Blackjack’s back!

Sep 4, 2006 4:51 AM

The countdown is on. In just over three weeks, the gaming world will be introduced to a high-adrenaline, juiced up version of blackjack, the world’s most popular casino game.

The Ultimate Blackjack Tour (UBT), which debuts nationwide on CBS on Saturday, September 16, will present a brand new, fast-paced "Elimination BlackjackT" competition in which you’ll see your favorite professional card players — such as Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke and Johnny Chan — sweating it out for 30 nail-biting hands that include three forced eliminations and "secret bets."

Also, for the first time ever, the dealer’s hole card is revealed to the TV audience.

"Some of the sharpest minds in the professional gaming community came together to make blackjack exciting for TV," said UBT founder, expert gambler and 1994 WSOP Main Event winner Russ Hamilton. "The poker pros and blackjack

players who have played Elimination BlackjackT all agree that we have something very big on our hands, and now that our multi-million dollar, worldwide tour is in place, UBT is gearing up to be the next big craze in gaming."

The traditional format of blackjack tournaments encourages conservative play — the goal is to keep from busting out. Participants play 25 to 30 hands and the player with most chips at the end walks away the winner.

UBT’s brand of high-stakes blackjack incorporates three forced eliminations every eight hands, which generates aggressive play right out of the gate.

In addition, to appeal to master bluffers, the creators have added a secret bet component, which entitles each player one opportunity to outsmart the competition by concealing his/her bet. Double downs and insurance against a dealer’s showing ace also allow for creative play as contestants try to out-wit each other, survive the elimination rounds, and take home hundreds of thousands of dollars.

"This is a card player’s game," said 1996 WSOP bracelet-winner and cash game guru Freddy Deeb, who participated in season one action. "It’s a great game if you like the strategies you see in poker. Here you can bluff your bet, but you still have to make your hand. It’s totally new."

Ultimate Blackjack Tour’s high-intensity approach to blackjack has captured the interest of pro poker and blackjack players alike. Team UBT, 14 of the most dangerous professional card players on the planet who have come together in support of Elimination BlackjackT, includes poker greats Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke, Johnny Chan, Phil Laak, Jennifer Tilly, Freddy Deeb, Robert Williamson III, Antonio Esfandiari, David "Devilfish" Ulliott, Monica Reeves, Layne Flack, as well as World Blackjack Champion Kenny Einiger and blackjack stars "Hollywood" Dave Stann and Anthony Curtis.

"I’m a poker player, but this is a game I intend to make my own," said Robert Williamson III, 2002 WSOP Pot-Limit Omaha champ and 2004 and 2005 second place finisher. "For a blackjack game to excite the top poker players in the world, it has to be pretty special."

The 10-episode first season of Ultimate Blackjack Tour features every member of Team UBT in exhilarating action against the dealer, and one another.

The season also includes two special episodes: The Ladies of Blackjack, which showcases top female gamblers the likes of Annie Duke, Jennifer Tilly, Monica Reeves and Erica Schoenburg, and The Legends of Blackjack, which puts blackjack whizzes Stanford Wong, Anthony Curtis, Kenny Einiger and others in exciting, head-to-head competition.

Through its web site, www.playUBT.com, the Ultimate Blackjack Tour will hold free online tournaments in which winners will earn seats to the UBT season two final tables to be televised on CBS in 2007. The site will also provide Elimination BlackjackT playing tips and in-depth analysis of the televised events.

In conjunction with the televised tournament and online action, UBT’s worldwide tour kicks off on September 23 at the Radisson Resort and Casino in Aruba and then on to St. Kitts at the Royal Beach Casino on October 28.

Other locations will include Las Vegas, California, Atlantic City, Reno, and Paris, France. Information on tour schedule and how to enter can be found on the UBT web site.