Some thoughts on TBJ, Poker, and Skill Versus Luck, and the Consequences

Discussion in 'Sidewalk Cafe' started by RKuczek, Feb 12, 2009.

  1. RKuczek

    RKuczek Member

    In some past posts, Ken Smith stated that he considered the 'expert range' in tbj to be 20% to 50% edge. S.Yama stated it was 30% to 60% edge. Let's accept that a tbj 'expert' plays in the 20% to 60% edge range. Let us also accept that no one consistently plays above 60% over the long term. I might give both Ken and S.Yama the benefit of the doubt on that, but not by much, and do not believe anyone else plays at or above 60%. So what does that mean, and can we compare tbj edges with poker edges for expert poker players? I think so. Phil Helmuth has 11 WSOP bracelets, collected over 20 years of play, competing, frequently, against fields of more than 1,000 players. If there was a legitimate World Series of Blackjack, under comparable conditions, how many tournaments would the best tbj players in the world expect to win over their careers? Well, figure they ran 20 - 30 - 40 tournaments each year (as the WSOP has) and the average tournament field is 1,296 players, in the ball park for a WSOP tournament for sure. Also a number that works well for tbj. You couldn't really play all the tourneys, Helmuth doesn't, but, let's say you can get in one-half of them each year. Now, say, our tbj expert plays 15 of the tournaments each year, so over twenty years he would have played 300 tournaments in our mythical WSOBJ. Probably about the number Helmuth has actually played at the WSOP. With a 60% edge, meaning he is either Ken Smith or S.Yama, his odds of winning any individual tournament, with single advance tables and no rebuys (the WSOP doesn't allow rebuys or addons) would be a 0.0051 probability. About 1/2 of 1%. Over his 300 tourneys, the expectation would be he would win 1.51 tournaments. Compare that with Helmuth's 11 wins. A reasonable assumption based on these unreasonable calculations, is that Helmuth must enjoy about a 437% edge over the average WSOP player. That dwarfs the 60% edge the very best tbj players can manage.

    Poker is simply a much more skillful game than tbj; by that I mean there is much more opportunity for skillful play to affect the outcome of the table. So poker players can develop much higher edges than tbj players can. Almost all poker tournaments are raked, frequently with rakes of 10% or more, I believe the WSOP has an 8% rake. When you have a 400% edge, you don't care about a 10% rake. Your advantage is more than great enough to overcome the rake, cover your buyin and cover travel costs; you'll easily make money in the long run. But if you're a tbj player and struggling along with a measly 50% edge, it is hard enough covering your buyins and rebuys, forget travel costs, and you certainly do not want a rake to take away from your ev.

    Is it any wonder that tbj has developed a culture of 'evaluating the ev' of every tournament, and rejecting those that have negative ev? rejecting the concept of raked tournaments? TBJ players live and die by the casino's willingness to add in money to the prize pool, preferably lots of money. If they don't we don't play; of course, if they do, then the tournament becomes a high roller promo for the casino, and we then complain when the casino sets it up to benefit and attract their high rollers. Bottom line, unless tbj play advances to the point where players can develop higher edges, so that they can accept raked games, then tbj is doomed to be a promo event for the casinos.

    Our best option, if we want games where we can exercise the maximum edge we can manage, is to get casinos to standardize tbj on a reasonable set of rules, that give maximum scope for skillful play, such the TBJPA rules Rick has developed. And do not meekly accept garbage rules like 'mulligans' and 'power chips' and 'secret bets' and such. The casinos can still comp in their highrollers, and, we can get a reasonable game for our money. Maybe someday.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2009
  2. matador

    matador Member

    really good thoughts

    Clearly your on the right track. Nothing proved it more than last year Winstar Tournament. I know of several very skilled players that played all five months and did not make it to the finals. I also know Doc (placed 2nd) played all 5 and got in in the final month.

    If we could only convince the casinos to reduce the luck factor it would be a great day.
  3. Lil Sissy

    Lil Sissy Banned User

    There are two points of the original post in this topic that I differ with. I'm not an expert in this field at all but I do believe and understand what rules help weaker players level the playing field.Mulligans and Power Chips would qualify as a tool for weaker players as they can change their hand and even a rank beginner would know when they are looking at a losing hand and then have the option to change a card to help improve their hand.In my opinion the Secret Bet option makes good players even better as they can hide not only their bets but actions on their hand, this is a tool that when used by the good players hinders a weaker player because the weaker player has no sense of where they stand on their hands vs. the others players bets or actions on the hand.

    The other point I differ with is the possible 60% skill factor, if that was really true your examples of Ken Smith and Yama would have them winning a lot more tournaments. I cant or do not recall any wins for these 2 players in the last 2 or 3 years.You are also leaving out a number of players who skill level is at least on par with your 2 players if not better.The only blackjack tournament ranking system ever established did not have your 2 players anywhere near the top,so lets give credit where credit is due Ken and Yama are good players no question to that but there are a number of others who’s hard work and dedication to the game needs to be acknowledged.

    I will not belabor the point by naming all of the top players of the game because anyone who is a long term member here is aware of who they are.

    I have learned from them and I appreciate their continued sharing of knowledge of tournaments both here and on the Las Vegas Advisor blackjack forum.
  4. RKuczek

    RKuczek Member

    a brief response

    to Lil Sissy's comments

    A good player is a good player because of their ability to use the information available and make high probability plays based on that information - secret bets conceal information. Many elements of the game, as played in different casinos, can be used 'skillfully' - such as secret bets and elimination hands on UB - but - they can still reduce the over all skillfulness of the game, some players will just see their edges reduced less than others. So I don't agree with the arguement that secret bets or elimination hands somehow 'add skill' to the game - they both reduce information and increase variance - they make the game less skillful. That's my opinion.

    Second - I certainly have not played against all the good players in the world - but have played a few of them - both in live tournaments and online - Ken and S.Yame are the two best that I have played, and, moreover, in my judgement, they both are not only better than the others, but they play on a different level. Again, that is my opinion. As for winning tournaments, I do not know all the winners of all the invitational tournaments played, who was in them, all the tournaments Ken and S. played, etc. - so can't say how many they have won or how they finished. My whole comment was that tbj is simply a much less skillful game than poker - and so even the best players can't expect to win consistently, and winning is more about the luck than the skill. My opinion, Ken and S. are the two best, by a noticible margin, but not even they could match the win percentage of a great poker player like Helmuth - because of the nature of tbj as a less skillful game.

    As far as the 'ranking system' you mention - I do believe that was a device developed to shill for UBT and to boost the image of the players comped into all the UBT tournaments. It was not even close to a fair and comprehensive ranking of all tournament players. I don't assign any credibility to it what-so-ever.
  5. Lil Sissy

    Lil Sissy Banned User

    Your reference to the crediabilty of the All In magazines ranking system could not be more misleading.

    The ranking system as far as I have read and know, was that only tournaments that were not invitionals and were open to all players counted in the standings.These were the only tournaments that counted towards the ranking system.That would seem to me to be a fair way to establish a open ranking system and not one that your imply to be biased towards certain players or an organization.

    The majority of the # 1 Ranked player points who for anyone who didn't know was Joe Pane were earned at the Imperial Palace Tournament in Biloxi that was open to all players and the Hilton's Million Dollar tournament that was also open to all players.These tournaments I remind you were not UBT tournaments but ones that anyone could have played in and Ken Smith played in the IP Tournament and Yama played in both of these events.

    To not consider Joe as one of the top players is just in my opinion a farce, and makes your player ranking opinion short on substance.Joe's tournament results in 2007 were nothing short of impressive and his #1 ranking was well earned and should not be discounted or tainted based on your misinformation or your input of credibility on how the ranking system worked.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2009
  6. LeftNut

    LeftNut Top Member

    C'mon, folks, this has the possibility of being a very good discussion thread that might garner some deep thoughts from many of the great TBJ minds who frequent this forum. Let's keep it that way, and not descend into another cesspool of cheapshots at each other. Please. :p
  7. Billy C

    Billy C Top Member

    No Need

    As far as I'm concerned, there's no need for player rankings beyond the usual terms we tend to use (tough player, conservative, plunger, lucky, etc.)
    Those that play tourneys regularly know who the skilled players are and probably know the term that best describes themselves.
    I always say I'm UNLUCKY. Bet nobody else uses that one!

    Billy C
  8. Monkeysystem

    Monkeysystem Top Member Staff Member

    Just A Few Simian Thoughts

    The reason the luckbox factor is more prevalent in blackjack tournaments than in poker tournaments is that blackjack tournament rounds are usually only about 20-25 hands. This small statistical population of hands lends itself to high variance, i.e. luck. In most poker tournaments, especially major ones, you have to survive many more hands than that. This higher number of hands lends itself to lower variance, reducing the luckbox factor.

    In statistics, the formula for variance puts the sample population in the denominator of a fraction, creating an inverse relationship between variance and sample size. Investment analysts use variance as a measure of risk - why not gamblers?

    Another factor favoring poker over tournament blackjack as a skill game is that poker is a zero-sum game. Blackjack is not. Poker players play against each other directly. Blackjack tournament players play directly against the dealer and only indirectly against each other. Because of this, the top poker players have more opportunity to use game theory models in developing their strategies than blackjack tournament players do.

    The bounty format they came up with at Tulsa is intriguing because it compensates for this factor.

    Secret bets are fertile ground for research into the use of game theory for analyzing blackjack tournament situations. I think many of the best ebj players have instinctively and skillfully applied game theory ideas to the secret bet to give themselves a competitive advantage.

    Eliminations give knowledgeable players more chances to apply their knowledge than traditional formats. This advantage for skilled players may be partially or completely offset by the high variance present in the 8-hand mini-rounds played in ebj, however.

    My own unscientific observation was that when ebj first came out online, the same few players consistently advanced through tournaments. As time went by and the new players gained experience, these same few players didn't enjoy such dominating results any more. This unscientific observation lends itself to the theory that eliminations favor skill over luck.

    One last comment here. We all know Joep is a great player; his results speak for themselves.
  9. TXtourplayer

    TXtourplayer Executive Member

    Skill/Knowledge vs. The Luck factor

    Boy has this topic been brought up a few times here, it can really push the right buttons to fire up some members here.

    I for one believe the Luck factor is HUGH in card tournaments where you see tournament after tournament where some crazy thing happens on a key hand that swings the entire leader board around, normally the final hand where anything goes.

    Example from last week at the Golden Nugget tournament, BobH was BR1 going into the final hand of the semifinals (only one advance). He match bets with BR2 of $2,000, the cards came out, BR2 had face and 5 for 15 and DD another $2,000 and caught another 5 for 20. BobH had 6 and 5 for 11, he also DD for another $2,000, only he caught a 6 for 17 (an 10 value would have made him the table winner). The dealer had a 3 up and drew two more cards to make a 17 and push BobH and allow BR2 to advance to the finals.

    Now some will say it was skill that BR2 knew to DD (really knowledge/common sense), other that BR2 was lucky. But what about BobH, he was skillful and knew what to do, yet he lost and with a better starting hand and a lot higher percentages to win so was BobH just unlucky? If BobH was unlucky though skillfully played wouldn't the same logic have to be made that BR2 though skillful was lucky?

    I think S. Yama is without a doubt one of the top tournament players is the world and I've never disagreed with any of his percentage's before, but here I have to question (not disagree), because the percentages change from situation to situation. There are so many different rules and formats that increase the luck factor for tournament play the percentages would have to be different for each tournament based on the format and rules.

    You have so many things to consider in what may add to the luck factor in tournament-to-tournament and also making an event more skill based. Is there limit betting or unlimited? Is surrender offered, insurance, DD for less? How many players per table, how many advance per table, how many hands are played per session, are wild cards used, (can't tell me getting picked as a wild card is skill) just to mention a few things.

    Winstar was brought up as an example, last year in the first qualifier both S. Yama and myself were knocked out in the semifinals on the last hand because of two of their rules.

    1) No bet limit
    2) 2 for 1 blackjack payoff

    Of course you should know the end of this story without me finishing, but on both of are tables we had a player go all in and hit blackjack to beat us (on S. Yama's table it was the only way he could lose. Had either of these rules been different probably both of us would have made the final table. We both played it skillfully, but beaten out by the luck of the draw.

    Now I’ve mentioned a couple of examples of bad luck, but I bet members could fill up page after page of similar stories about bad beats on final hands. Bottom-line is it happens and it happens to all of us. Not one tournament will you ever play in where someone on at least one table in every round or session doesn't have a bad beat?

    I want to be the skillful player, but I damn sure want to be the lucky player when it counts.
  10. KenSmith

    KenSmith Administrator Staff Member

    For the record, I played a total of 10 blackjack tournaments in 2008, and had one first place.
  11. Billy C

    Billy C Top Member

    Not Bad

    I've always felt if I could make final TABLE about 5% of the time I am happy. WINNING 10% of tourneys entered is very, very, very good IF it can be done long term.
    The state of Minnesota holds several excellent tournament players which makes me wonder how people that smart can elect Al Franken???????????

    Billy C
  12. KenSmith

    KenSmith Administrator Staff Member

    Wouldn't that be nice indeed. No, I'm afraid my results of one first place win in only ten attempts is not sustainable.

    If I recall correctly, I had no first place finishes at all in 2007, my first year ever for that to happen. I haven't checked to see how many events I played that year but I'm sure it was more than 10, but likely under 20. (Big difference when I think back to my early years playing more than 100 events per year!)

    The reality these days is that I'm just not playing very many events, both by choice and by necessity. I've been spending most of my casino time in other ways. Perhaps the ever-changing casino environment will again make tournaments a better choice for my schedule soon. We'll see.
  13. Billy C

    Billy C Top Member


    Guess you're driving that nice car, too. How do you like it so far? Surprise us and show up at an event. Better yet, let us know ahead of time so we can plan to be there.
    I don't like the competition you provide but it's always a pleasure talking with you.
    Is Brett Favre done for good this time? I think so.

    Billy C
  14. TXtourplayer

    TXtourplayer Executive Member

    Players Ranking Systems

    Ranking systems for now anyway are un-important unless their is some sort of prize for at the year end of a structured schedule of events that are open to all players and with no cut off amount on the number of entries.

    Also a BIG issue is location for these ranking events. For example if we held 12 events (one monthly) and they were all held in Las Vegas that wouldn't be fair to all the other players who have to travel in each month. Now chances are most players will have to do some travel regardless where the events are held, but at least the Vegas players would have to travel some as well.

    To get a "TRUE" rating EVERY PLAYER has to have a chance to play in every event. Now if they do or not is up to each player.

    Only two ranking systems have been held that I know of.

    1) T.B.J.P.A. who's top rated player was Dr. Bass who made like 6 or 7 final tables and in at Laughlin made every final table for all three final tournaments going 3rd, 2nd, and 1st. and these ratings were only for T.B.J.P.A. events count counting any other final tables he made.

    2) All In who's top players was JoeP rated as their top player and he also had a great year, 1st at LVH match play, 1st at IP in Biloxi, and again 4th at IP (I believe it was 4th).

    Both these players won and at different locations, not just in local events and both had great years.

    How should a player be ranked? By the amount of money won? Number of events won? How they advance in all tournaments they enter?

    I think all the above should come in play. I personally think it is harder to consistantly advance in most every
    tournaments then making one final table over a years time and those players should be awarded points on a ranking system and not just for making a final table, nor should a player be awarded points just for showing up to an event.

    Points awarded in an increasing amount based on advancment seems to me to be the best way for rating the players. Of course those who play the most will have the shot at collecting the points so again to be fair I think an average should be put into play with minuses to players who do not play and a set number of tournaments that players must play in to even qualify for a ranking, similar to how MLB ranks players batting averages.

    A ranking system is really just a mood point unless someone gets a structured blackjack tour going and the casinos agree to a set format and rules regulated similar to what TX Hold'em goes by.
  15. RKuczek

    RKuczek Member

    more responses to Lil Sissy

    Lil Sissy

    I say: "As far as the 'ranking system' you mention - I do believe that was a device developed to shill for UBT and to boost the image of the players comped into all the UBT tournaments. It was not even close to a fair and comprehensive ranking of all tournament players. I don't assign any credibility to it what-so-ever."

    you say: "The ranking system as far as I have read and know, was that only tournaments that were not invitionals and were open to all players counted in the standings.These were the only tournaments that counted towards the ranking system.That would seem to me to be a fair way to establish a open ranking system and not one that your imply to be biased towards certain players or an organization.

    The majority of the # 1 Ranked player points who for anyone who didn't know was Joe Pane were earned at the Imperial Palace Tournament in Biloxi that was open to all players and the Hilton's Million Dollar tournament that was also open to all players.These tournaments I remind you were not UBT tournaments but ones that anyone could have played in and Ken Smith played in the IP Tournament and Yama played in both of these events.

    To not consider Joe as one of the top players is just in my opinion a farce, and makes your player ranking opinion short on substance.Joe's tournament results in 2007 were nothing short of impressive and his #1 ranking was well earned and should not be discounted or tainted based on your misinformation or your input of credibility on how the ranking system worked."

    First off - not all open tournaments were included in the All-In ranking system, very few were. To be included the tournaments had to contacvt All-In and pay a fee. Very few did that, however, all the UBT tournaments were included. Almost all the major tournaments included were UBT. A very biased sample, to say the least.

    Second, I never made any comment on Joe Pane. In fact, I have never commented on what I think of Joe's playing skills in any forum at any time. To turn a comment on the credibility of the All-In ranking system into my somehow dissing Joe is disingenious at best, or, more honestly, a lie and distortion.

    Third: any experienced player knows that the results of one or two tournaments does not establish or reflect a players skill level, anyone can win a tournament, and the best players in the world can have a long string of losing tournaments. That is the level of luck in tbj play, that is precisely what I was commenting on. If you truely believe that the All-in rankings reflect the long term skill level of the players ranked, then please let me hear your arguement that Aaron Tribble is one of the best tournament blackjack players ever, because according to the All-In rankings he must be.

    Your senseless ranting and distortion of what I actually posted establishes your own lack of credibility.
  16. RKuczek

    RKuczek Member

    more responses to everyone other than Lil Sissy

    We can argue relative skill levels and how to measure them endlessly. I think it comes down to how much return on investment you get, year in and year out. Figure out your net profit, taking into account all tournament related expenses, and you can get a pretty good idea of how good a player you are.

    But the issue I was trying to get at, isn't how to rank players, or who are the best players, but the inherent lack of skillfulness in tbj. It doesn't matter if you are the best tbj player in the world (whoever you think that may be), you have only a very small edge over the average player. At a seven player table, single advance, the average player advances 1 of 7 times. The best TBJ player in the world, 1 of 5. Whoopie.

    Over the long run, a very good player can win money, and edges do accumulate over series of tables, but to win enough, consistently enough, to cover tournament related expenses, such as travel, maybe qualifying play losses (for invitationals), etc. - and to do so year in and year out, is a low margin game.

    For players with lower edges, though they may still be good players, overcoming any house rake makes it even tougher.

    So we look for positive ev tournaments. And that means we support tournaments that casinos run as promos, and put up with all kind of wierd gimmicks. I played one tournament where you got paid 3-1 for a suited bj. Reality is that if a casino is running a tournament as a promotion, it WANTS the outcome to be decided by luck as much as possible, so that its comped high rolling losers have an equal chance of winning, they do not want skilled players coming in and taking their money and their high rollers going away unhappy.

    I don't think we will ever get an environment where casinos run positive ev tournaments, as open tournaments, and use rules that emphasize skillful play. That would be counter to the casino's best interest. When a casino does that, we need to support that.

    But if we want skillful tbj tournaments, with reasonable and fair rules, and, hopefully standardized rules, then we need to bite the bullet and accept raked tournaments, and a pretty considerable rake at that. When the casinos see they can make money off of tbj, they will give us decent tourneys. Unfortunately, that means it will just be that much harder to make money at tbj.
  17. Lil Sissy

    Lil Sissy Banned User

    You need to do your homework


    One would think that if you were going to take the time and effort to report on something that you seem to have an interest in you would at least do ample research so that when you did report on it there would be no errors in the facts that you present to all members here.

    Your lack of attention to facts and details leaves me and others to believe you have an agenda about the All In Ranking system or the UBT or maybe both.

    According to Anthony Curtis and the All In staff there was never a fee required of casinos to pay to have their tournaments count in the overall rankings.

    Actually just the opposite was true, the casinos and their tournaments were given free ad space if they wanted their tournaments listed in the magazine.The only requirement was that they report the results to the magazine and its staff so the points earned by players were included in the monthly updates.

    There were actually more non UBT tournaments than UBT tournaments that players earned points in that were used to determine the overall champion.

    No tournaments that were invitionals or comped/free events were included in the ranking system.Just another example of your misleading facts. All tournaments had to have a cash buy in and be open to all players to be eligible for points.

    All of Rick Jensen's TBJPA tournaments were counted, all of the multiple week long Cherokee Casinos blackjack tournaments were counted along with Hiltons Million Dollar tournament and at least 2 of the IP Biloxi tournaments,along with other casinos tournaments across the USA.

    So there was no biased to any players or locations of tournaments or organizations. The only bias that seems to be present is your opinion towards the blackjack tournament ranking system that was developed with input from Ken Smith and Anthony Curtis and Blair Rodman Kenny Einiger and Joe Pane just to name a few of the top players who opinions were sought on how best to develop a fair ranking system.

    I hope Mr. Smith will weigh in on the fact that his input was sought and some of his ideas along with the other players were used.

    Why would you try to knock something down that right from the beginning had nothing but good intentions for the tournament community?

    Unless my point of your agenda is really the problem here.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2009
  18. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    Here we go again....

    Ain't gonna touch this one, other than to say that the "All In Ranking System" and the "UBT" are both history and have forever fallen by the wayside, so it really doesn't matter anyway....

    The "best of the best" hands down, in my "humble" opinion has to be the person from whom we never hear him toot his own horn. Congratulations to the best living Tournament Player in the World; the one and only Ken Smith!


  19. TXtourplayer

    TXtourplayer Executive Member

    As I stated in my above post, ranking don't matter since we have no set tour, format and rules. Once we can get those in place then we can worry about ranking systems.

    As far as Dr. Bass and JoeP winning top honors in the two different ranking systems posted above, I would have to agree with both of them. Both players had successful years and each deserving of the awards.

    Personally I can't think of any other two players that had as good of year for each of those ranking systems. I will mention Adrain Jade and John Ressman as two others high up in the running for the "All In" rankings, they both had great years as well. And had the rank started just a little earlier, Norm S. would have had to be mentioned in the running as well taking down the $250,000 at the LVH. As far as the T.B.J.P.A. Dr. Bass was a run away points winner.

    If we had a yearly ranking system in place over the past 10 years, I'd bet that not one person would have won the top ranking more then once. Too many good players around.

    This last year I wasn't around that much, but from everything I heard I'd have to think Roy Vest would have taken top honors.

    There are several very good players who have never won a tournament. If there was ever a team competetion I can think of about 5 players that never won or haven't in several years that I'd have on my team in a heart beat.
  20. RKuczek

    RKuczek Member


    I apologize for the error on the fee; for some reason it was stuck in my head that All-In was charging a small fee to have a tournament listed for their rankings. Evidently this was wrong. Maybe there were more non-UBT tournaments listed as well, than I thought, but, I will stick to my statement that the All-In rankings were biased towards UBT. For Rick's tournaments, the prize pools were not big enough for them to have more than an incidental impact on the rankings. My best memory is that the number of tourneys of sufficient size to actually have impact were majority UBT. If someone has a listing of tourneys and rankings from All-In, I would actually like to see it. I did try researching the All-In bjt rankings before I made my post, but All-In seems to have forgotten they used to do bj, as they had nothing on their website, and my copies of the mag are long gone.

    For Lil Sissy - Again you distort and lie - referencing my mythological 'agenda' - what 'agenda' would that be? And why would I even have one on this? And just how did your eagle-eye detect it? Thanks for pointing out the error on the fee; further responses actually relevant to what I posted would be nice.

    As Rick said, any ranking system would pop up very different people each year, often people would be highly ranked who were beginning players, and maybe with very limited or no skills, because they lucked out in one big tourney. As was the case with several persons highly rated in the all-in rankings. Personally, I think there is a fairly small group of skilled players which would contribute some of the highly ranked names each year, but no player would dominate every year.

    But again back to the point I actually brought forth originally: there is very little margin for skill in tbj, the very best players have only a slim margin over the average player, and even the worst can win any given tournament. TBJ is inherently a much less skillful game than poker. Which is probably why I suck at poker even more than I do at TBJ. And I do believe that has affected the development of the game, both in the nature, number, and scope of tournaments offered, and in how and what elements of skillful play have been developed. Gimmicks which increase variance and conceal information may be 'skillfully' used, but, that does not mean they make the game itself more skillful. It just means that the players who use those elements well suffer less of a loss of edge than other players will. And the unskilled players will have more of a chance to win in tournaments with such gimmicks, which, after all, is why the casinos like gimmicks.

    I think if we want lots of good tournaments, we MUST encourage casinos to standardize on a set of rules that emphasize skillful play, such as the TBJPA rules, and actively discourage casinos from offering tournaments with gimmicks, by registering complaints and refusing to play in them, and letting the casinos know they are losing customers by gimmicking up their tournaments. We should also encourage casinos who want to use tbj as a promotion to do so by offering open tournaments with good rules, then comping their high rollers into them, adding the high roller's buy-in into the prize pool. And we need to encourage that those tourneys be raked tourneys, so that the casinos see some return for their effort, not based on high roller side action. I also think we need to encourage the casinos to offer SNGs along with their tourneys. For tbj, the SNG is the equivalent of the cash game for poker. Casinos don't expect poker players to give them side action by playing slot machines, they get their rake and maybe the poker tournament players will get into the cash games. For tbj, they should not expect side action from the tourney players at the bj tables, that's a different game, they should create opportunity for tbj side action through offering SNGs.

    And they should promote the tourneys as an opportunity for their regular players to go head to head with the best tbj players. A lot of poker players like the idea of sitting down at a tourney table with a Phil Helmuth or other top pro; they may lose, but it is something to brag about. How about encouraging that same way of thinking about playing against a Ken Smith or S.Yama?

    Also - we need to develop more skillful play. I believe the maximum edge that one can achieve right now, with 'standard play', no matter how precise, is probably not much more than 60%, perhaps in the 60% to 70% range, theoretically. We need to develop new approaches to tbj play, new skill factors, and boost that max edge up to maybe 150%? I think it can be done.
    Then we will have a more beatable game, and see raked tournaments as a viable option.

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