Click here for the rules and an overview of the entire Season 4 of the World Series of Blackjack.
First aired on 6/4/07
George Mandilaras - Moved to America from Greece in 1978. Besides blackjack, he is also a huge fan of craps. He is the father of two grown sons.
Phil Dunaway - Phil worked for the phone company for 35 years, but now he's a professional blackjack player. He married his high school sweetheart. He also believes that Ken Einiger is the best player in the tournament.
Tiffany "Hot Chips" Michelle - 22-year-old Tiffany is an actress and a message therapist. A standout on the beauty pageant circuit, Tiffany won "Miss Teen Santa Clarita Valley" and made the top 10 in the "Miss Teen California" contest (while also being voted "Miss Congeniality"). She's known as "Hot Chips" for her unique chip-handling skills.
Christiane Hogenbirk - An avid fan of bridge, gin and poker, Ms. Hogenbirk has been retired for the past eight years. She qualified for the event by winning a tournament at the Casino Del Sol in Tucson, Arizona. She is also being cheered on by numerous family and friends back in France.
Dr. Jeff Bernstein - The defending 2006 World Series of Blackjack champion, Dr. Bernstein is a retired Miami police officer and holds a PhD in Psychology. He is also known as "Dr. Jeff" and "Orca the Killer Whale."
Summary: Dr. Jeff fell behind early in the game and was forced to make some big bets in order to catch up. Unfortunately, he only had $13,000 when the first KO card was drawn, and he became the first player of the season to be eliminated.
Meanwhile, 5 consecutive dealer busts lead to some big wins by the players. The lead changed several times, and George, Tiffany and Phil were all remaining for the final hand and within $10,000 of one another. All three bet the maximum. Phil got a blackjack but chose not to double down. George and Tiffany both doubled down, and George won his and finished in first. Tiffany lost and finished in third. Phil finished in second and earned a spot in one of the wild card matches.
First Aired on 6/11/07
"The Professor of Blackjack" Jeff Swenson - A 25-year veteran of blackjack tournaments, Jeff is employed as a Structural Engineering Consultant in Los Angeles. He's been married for 20 years and has 3 children.
Kami Lis - In the first World Series of Blackjack, Lis finished second and pocketed $65,000. She is also the only player to be a finalist in two World Series of Blackjack events. A resident of both Poland and Las Vegas, Lis speaks 3 languages fluently (plus a smattering of 3 others). She is currently working on her 2 nd Master's Degree (International Business) at Warsaw University and runs a market research firm.
Lon Johnson - A fan of blackjack since the age of 16, this father of two is also the president and owner of his own multi-million dollar mechanical contracting company. He stays sharp by playing several times each month.
Juan Cloud - Originally from Mexico, Juan is now retired and enjoying the life of a blackjack player. A veteran of over 20 tournaments, Juan was invited to play in the tournament as a guest of the Las Vegas Hilton.
Joe Malc - A retiree, Joe enjoys spending much of his free time developing his piano playing skills. He qualified by winning a satellite tournament at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Summary: Joe Malc makes the maximum bet of $50,000 on every hand. While this strategy worked well enough to qualify him for the tournament, his luck eventually runs out and he is the first to be eliminated. Kami, Lon and Jeff remained for the final hand, all within $10,000 of one another. All three made the maximum bet of $50,000. Lon busted, while Kami surrendered and cinched a second place spot. Jeff had 20, so all he had to do to win was surrender. He did, and advanced to the semi-final round. Kami earned a spot in the wild card match.
First Aired on 6/18/07
Alice Walker - Alice learned to play blackjack when she was just 13 years old. She hails from Houston, Texas where she works as the Director of the Audio/Visual Department for Omni Hotels. She considers her mother to be her good luck charm.
"Storming" Norm Sheridan - An actor in the 70s and 80s, Norm played blackjack to supplement his income. He has been playing the game for over 50 years and is a veteran of over 250 tournaments.
Joe "The Fish" Fisher - Joe has been playing in blackjack tournaments for 27 years. Married for 35 years, he works for General Motors in the Human Resources department.
Kacie Bergeron - A CPA and tax advisor, Kacie qualified at the Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma. She is admittedly a somewhat conservative blackjack player.
"Hollywood Dave" Stann - Also known as the "Bad Boy of Blackjack," Stann happens to be a member of MENSA and aspiring actor. A veteran blackjack pro, he is often recognized as the dealer from Celebrity Blackjack. He is also working on a book called "Hollywood Blackjack."
Summary: Hollywood Dave receives a series of bad hands and finds himself busted out of the game. Things quiet down after he's gone, and the remaining players get more serious. As people started being eliminated left and right, Alice Walker used her Burger King Power Chip to greatly increase her lead. On the final hand, Alice and Norm were the only players remaining. Unfortunately for Norm, he only had $6,250 in chips, while Alice had an impressive $95,000. Still, Norm managed to qualify for a wild card match while Alice automatically moved to the semi-finals.
First Aired on 6/25/07
Salomon Cohen-Botbol - The owner of a pharmaceutical company in Venezuela, Cohen-Botbol has been playing in blackjack tournaments for many years. He is also an avid fan of baseball.
Rick Jensen - A veteran of hundreds of blackjack tournaments, Rick is known for his trademark black cowboy hat. He owns a fund-raising Texas casino company.
Orel Hershiser - Named Sports Illustrated's Sportsman of the Year in 1988, Hershiser is a former big league pitcher and the only player to win a Cy Young award, Championship MVP and World Series MVP in the same year. He also serves as a commentator on ESPN's "Baseball Tonight."
Philip Richman - A former tournament water skier, Richman also loves to play golf. He's been making a living as a wholesale auto parts dealer since 1983. He has two daughters and considers them to be his biggest inspiration for winning the tournament.
Mikki Sullivan - A 25-year blackjack veteran, Ms. Sullivan is also an attorney. Ken Smith is her favorite player, as he reminds her of a childhood boyfriend. She qualified by winning a Las Vegas Hilton satellite tournament.
Summary: This match was marked by conservative play, and many were surprised when celebrity Orel Hershiser managed to survive both knockout rounds. In fact, Hershiser made it to the final table with $70,000 and was joined by Salomon ($86,750) and Rick ($78,000). Salomon bet $5,000, while Orel bet $40,000 and Rick $14,500. The dealer turned up an ace and Rick chose to take insurance in case of a dealer blackjack. Sure enough, the dealer had a blackjack, so Salomon won the match and Rick (thanks to the insurance) took second and qualified for a wild card spot.
First Aired on 7/02/07
Jarek Markowiak - Jarek came to the U.S. from Poland in 1981 and brought his love of blackjack with him. A filmmaker, he splits his time between Vegas and his home in Northern California. He's been married for 25 years.
"Rock and Roll" Darrell Arnold - After winning 61 trophies in his first year of tournament blackjack, Darrell was hooked. A Texas resident, he plans to finance and market his own music CD if he wins.
Caroline Rhea - Besides being a comedienne, Rhea is also host of television's "The Biggest Loser." Residing in both New York and Los Angeles, Rhea was the winner of Season One of GSN's Celebrity Blackjack.
Hans Schmid - A salesman by trade, Hans has made his home in Atlantic City, New Jersey for the past 25 years. He qualified by winning a tournament at the Atlantic City Hilton.
Eli Haber - Haber is the CEO of a lighting fixture company in Beverly Hills, California. He tries to play blackjack at least a dozen times a year, and he qualified through a tournament at the Las Vegas Hilton.
Summary: Hans Schmid comes right out and gets a blackjack on a $28,000 bet. He wants the other players to chase him, and Eli takes the bait and busts out on the fifth hand. Unfortunately for Hans, he gets wiped out on a KO hand, and only three players are left. By the final hand, it's down to Darrell and Jarek. Darrell had $141,250 and wagered $40,000, while Jarek bet $50,000 of his $104,500 total. Darrell stayed on 20, and Jarek doubled down on 15. Jarek then used his power chip to check his double down card. He decided to keep it, and he won the match when the dealer busted. Darrell qualified for the wild card match.
First Aired on 7/09/07
T.J. Boros - A real estate investor from Minnesota, Boros began playing blackjack at the age of 15. This will make the 4th blackjack tournament that he's participated in. He qualified through the Las Vegas Hilton.
Marlin Horseman - A veteran of 200 blackjack tournaments, Marlin is also a retired firefighter and published author. He's been married for 46 years and has one son and three grandchildren.
Penn Jillette - One half of the comedy/magic duo known as Penn and Teller, Gillette performs regularly in Las Vegas. He has also lectured regularly at MIT and Oxford. He has served as a movie producer, co-written three best-selling books, and also co-hosted the Showtime series "Bullshit."
Ken Smith - Ken has been married to his wife for 13 years and is a resident of Hattiesburg, Mississippi. A retired software engineer, Ken has played in over 2000 blackjack tournaments (and won 30 of them). He was voted the #1 blackjack player of the season by "All-In" magazine.
Helen Ho - Originally from Vietnam, Helen tries to play blackjack at least 4 times per month. She qualified through the Thunder Valley Casino in Lincoln, California.
Summary: On the fourth hand, Penn makes a max bet and loses. While things look grim for the magician, he manages to claw his way back into contention. Helen is eliminated on the first KO hand, and Ken Smith joins her when the second KO card is revealed. The final hand comes down to Penn ($275,000), Marlin ($330,500) and TJ ($339,000). Penn bet $50,000, Marlin bet $50,000, and TJ bet only $5,000. Marlin and Penn both doubled down and lost their bets, leaving TJ as the winner. Marlin took second place and a spot in the wild card match.
Click here for episodes 41-47.