dave Stann is sitting at $100,000 and decides to use his Secret Bet Card. After making a spectacle of himself, he heads off to the booth and wagers $91,000. Ken Smith is at $128,000 and decides to wager a hefty $73,000. Michael gets a 14, while Dave gets a 13, and Ken receives an 18. The dealer shows an Ace as their up card.

Dave only bets $1,000, hoping to trick Ken Smith into making a large insurance bet, but his plan doesn't work. Michael draws to 17, while Dave once again goes to the privacy booth. This time, he's using his Secret Action Card to double down. Michael and Ken win, so it comes down to Dave's cards. He needs to get an 8 or lower, and he does. He ends up on 19 and eliminates Michael C. by virtue of chip count. Ken Smith is now in the lead with $201,000, and we are down to our last two players.

UBT - Week 1 - Hands 26 through 30 - Hollywood Dave Stann versus Ken Smith

On Hand 26, Ken bets $3,000, while Dave wagers $18,000. The dealer is showing a 2, but flips up the Queen as her down card. She hits on 12 and busts. Dave gets a 15. Ken draws an 18. Both men win.

On Hand 28, Dave bets $6,000 and Ken bets $23,000. Dave is dealt a 13, while Ken is looking at a 12. The dealer is showing a King. Dave hits to 19 and stands. Ken also hits to 19 and stands. The dealer reveals her down card to be a Jack, and both men lose. Since Ken wagered more, this allows Dave to take the lead by $25,000.

On Hand 29, Ken decides to use his Secret Bet card and wagers $24,000. He's trying to goad Dave into making a large bet. Dave bites on the trick and risks $61,000. Dave gets a 13, while Ken has a 14. The dealer is showing a Jack. Ken uses his Secret Action card and heads to the booth. Once inside, he reveals that he's making a Double Down bet of $1,000. Back at the table, Dave hits on 13 and gets a 6, taking him to 19. He stays. Since he doubled down, Ken gets a card face down. The dealer reveals her down card to be a King, giving her a total of 20. Dave loses. Ken's down card turns out to be a 4, giving him a total of 18. He also loses. But since Dave wagered more, Ken is able to take the lead.

On the 30th and final hand, Dave is sitting on $121,000 in chips, while Ken has the advantage with $142,000. Whoever has the most chips at the end of this hand will be the winner. Dave bets $65,000. Ken uses strategy and bets the exact same amount. Since he has the lead, mirroring Dave's actions should allow him to maintain his advantage. Dave is dealt a 7, and Ken receives a Jack. The next cards bring Dave's total to 16. Ken also ends up with 16. Dealer is showing a 10. Dave doubles down, and Ken does the same.

Dealer flips over their down card to reveal a 3, giving her a total of 13. Dealer hits and stands on a 17. Dave hits and receives a 2, bringing his total to 18. He beats the dealer. Ken needs a 2, 3, 4, or 5 to stay in the lead and win the game. He gets a 5 for a total of 21. Ken Smith wins the game. He receives a UBT medallion, a spot in the Tournament of Champions event, and a nice chunk of prize money.

UBT Next Week

The next episode of the Ultimate Blackjack Tour airs on September 23rd, when they will be traveling to Aruba for the Aruba Classic. Competing in that event will be poker player Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari, and others.

Ultimate Blackjack Tour - Episode 1 - Episode 2 - Episode 3 - Episode 4 - Episode 5 - Episode 6

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