Mr. Rick Fortin started indulging in the game of blackjack about 3 decades ago and began competing in blackjack tournaments about 8 years ago.
Last January, he won 1 of the seats for the 4th yearly World Series of Blackjack, which will be shown this coming August on GSN and channel 342 on Cox Cable. Fortin began his blackjack career while still working as the chief engineer for the U2 spy plane located at Robins Air Force Base, participating in 6 to 8 blackjack tournaments before retiring from his job in 2002 after working for 36 years.
He is now participating in 10-14 blackjack tournaments annually. Fortin said he tries to participate in 2 to 3 tournaments in a single trip. He has already played in approximately 70 to 80 tournaments and made the final table 12 times.
Fortin claims that you will not be able to take home money unless you make the final table of the tournament. He further stated that 2005 was his best year in the circuit, placing in 1st, 2nd and 4th place. He generally averages 2 finals annually over the last 3 years. Fortin tried to get into the GSN blackjack tournament but was unable to do so until this year.
He submitted an application for the third time and was asked for a video audition but he did not pass the final 40 on the day that the applications for the tournament were announced, January 9, 2007. Fortin was then entered in 1 of the 4 satellite tournaments to earn a spot.
Fortin was able to win his table, which included 3 blackjack players who were included in the tournament last year. The next step was the taping that began on January 27, 2007.
Players in the show had to be there 2 to 3 hours before the taping. The blackjack tournament was filmed at the Las Vegas Hilton. The tournament round takes 30 to 45 minutes for the 24 card hands, according to Fortin.
He added that it took about two and half to three hours to tape the whole episode. There are about 40 individuals on stage at a given time. For the 1st round of the tournament, there are about 5 players at each table and the winner of each table qualifies for the semi-finals.
There is also a wildcard round where the 2nd place blackjack players fill the 5th spot at the wildcard table. The winner will qualify for the semi-finals. The winner and runner-up in the semi-finals will qualify for the remaining seat at the finals.
The participants in the tournament included other blackjack players and casino high rollers, as well as sports and Hollywood celebrities, like baseball pitcher Oral Hershieser, Penn Gillette of Penn and Teller, comedienne Carline Rhea and Shannon Elizabeth.
The World Series of Blackjack will be shown every Monday at 11:00 p.m. on the Game Show Network (GSN) through August 27, 2007. Every player makes 2 out of the possible 4 appearances. Rick Fortin's 1st appearance on the show is on July 16, 2007.
Fortin could not reveal how far he progressed in the tournament due to the contract stating that they must not reveal what happened until it is shown on television. He also said that GSN, Las Vegas Hilton and all the people involved in the production treated them well. Fortin said that he would love to repeat the experience all over again.
Monday, July 23 , 2007