The UBT has since traveled to different tour stops including Aruba, St. Kitts, Barona in San Diego, Palms and Venetian in Las Vegas.
In addition anyone can qualify to play in a televised UBT match by either winning one of many satellite tournaments scheduled at casinos around the country or by winning an Internet tournament.
I had the chance to play in the first UBT matches at Lake Las Vegas. None of the blackjack players who played in this first UBT match had much experience playing the elimination format and it was a rude awakening. Whereas conservative betting might be appropriate for traditional tournaments, you had to be much more aggressive in the elimination format or you would wind up on the sidelines right quick.
This is what happened in my first round. On hand number 7, which is the hand before elimination hand #8, I was in the middle of the pack with my chip count. But two poker players, who had the lowest chip totals, went all-in and lost. This left only four of us on the next hand (the first elimination hand). As I stared at the chip counts of my fellow competitors I realized I was in bad shape. I had the lowest chip count and I was one of the first to bet. No surprise that I was eliminated on hand 8.
I fared a little better on my second preliminary round but also got eliminated (I believe it was hand 25 when I pushed and one of my competitors won his hand). On my third preliminary round I survived all three elimination hands and wound up playing against poker pro Annie Dukes on the last hand, which I won. I advanced to the semi-final round which I needed to win to make it to the televised Championship Round in Los Angles.
I survived the three elimination hands in this round and went down to the last hand against another blackjack player, Skip Samad. I needed to double down on my hard hand and win this last hand and hope that Skip lost his hand to have a shot at overtaking his chip total but it wasn’t to be ( I drew a picture card on the double down and busted).
I can say from my experience playing in the UBT that it’s no cake walk. You have to mentally play your best game and be aware of your chip count compared to your fellow players’ chip counts and then pray that you are not one of the first players to bet in an elimination hand (betting after your opponents is much more favorable because you get to see how much they bet and how much unbet chips they have).
If you are planning a trip to Las Vegas, you might want to consider stopping at the Venetian casino on Friday evenings. They have Sit-n-Goes UBT tournaments running continuously. You can either watch the action or try your luck. Plus you might just see some of the UBT celebrities who often show up.
The skills you need to master to be successful in an elimination tournament are:
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