Sam Vaughn - Blackjack Player Profile
Many professional gamblers would say that Sam Vaughn is one of the best blackjack players in the world. His early history begins in Phoenix, Arizona while working at the US Postal Service. It was during this time that Vaughn got the bug for gambling and would drive his van up to Las Vegas to visit some of the casinos. In fact, he went to Vegas so frequently that his 1982 Ford gained 300,000 miles on it over a period of 17 years.
Before Sam got into blackjack, he was actually a very interested in craps, which is another great game with some of the best odds in the casino. This was his game to play in the 1980s and he enjoyed playing in tournaments. Unfortunately in 1989, casinos in Vegas ended the tournaments and Sam had to look for another game. After talking with some friends, he decided to try out tournament blackjack that same year. The Four Queens casino is where he entered the tournament and he walked out with $50,000! Not bad for a first-time tournament blackjack player.
Sam Vaughn was quite popular during his trips to Vegas. Typically, he would stop at Laughlin, Nevada with his van and live down by the river temporarily to sleep over night or park up in the mountains to get away from the heat. The friendly local people even offered their showers and even a room for the night. Once in awhile, he would bring a few friends with him.
Sam Vaughn makes a million dollars playing blackjack
After seeing how much opportunity was in the game, he decided to retire out of the US Postal Service after 25 years in 1992. Later in 1995, he moved out to Las Vegas to become a full time professional gambler and perfect his skills. Since his first tournament, he has participated in over 100 blackjack tournaments. In 2000, he won $1.25 million dollars total in all his years of playing, which is not bad for 11 years
After the year 2000, he went on a dry streak that lasted 3 and a half years where he won nothing. It wasn't until July of 2004 when he came back and started winning some serious cash in the big leagues again. This was around the same time he entered the Reno-Atlantis tournament called "Winner Take All" where he won $45,000. Only a single week later, he won an additional $20,000 at the Hilton Million Dollar III blackjack tournament in Las Vegas during the monthly qualifier round.
Hilton million dollar blackjack tournament story
The Hilton MDBJ tournament is actually a big deal because the winner actually gets to win a million dollars. It turns out that Sam Vaughn was participating in the tournament the year before and advanced to the final table but missed out on the prize during the Hilton MDBJ II series. In the MDBG III series, everyone got a starting bankroll of $5,000 where they could make minimum bets of $100 and a maximum of $2,500.
After Sam Vaughn advanced through the qualifier round and won the $20,000, he moved on to the big round. He played the game well and was doing fine with chip count by the 28th hand of the final round. During this hand, the tournament was nearly over. The card were dealt and Sam had an 18. Another player doubled down but ended up with a stiff hand while an additional opponent doubled down and ended up with 17. The dealer then played and ended up with a 17. Vaughn ended up winning a huge hand with $18,250. There was only 5 more hands that took place where Sam lost the next, pushed in the second and won the last three hands. He ended up winning the entire tournament with a million dollars and all of it's glory.
He claims that the Hilton was going to offer him a rack of 1 thousand $1,000 chips, but he took the check instead. Also, he tipped the dealer but also didn't want to break up the winnings just yet because he wanted to see $1,000,000 written on a check. So he had $1,000 and his friend had $5,000 and they gave that to the dealer and Sam was able to walk out with a clean 1 million dollar check.
That's an additional million dollars to his profile. It turns out that he has played 18 rounds of the Hilton blackjack tournaments and advanced in 16 rounds of those rounds. In fact, he is the only person to have ever made it to the final table of the Hilton million dollar tournament twice in a row, which is an amazing record.
Later history and blackjack career
Sam Vaughn is still at it with blackjack tournaments and he enjoys the games. He recommends others to play in tournaments and build upon their skills and experience with the game. He gives credit to his good skills from learning how to manage a bankroll from when he was playing craps long ago as well as discussions and debates with other great players. In fact, he has said that many of the pros enjoy talking about their strategies with other serious players and he learned from this. A few friends of his, including John Ressman, were considered experts at tournament blackjack before Stanford Wong came out with his tournament strategy book and helped answer any questions he had.
He did some remarkable things with his million dollar check. In fact, he gave much of the winnings away to his friends. In fact, Sam gave $10,000 to a friend from the year before and $10,000 to another friend as a split. He also gave out a $20,000 split with another person from the semi-finals and finally $500,000 to a good friend of his, Fred Heilman. He then went on vacation to Australia, Fiji and New Zealand. The story behind giving Fred $500,000 is interesting. During the first year of playing at the Hilton, there were 4 people who chipped in together. They didn't have a large bankroll so each person took turns playing during a month. In the second year, there was only 3 people involved. In the third year, two of the original people wanted to play every month, so it was just Sam and Fred who chipped in, meaning whoever won would split the money.
Nowadays, Sam is still with his van and spends time in the small town outside of Vegas where he used to go all the time. He advises all the new players to get involved as many tournaments as they can whether they are small or big. He also strongly recommends that even if you get beaten or lose a tournament to stick around and continue to watch. Also chat with other players and ask questions about things you do not understand about the game. Then you will become great like him.