Experimental Blackjack Underway

Over in one of the smaller conference rooms, the €225 + €25 Blackjack Championship has begun. I entered to find Franke delivering a pep talk to the eight runners registered so far.

"We have no idea what we're creating," he told them, "So we're trying to work out what we're doing, with you as the test, er, rabbits."

"So do you know what we're doing?" a player asked.

"No," said Franke decisively.

"Thank you for being rabbits," fellow organiser Mauritz Altikardes chimed in, "And also paying for it."

The players are now seated at two tables, many of them resplendent in their The Festival baseball caps, and they all seem to be having a lot of fun - even the one player who confessed to me she'd never played blackjack before and had no idea what the rules are. The main difference between this tournament and regular casino blackjack seems to be the introduction of a dealer button, to eradicate the advantage a player seated in the last dealing position would otherwise enjoy when playing against other players rather than just the dealer. There have also been a couple of tweaks to the published rules - most notably they've binned the three additional hands that were supposed to be played after each three rounds, and the top two players from each table (or 50%, with a maximum of two) will go through to the next round rather than just the top player from each table.

You can see the rules here.