Eyes on the prize? If you’re planning to join a blackjack tournament, you need to do some serious prep work to win. A blackjack tournament strategy is a must if you want to bag that lavish cash coveted by many gamblers. Thinking about winning can be tough, but if you dissect the essentials of a tournament, it shouldn’t be as taxing as what you think it is.
Blackjack tournaments are usually offered by casino during off-season months, especially during winter. To keep their houses packed, they would entice pro gamblers to show their prowess in the card game. And as far as I know, card counting could be acceptable here.
All the players will be assigned a table where they’re going to play a specific number of hands or hours. At the end of the timeframe, the one who has the most chips wins. This is usually done in multiple rounds until there’s only one man standing to redeem the bucks.
But how are you going to prepare for this big day? Here’s our short guide:
How a blackjack tournament works
When it comes to blackjack tournaments, you’re going to compete against the dealer and the other players indirectly. The goal here is to grow your pre-set bankroll and have the most money at the end of the day.
Take note that most tournaments will have entry fees. Remember, these are usually organized by casinos. Therefore, they will get as much money as they can to fund the winnings.
Usually, blackjack tournaments will have a maximum of three rounds where winners advance to the next round until a winner emerges. But before you flaunt your skills on the table, it’s imperative to know the rules first. Don’t be that annoying Mr. or Ms. Know-it-all.
Make sure to inquire about the following:
♣️Type of blackjack to be played
♣️The payouts of the winning hands
♣️Number of players allowed on each table
♣️Maximum hands per round or player
♣️Rules of play
♣️Side bets including insurance
♣️Minimum and maximum betting amount
Here’s a quick background about blackjack tournaments:
If the casino implements their usual rules, then you’re good to go. Still, some would pay 2:1 or 6:5 for blackjack depending on how difficult they want the game to be. Ask for the aforementioned points so you won’t trip and lose a large amount of wager along the way.
Most importantly, ask ahead about the blackjack variant that will be played. As you know, there are many variations and each of the types has unique rules.
Practice, practice, practice
Does the dealer stand at Soft 17? Is doubling after splitting allowed? As you see, these little variations on the rules will impact the implementation of your blackjack tournament strategy. Before you even hit the table, practice at home or sharpen your skills by playing in regular tables.
If you’re a card counter, take time to practice your method. Do the drill for a different number of decks and methods of play.
Most of all, master a basic blackjack strategy by heart. Remember that most of the players in a tournament would be experienced and seasoned gamblers. Going in one without the prep work would make you a sitting duck ready to lose a fortune in a few hours.
The difference of regular blackjack vs. tournament blackjack
Mainly, you compete against the dealer during a regular blackjack game. But if you’re joining a tournament, you’ll be fending off against the dealer and the other players. Your goal isn’t always to win lots of money but to end up with more chips than the other players.
Remember, all of the players in the tournament will start with the same bankroll. Usually, your losses will be limited to the entry fee you paid, say $200 or up to $1,500 depending on the casino’s discretion. It doesn’t matter if you end up with chips lower than what you started with. If it’s the highest amount at the end of the game as compared to other players, you win.
Still confused? Here are more differences between the two:
Types of blackjack tournaments
Slow your roll, my friend. Blackjack tournaments aren’t made equal. There are short-term and long-term ones, each bearing different entry fee rates. Make sure that you know the format first before competing. Here are the usual formats of tournaments in casinos:
As its name suggests, this type of tournament is usually held in a shorter period and with a lower entry fee. Brick-and-mortar casinos usually host this type of tournament once a week while online platforms can have it daily.
Starting at $25, you can already join one and win a top prize of around $2,000 or less depending on the number of participants. Those who don’t want to commit in long-term and high-risk formats usually start with mini tournaments first.
This type of tournament usually stretches for a whole weekend or a couple of days. Since it runs longer than other types, major tournaments have higher entry fees and prize pool. Usually, the pot for this tournament can be as lavish as six digits.
Contestants who wish to join this will play inside paid or discounted rooms together with additional gifts or freebies. There’s also a banquet so it will technically have a pricier fee.
This type of tournament is a continuously running competition where the match starts once a specific number of players have been met. Usually, this is done online casinos as players usually come and go faster than in actual houses.
Depending on the rules of the game, the entry fee would vary for this type. Prizes will also depend on what the online casino sets.
🎰Traditional elimination tournament
This is the most common mode of blackjack tournaments where you compete with the players on your table. The winners will advance to another level. If you lose, you have the chance to ‘re-buy’ so you can still continue with the match.
Ask the casino if they allow such re-buying. If not, you’ll be automatically eliminated from the tournament.
What are televised and professional blackjack tournaments?
These things usually happen in Las Vegas and Atlantic City where the crème de la crème of the blackjack community gather to compete with each other. This is like the All-Star Championship of all pro blackjack players from different gambling capitals. It’s a showdown and a spectacle of strategies and ineffable risk.
One of the most celebrated televised blackjack tournaments was the Ultimate Blackjack Tour.It debuted in CBS back in 2006 which covered the 10-week tournament. The fun fact about this is that the UBT was held off Las Vegas because some of the competitors were banned to set foot in the Sin City.
UBT was a progressive tournament as it also acknowledged online gamblers’ qualifications for the tourney.
Although you’re not bound to lose a large amount of bankroll, risk management is the key if you want to win the prize. Risk management basically refers to the size of your betting units. Managing this is crucial so you can make your fixed bankroll last so you can play more hands and possibly win the table.
It’s easy to think that risk management is about placing minimal bets to prevent running out of chips.However, if you do this, you may not have enough chips to win, not to mention advancing to the next playing round.With this, risk management is about placing cautious bets and knowing when to employ betting deviations to win more.
Risking a large chunk of your bankroll right off the bat isn’t advisable. However, sticking to a minimum bet isn’t rewarding either. You need to have a specific strategy that will maximize your bankroll up to its full potential.
It’s pays to hold back your chips on the first few hands. Study how the other players behave and adjust your bets from there. In case all the players seem to be doing the same, add more chips to initiate a higher risk. Since you’re betting larger, you’re sending an indirect message of alarm. Still, don’t do this for show or else, you’ll lose big time.
Considerations before joining a tourney
Aside from checking the rules and knowing the format of the tournament you’re joining, there are more considerations you should know about. So if you’re thinking of joining one in the future, always consider the following points:
It doesn’t hurt to try and see for yourself how tournaments work. But if you’re joining one, you might as well prepare for the battle. You don’t want to be known as the sucker player, right? Also, base your tourney preference on your skill level. As a beginner, the Sit-‘n-go type would suit you as well as mini tournaments held in actual casinos.
The prize of the winning player should be reasonable enough to give 100% of the players’ fees. Although some casinos don’t guarantee players to break even, you should have a good playing strategy to at least give your money a fighting chance.
🎰Amount of time
Not all players can commit to long tournaments, thus losing the chance of bagging the prize or winning their money back. If you’re joining a tournament, make sure that you can squeeze it in on your schedule. Calculate the time needed for you to qualify in the succeeding rounds.
Also, factor in the time you’ll spend preparing and practicing your strategies. This way, you can relax and have enough leeway to focus on your play.
Remember, you’re joining a tourney and not a regular blackjack game where you can quit and run with the money anytime you wish so. You have to know the rules of the tourney so you won’t lose and stymie other players’ game.
Since you’ll be paying a certain fee, it makes sense to study the rules by heart and build your strategies around it.
🎰Master the basics
As much as you need to prepare, you don’t always have to be an all-star player to win in a tournament. Start by mastering the basic blackjack tournament strategy and go from there. Usually, this would be enough to advance you to another round or possibly win in a mini tournament.
If you’re planning to join a bigger tourney, I suggest that you sharpen your card counting skills. By knowing when the shoe is rich, you can employ deviations to win more.
🎰Watch other players
Instead of just focusing on your own hands, a tourney will require you to keep an eye on other players’ chips and playing behavior. This way, you’ll know how much you should bet for a winning hand or the possibility of losing but still having the upper hand.
Knowing when to correlate your betting is a necessary skill so you can minimize the losses and still have the highest chip count on the table.
Even if you can’t grab the lion’s share of winnings, joining a blackjack tournament is worth the try. Here, you’ll have the first-hand experience of how big leagues compete with each other.
But before you aspire to sit on the same table like the pros, take your time to practice and polish your gambling skills. This way, you’ll have better chances of winning.
Most of all, don’t forget to go back to the basic blackjack tournament strategy. Build your techniques from there until you can easily play without the need for a cheat card.
Be it online or in actual casinos, tournaments offer a different level of challenge to spice things up.