World Series of Blackjack
Season 4
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Today is

WSOBJ Finals: Round 1, Match 1

Welcome back, y’all.  It’s time for the casino’s most popular card game, but in tournament form.  Vasgersian’s back, as are the Power Chips and Knockout Cards, but more importantly, there’s another $500,000 to be claimed by 1 of 40 of the best, brightest, and boldest blackjack players this side of a Vegas buffet.  Let’s meet our first five card sharks.

George Mandilaras
(AC Hilton Qualifier)

Dr. Jeff Bernstein

Christiane Hogenbirk
(Casino del Sol Qualifier)

Tiffany “Hot Chips” Michelle

Phil Dunaway
(Super Satellite Winner)


Fort Lauderdale, FL

Born in France
Lives in Tuscon, AZ

Pro Card Player
Los Angeles, CA

Pro Blackjack Player
Fairland, IN

It’s Season 4, so you know we do.  Let’s play 21.

The first Blackjack of the night comes to Christiane in Hand 2 for $6,000.  On that same hand, George hits on hard 17 to make 21, which beats Jessica’s holed 20 for a nice two grand.  In hand 3, Dr. Jeff blows 20K, busting in 4 cards, leaving him in a deep hole.  By hand 8, that hole gets even deeper.  Take a look.


How do you solve a problem like Dr. Jeff?  By going max bet.  Everyone else before him went 3, 5, or 6.  Against Dealer Jessica’s 9, Tiffany doubles her 9 for 5 large.  George doubles his 11 for 6.  Jeff has to Power Chip his 9-4 to make a 9-8.  Matt points out that a simple hit would’ve been a 21.  However, a dealer 17 keeps Jeff from total fallout, but Tiffany and George both make their doubles.

Jeff goes max again in hand 9, with Tiffany at 25 and Phil at 10.  The doctor stands up for a K, but sits for a 7.  The two next-high bidders are left with 12’s, but Tiff gets to 17 and Phil to 21.  While splitting 3’s, George picks up the Knockout Card en route to an 18 and 15.   Christiane confusingly surrenders 14, but Jeff’s 17 is what matters here.  Dealer shows 8, 14…………COMMERCIAL!  Damn you, cliffhangers!  Where was I?  Oh yeah.  14…….20!  That killed any chance of Dr. Jeff Bernstein to repeat, as the Knockout Round sent him packing with $1,000 cash and dashed hopes of a repeat.  So with 4 remaining and Phase 2 starting, here’s how they stand:

George starts to go big with 40 in Hand 11.  Tiffany gets 8’s and splits for 5 to get 15 and 18.  Dealer busts, so George takes the lead.  That hand is at the front end of a long chain of overs by Jessica, which means everyone wins as long as they stay in the hand.  During that streak, Phil makes $50,000 on a Power Chipped Double Down (the most combotastic play in cards), Tiffany gets a max blackjack for $75,000, and George survives everyone else surrendering (including Tiffany on a 6) to make another 50K.  Six busts later, it’s Hand 17 which starts out like this:

No insurance taken and none needed, so the hand goes on.  Tiffany ekes an 18.  George gets 19, and Christiane surrenders again.  Dealer makes 17, so the math says Tiffany goes to 242.5 and the lead over George’s flat 242.

Hand 18 shows Christiane tries to bet 55,000, but the house max is 50, so she’s stuck with that.  Phil gets drawn with the Knockout Card.  Everyone makes hands, save for the Dealer, which puts everyone with striking distance of each other.

What a fun way to go into the 2nd Knockout Round.  George leads with 10% of his quarter-mil.  Christiane and Phil go max, and Tiffany goes 30.  George goes bust here.  Christiane probably has to double her 12 to get anywhere, but she surrenders again?!  Tiffany and Phil are fine with 20’s.  Dealer shows 19, and that means Christiane Hogenbirk, who started off well, but started surrendering more times than the French (ironically), leaves in 4th with $2,000.  The marathon becomes a sprint now, as here are the standings heading into the final five hands. 

George (No Chip)


Phil (No Chip)




(First wager is underlined)

We also switch to blue cards, which have more health than the red ones we saw at first. (Little Zelda humor there)  The first two hands see significant losses as everyone starts to close ground on each other.  Tiffany splits Q-K for 30K and makes 21(!) and 15.  Alas, Jessica makes 18, which washes with Tiffany, but Phil bet 50K and lost, while George pushed.

Two to go.  Tiffany goes 30 again, while the men go max.  George hits a Maxjack for 75 large.  Tiffany gets 19, and Phil has to double his 9 against the 6.  Dealer busts again, which means we’re looking at a helluva finale.

George (No Chip)


Phil (No Chip)




(Aside: Watch Cat-Minster.  I had no interest in the competitive aspect, but I was squealing like a fangirl for the duration of the show.  How can you go wrong with 90 minutes of cats?)

FINAL HAND and in traditional WSOBJ fashion, everyone goes for 50 dimes.  George gets 10, Tiffany 17, and Phil gets…………….JACKPOT!  He gets a Maxjack at just the right time.  However, the Dealer 10 causes concern……which is quickly assuaged.  Phil takes his $75,000 instead of trying for the 100, so Phil ends the game at 310,500.  George doubles to try for 345, and Tiffany has a dilemma.  She will be using her Power Chip on her J-7, but the question is when.  She Chips the 7 and gets……another 7!  Ouch!  She doubles on the new 17 to try for the win with 342.5, which requires George to conk out and the dealer to make a hand.

Everyone’s still alive, so we need to see what the dealer has………13…………………23!  George Mandilaras takes the game with 345,000 in chips and $25,000 in cash.  Tiffany busts on her double, which drops her to 3rd and $3,000 cash, which means we’ll be seeing Phil Dunaway in the Wild Card Round with his $5,000.

It’s been an exciting opening night to what shapes up to be an exciting tournament, so don’t miss a moment when Matt and the gang return next Monday for the World Series of Blackjack.


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