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World's First Internet Blackjack Tournament Ends In `Sudden Death Day'


Technology made the world's first free tournament blackjack game on the Internet possible, but players gave it the old-fashioned drama of a high-stakes Las Vegas casino tournament.

Hundreds of players were attracted to the Blackjack Time Beta test site on the World Wide Web at Marathon Entertainment, Inc., of Las Vegas, presenter of the game, culminated the test with a 10-day Internet tournament. Although the tournament was among individuals from all parts of the country, the winner was local Las Vegas resident Lanny Bender. Other finalists were from California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois and Massachusetts. Maxim's casino of Las Vegas awarded Bender with entry into their Triple Header casino tournament Aug. 23-25.

To participate in the Blackjack Time tournament, players were required to log onto the site between Aug. 10-19. The top half of these players advanced to the "sudden death day" round on Aug. 20, ending promptly at midnight Mountain Time. Players checked each other out in the standings, which were posted every 15 minutes.

According to Dan Reifsnyder, programmer and designer of Blackjack Time at TESSER Internet Solutions of Boulder, Colo., the drama kicked in at 12:01 a.m. Aug. 20 when he moved the top half of the players to the second round. "By 12:05 a.m., a player jumped on the game and got 10,000 credits in the first hour," Reifsnyder said. "But during the day when he saw someone passed him, he started playing desperately, because he ended up with only 400 credits. The top five players averaged about 4,000 credits each."

The opinions of the tournament participants are helping finish the design of this interactive entertainment, which will be available to the public on the Internet. The blackjack game's advanced technology provides animation and therefore requires Netscape Navigator 2+. Because of the international nature of the Internet and the popularity of blackjack, anyone in the world can play.

The final program will feature a "comp with every click." When a player clicks onto an advertiser's logo icon which appears next to the game cards, he is linked to the advertiser's web page. There he receives a "comp," a free sample. In addition, Blackjack Time will feature continuous tournaments sponsored by casinos, who will award trips to winners.


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