Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What to Expect: AJs Blackjack Tournament

This past cruise was the first year that AJ hosted a blackjack tournament and I went into that event totally lost and unsure on what to expect. So I wanted to let you know how it works as best I can in case he decides to do this event again. Keep in mind I am not a blackjack expert in any way shape or form.

Overview from Rose Tours
Ever dream of playing blackjack on the High Seas? Ever dream of playing blackjack on the high seas with one Mr. AJ McLean?

Well, here is your chance.

On Sunday, Oct. 27th, AJ is hosting his first ever Backstreet Boys Cruise - Blackjack Tournament.

For just $25 dollars (payable to the casino host on-board), you can have a chance to play in the grand finale with AJ. The top six chip winners from the qualifying rounds (starting in the casino at 10am) will test their skills against AJ himself.

The three players with the most chips will win cash prizes. The player with the highest amount of chips will also win a very special BSB Cruise prize! 

Submit your name, email address and dining time below. We will randomly select among all entries. You will receive a schedule with your table time in advance.
Commemorative Poker Chip

Should You Play?
In my opinion there were fans of all different levels of playing experience. Some girls had never played blackjack before, but just wanted to chance to play with AJ. And others who clearly know their way around a blackjack table. But  just because you don't know how to play or don't think you're good enough, I still think you should try it if you'd like. Just don't let the fact that you're less experienced stop you, because I guarantee other fans are just as new to it as you are. Blackjack is pretty easy to learn and a quick youtube video can help teach you. I personally consider myself somewhere in the middle. Going into it, I knew the basics, but I needed a refresher on when to split, double down, etc. 

Signing Up
Once you decide if you want to play, you need to sign up to participate. They first announced the event in the itinerary, which was released about 2 weeks before the cruise. In that email, there was a link to sign up for the tournament. So if this is something you'd like to participate in, keep your eyes peeled for that email from Rose Tours and make sure to sign up.

I was notified via email from Michelle at Rose Tours about 4 days before the cruise. From what I can tell, I think everyone who entered got picked. Lets face it- its easy money for them so I don't know why they'd turn anyone down. In this email, there was a schedule on what time you would be playing and what table you'd be at. 198 girls were selected to play. They had games being played from 10am-1:55pm on the last day of the cruise.

Checking In
When its time for you to play, make your way to the casino. You'll need to visit the cashier in the casino to check-in and pay for the tournament, which will go on your sail and sign card. It costs $25 to participate. At that point find your assigned table and grab a seat!

Even the tables were BSB themed!

Tournament Rules
Everyone will play 7 hands of blackjack and everyone starts with $1500 in chips. You do not compete with just the girls at your table, you're competing with everyone- so all 198 people who signed up and theoretically might play. Granted at my table only 2 of the 7 people showed up. I think a lot of people last minute changed their mind or were preoccupied because the tournament overlapped with the meet & greet. But don't stress, the dealer will go over all of the tournament rules beforehand. I found our dealer very understanding and patient with less experienced players. With 7 hands and only 2 girls at my table- the whole game couldn't have lasted much more than 5-10 minutes.  

In order to win a spot to play with AJ later in the day, you need to have the most money in chips at the end of those 7 hands. There was a board up front near the cashier that kept track of the top players throughout the day. Just so you have a sense, here were the final scores from the 2013 cruise.

1. $14,000
2. $10,200
3. $8,400
4. $6,900
5. $6,600
6. $6,200
7. AJ :)

The top 6 contestants got to play with AJ in the finals. The first place prize was $500 and the second place prize won $250. Though I personally think playing blackjack with AJ would be a prize enough!

Commemorative Poker Chip

Unfortunately I don't have any insight on how the finals that were played with AJ went. That event overlapped with Kevin's cover story and unfortunately I couldn't be in 2 places at once. If any past cruisers have an additional info they'd like to share, please post below. I'm curious too :)

I am no blackjack expert, so I'm not going to even go down that path. But I will say that's its important to look at the winning amounts from last year. And definitely take a look at that board before you sit down. You need to know how aggressively to play. You only get 7 hands and $1500 in chips. If you only bet $100 a hand, you can do the math and quickly realize even if you got blackjack all 7 hands, there's no way you could compete. My personal MO was "go big or go home." But that's just me. Clearly it didn't pay off like I was hoping.

Good luck!

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