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Pro gambler donates winnings to charity.

Byline: The Register-Guard

Professional blackjack player Kevin Blackwood of Eugene has donated his winnings from a recent tournament to World Vision, the international Christian relief organization.

Blackwood won $12,500 in the World Series of Blackjack, taped in November at the Golden Nugget Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The tournament is televised as a series on GSN, formerly the Gameshow Network. Blackwood's last appearance, in the semifinals, aired this weekend.

He said he thought he had a good shot at making the final table, where players vied for a $250,000 first-place prize. The top two players from each semifinal round advance, and he placed third.

In tournament blackjack, players still try to beat the dealer but compete against one another in attempting to win the biggest stack of chips in a fixed number of hands.

In his semifinal round, Blackwood bet $25,000 on one hand and $50,000 on the next - his two biggest bets of the entire tournament. And he received the worst two hands he could have been dealt: both were 16 against the dealer's 10.

"That was frustrating, especially when it happened twice within minutes and I had already busted out on the first one and it looked like I was facing the abyss the second time around," he said.

Blackwood has mastered the skill of counting cards, giving him a winning advantage in blackjack. He said he has been tossed out of casinos more than 200 times.

Now he's trying to parlay his expertise into celebrity tournament play and has vowed to donate all such winnings to charity.

He intends to play in a tournament in June at the Horizon Resort and Casino in Lake Tahoe, Nev.

Blackwood's new book, "Play Blackjack Like the Pros" (HarperCollins, $27.95), is now in book stores. More information can be found at www.kevinblackwood.com.
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Title Annotation:Gambling
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 17, 2005
Words:309
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