How to Play (and win!) Online Blackjack Tournaments
Ask anyone to name a casino game of choice and it’s a sure bet that it won’t be too long before blackjack comes up. The game is one of the most talked about at the casino, with many books written about the game over the years, indeed, some of them even making it to the big screen. When online casinos came along, blackjack moved across almost seamlessly, with casino sites sites offering a large selection of games, the vast majority of them being the classic head to head between the player and the dealer. However, a growing phenomenon are the blackjack tournaments, where instead of playing against the dealer, you are actually up against other players, competing to see who performs the best.
In this article I start by describing how a blackjack tournament works, detailing the format and structure of these events. Then I move onto to look at some of the strategy you could use to improve your chance of winning these tournaments. Finally, I look at the advantages of playing in blackjack tournaments.
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How Blackjack Tournaments Work
To gain entry to a tournament you’ll have to register and pay the entry fee. This entry fee will usually come in two parts, such as $5 + $0.50, where the $5 will go towards the prize fund, while the $0.50 will go to the house for hosting the tournament. Of course, you will find some free roll tournaments where no money changes hands at all.
The players in the tournament will usually be split across a number of tables, with the best performing players at each table progressing to the next round. All players at a table will start with exactly the same amount of chips and the aim is to have more chips than your fellow competitors at the end of the round. Each round will have some kind of time limit, whether that be a set number of minutes, or a set number of hands to be played in the round. The tournament will continue until there is just one table remaining, where you’ll usually find that all of the players are now ‘in the money’, although the biggest prizes are obviously reserved for the top performing players at this final table.
Blackjack Tournament Strategy
The first thing you have to realize when playing a blackjack tournament is that you are no longer playing against the house. It’s no good having more chips than you started with if every other player has a higher chip stack than you, so the most important piece of advice is to know exactly how many chips all of your competitors have.
Popular advice is to start out somewhat conservatively, ensuring you don’t bust out early and keeping an eye on your fellow competitors. For example, if playing a 50 hand tournament, you might want to take it easy for the first 30 hands and then evaluate exactly where you stand. If you’re lagging behind, then you can start to increase your bet size, or if you’re sitting pretty, you can carry on in the same vein. The last 3 or 4 hands will be majorly important as every player will now be scrambling for their tournament lives, a number of players betting all their stack – this is where it becomes especially important to know where you stand. There is nothing more disappointing than exiting a tournament simply because you got the bet size wrong on the final hand!
Much of your strategy will depend upon exactly how many players qualify – a tournament which sees only a small number of players proceed (maybe 1 from each table) would need a more aggressive strategy. The same could be said about the final table, where you’ll need to be more aggressive if you are aiming to grab that 1st place prize, or take it easier if you are happier to take home a solid middle position prize.
Advantages of Playing Blackjack Tournaments
Blackjack tournaments can give the game a whole new level of excitement. Blackjack is a card game with a high level of strategy anyway, but tournaments add another layer of strategy to the game and instead of beating just one player in the dealer, winning a tournament sees you triumph over a whole host of players.
Blackjack tournaments also offer the opportunity to play a great number of hands for a set fee, so you’ll know exactly how much the session will cost you before you start.
Another key advantage is that Blackjack is a relatively low odds casino game, most hands offering you even money. Playing in a tournament however, gives you the opportunity of making many times your starting stake, especially if you can go all the way and win the tournament.