a brilliant concept. Who designed it?
A. I did.
Q. How long did it take to develop the format?
A. Half a day.
Q. Half a day! That's hard to believe. This obviously wasn't your
first foray into the tourney world.
A. I'll give you a little history. I started doing tournaments at
Bally's in the mid-nineties and I developed this wild-card format. It
designed very effectively to keep everybody in the tournament even after
they'd been eliminated, so they had a chance to get to final round.
wanted to do something big like this at Bally's, but in '98 and '99
so involved with the opening of Paris that it got put on the back burner.
Then I went to the Hilton in January 2000. They already had tournaments
there, but they weren't very successful.
Q. A lot of tournaments aren't. Go on.
A. Someone from outside the industry approached me with an idea
about a mega-blackjack tournament, but the format was all wrong and
conceptually it wasn't feasible. At that point I started thinking again
about a million-dollar tournament. With our marketing department we
presented the idea to the executive committee and they went for it
Q. That's somewhat surprising, knowing how famous the old Park
Place was for being risk-averse and squeezing pennies.
A. I was actually very pleased with the support that I received
from senior management, from the hotel president to the corporate office.
Q. Were you a little scared when it first kicked off?
A. Yes, I was. We had less participation that we'd hoped for, and,
coupled with several individuals' attempts to sabotage the tournament,
didn't know what was going to happen. But we were firmly committed to
ahead. At that point, the biggest question was how much were we going
lose on this.
Q. So it was shaky to start and you wound up being a hero...
A. (Laughs) I wound up not being a goat. It did receive a lot of
support from Connie and Eddie Olson at Blackjack Confidential, Anthony
Curtis at the Las Vegas Advisor, and Henry Tamburin, who wrote several
complimentary articles in trade publications and that really helped.