Sam Vaughn exemplifies the Vegas dream; He worked for the United States Postal Service for 25 years, during which period Vaughn would travel to Vegas where he would spend a large chunk of his weekends playing in craps tournaments. For Sam Vaughn a significant amount of the 80s was spend in his car making the trip from his home in Phoenix, Arizona to Vegas - For 17 years, he made the trip, and it certainly paid off.
To begin with Craps was Sam’s game, with particular interest in the tournaments. Sam played in virtually every tournament going. Slowly however the casinos began to faze out craps tournaments until by the end of the 80’s they were virtually impossible to find. In response to this shift, Sam was encouraged by friends to try to play blackjack; relatively uncharted land for Sam. It was during this period at the end of the 80’ that Vaughn first tried his luck at blackjack and he made his debut at The Four Queens blackjack tournament. He came away from this tournament with a whopping $50,000. Although he didn’t do it immediately, this win marked the end of his postal service era and provided enough incentive for him to quit his postal service job in 1992 and concentrate full time on what had been up to now just a hobby. The final step from Phoenix Postal Worker to Vegas Professional Gambler occurred in 1995 when he took the full plunge and finally moved to Vegas.
It seems that the end of craps tournament was a lucky turn for Sam Vaughn who has to date taken part in more than 100 blackjack tournaments with winnings amounting to over 2.75 million dollars. Some of his most famous wins include his 2004 winning of the Reno-Atlantis ‘Winner-Take-All’ tournament with a prize of $45,000, and most impressively his Las Vegas Hilton Million Dollar III Blackjack Tournament win. The Hilton MDBJ III Tournament is one of the most exclusive and highest potted tournament in the blackjack world. It has a starting bankroll of $5,000 and minimum/maximum bets of $100/$2,500. Sam won in this competition $18,250 on his 28th hand beating the dealer 18 to 17; he went on to win the full one million dollar prize. His Hilton MDBJ III Tournament appearance also set a record – Sam Vaughn was the only player to reach the final table in both the Hilton MDBJ II and III tournaments!
Following his win at the Hilton MDBJ III tournament, Sam Vaughn tells how the casino wanted to pay him in chips – a rack of one thousand $1000 dollar chips; he opted for a check instead.
Sam claims that his success in blackjack is tied to the money management experience he was able to gain from his ample craps tournaments; he says that when he came to blackjack there was little awareness of money management and the betting strategies that go with it. He also advices budding blackjack players to compete in as many tournaments as possible, no matter what the prize is, and if you are knocked out, don’t give up; hang around watch the table, study the players – It’s the best road to success.
Sam Marshall - Editorial Staff