The World Series of Blackjack

world series logoThe World Series of Blackjack (WSOB) has seen four seasons to date. It is a multi-leveled tournament that attracts some of the world’s finest blackjack players to compete for a grand prize. Each round of the tournament was edited down into a single one-hour block of footage to be aired on The Game Show Network (also known as GSN).

The first season of the WSOB was hosted by Matt Vasgersian and Max Rubin. The duo was well known in blackjack circles for their contributions to card counting, and they were the perfect candidates for hosting this series. In the third season, John Fugelsang and Ben Mezrich were brought in as the new hosts, but the action continued as usual.

How It Was Played

Each season started with twenty-five to forty different blackjack players. Some of them were professional gamblers while others had won satellite tournaments to earn their place at the tables. From the starting lineup, some players were eliminated each episode.

Each round lasted for twenty-five hands, and whoever had the short stack at the end of the round was eliminated. Players would start with $100,000 and the limits were $1,000/$50,000. Players were always allowed to split and double down, and the shoe contained a total of six decks.

Within the shoe, there were two knockout cards to add to the excitement. Whenever a knockout card was drawn, a player would be eliminated. For the knockout first card, if there were no more than four players remaining at the table, then nobody was eliminated. For the second card, if there were no more than three players at a table, then they were  also protected from elimination.

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The Champions

At the end of the first season, the last man standing was Mike Aponte. That is the same Mike Aponte who played a key roll in the MIT Blackjack Team and appeared on the Ultimate Blackjack Tour. For winning, he was awarded the grand prize of $100,000.

Season two of the World Series of Blackjack was won by the world-renowned blackjack champion, Ken Einiger. His prize was $250,000. Einiger had also seen success as a player on The Ultimate Blackjack Tour as well as in the live casino environment. As the second consistent blackjack winner, he helped remind the public that blackjack can be a game of skill.

Season three saw a changing of the guard. Not only were there new hosts (John Fugelsang and Ben Mezrich) on the program, but neither of the previous winners even made it to the final table. The champion of season three was Jeff Bernstein, who won a total of $500,000.

The fourth and final season, again, saw an unlikely winner. Alice Walker was a new face to the show, but was an accomplished poker player. Earlier, Alice had won $500,000 in the three-card poker challenge (also on GSN). Coming back to sweep the blackjack tour landed Walker another half of a million dollars. Marlin Horseman, a relatively unknown blackjack player, finished close behind in second place.

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