Everything You Need to Know to Win Your First Blackjack Tournament

Blackjack Dealer Dealing At His Table

Many casino gamblers adore blackjack because it’s a beautiful mix of strategy, skill, and chance. These appeal to different gamblers on various levels.

Newbie gamblers appreciate the easy-to-learn gameplay and no-brainer approach to basic strategy; advantage gamblers crowd the blackjack tables to count cards and profit from the game. The remainder of us lay somewhere in the middle between fun and money.

Unless you’re counting cards, you’ll lose playing blackjack eventually. However, I’ve walked out of the casino a winner from blackjack more than any other casino game.

However, the world of blackjack tournaments provides an excellent avenue for blackjack players. Instead of facing off against the constant house edge, you’re competing against other players.

That turns blackjack into a skill-based game like poker. Any time you can avoid the casinos’ edge, you’re automatically doing better.

Here’s everything you need to know to win your first blackjack tournament. With the best strategy, you may be able to squeak a profit from these events.

Setting Your Bankroll for Buy-Ins

One of the immediate things you should do before tackling blackjack tournaments is to consider your bankroll. Playing tournaments is different from table play because your financial consideration has been met once you’ve bought into the event.

Still, depending on what level your standard bet is at, you could be spending more than you anticipate. For example, a $10 flat bet with a basic strategy may only expect to lose $10 per hour.

Yet, your buy-in for a poker tournament could climb to well above this number. The format of the match and your strategy will determine how far the investment takes you.

It would be best to begin looking at your bankroll when considering buy-ins. Otherwise, you’re in danger of going bankrupt.

Be mindful of how far your buy-ins are taking you before blindly diving headfirst into blackjack tournaments. You should never stake more than five percent of your cash to play a single event.

Consider Your Return on Investment

When looking at a blackjack tournament, I consider the prize pool and the entry fee. Most events will have a variable prize pool, which means the money will vary depending on participation.

These events are significant when the casinos are packed because the prizes can grow to meteoric heights. But the more money that’s there to be won, the more competition you’ll have to battle to come out ahead.

For example, if a tournament awards $38 of every $40 entry fee to the prize pool and 100 players register, there’s $3800 in prize money. Sometimes the casinos will add additional funds to the collection to encourage registration by adding value.

Multiple Blackjack Hands on a Table

Occasionally, casinos will roll out huge events that offer a guaranteed prize. These events can provide a substantial motivator to play the event because the field could be small enough to present an immense value.

But you’re more likely to see better players in an event that has the casinos making a guarantee of $10,000 in prize money. Players new to blackjack tournaments should weigh the pros and cons before making any financial commitments.

When an event is too far out of your fiscal range, it’s better to wait for a better opportunity. I recommend starting small and seeing where the tournament life takes you.

Pay Close Attention to the Rules

The standard format for a blackjack tournament will be similar to a typical live dealer casino blackjack table. Players compete against the dealer to win hands. Yet, the difference is that players compete head to head to finish the event with the highest chip total.

It would be best to account for the type of event ahead of time. Some tournaments are elimination-style tournaments where the goal is to be the last player standing. That requires patience and a more subtle approach to your bets.

Other tournaments are purely about having the most chips at the end of the event. Here it serves players to be more aggressive and pad their banks early and often.

Pay close attention and try to play events that cater to your strengths. Many tournaments will pay the top 20%, but skilled players may look for events that pay fewer spots. That will increase the money won by splitting the same cash to fewer competitors.

Playing and Winning Your First Elimination Tournament

Elimination tournaments are one of the most exciting blackjack formats you will find. These events have players whittled from the starting field rapidly.

A standard format for an elimination tournament could be the top two players from each table moving on after a predetermined number of hands. That narrows the field into smaller and smaller sizes until a winner is crowned.

You’ll also discover that many tournaments allow players to buy back in multiple times before a cut-off. This re-buy can give players a second chance, but it doubles their stake.

Closeup of Blackjack Table

I’m not a fan of using the re-buys as a crutch because it will ultimately begin eating away at any profits.

Your sole focus is having the most chips near each elimination point. Accordingly, you should coordinate a strategy that considers your chip count and bet size.

When you’re ahead, it frees you up to bet smaller. Yet, when you’re behind, it may be necessary to press. There are instances where the standard logic may be to do the opposite, but you’ll navigate those issues as they come.

Leaderboard Style Tournaments Offer a Unique Experience

Players don’t have to worry about elimination in leaderboard-style tournaments. As long as you’ve got chips to place a wager, you’re still alive.

These tournaments force you to battle the competition and the dealer and the clock. Players need to be aggressive to win leaderboard tournaments, but playing too aggressively can lead to a bust.

You’ll have a predetermined number of hands that the field plays to determine a winner. So, keeping an eye on the players around you will provide an indication of where you sit.

Checking the leaderboard at regular intervals is your best way to stay on top of the standings. That will also indicate whether you should be letting it all hang out or tapping the breaks.

Sit and Go Tournaments Are Your 24/7 Thrill Ride

Online gamblers will love the excitement of sit-and-go tournaments. These impromptu events usually have fewer than ten players and begin as soon as the table fills.

Once the action is underway, it’s a race to the finish. One of the most significant benefits of sit-and-go tournaments is that you can see precisely what the other competitors are doing for the entire event.

Live Dealer Blackjack Game

Unfortunately, online blackjack eliminates players’ ability to count cards. So, you should have your basic strategy card handy.

Free Rolls Can Be Opportunities to Expand Profits

Whenever possible, you should take advantage of free rolls. Many free roll events will merely reward entry to a paid event for the winner, but that’s still an incredible benefit.

Taking advantage of every free roll available will help you gain the experience necessary to become a winner. The only real downside of free rolls is that the field size is much larger than your average event because the entry fee is waived.

Use the free rolls to get your feet wet as a rookie, then continue playing free rolls to extend your bankroll as a more veteran player.

Land-Based and Online Blackjack Tournaments Create Different Environments

Your tournament life will look different depending on where you live or how often you frequent land-based casinos.

Many blackjack tournaments at small local casinos are more promotional in nature. The casino will send invites to known blackjack players to get them back into the casino.

Blackjack Hand With Casino Chips on Top

Your invitation is often the only entry fee required, and the casino will add cash to get players to show up. That means you’ll have fewer tournament opportunities in areas that don’t boast massive casinos.

Fortunately, there are online options that have tournaments on a more regular basis. You can find more significant events every week, and the sit-and-go events are rolling around the clock.

You’ll notice a different environment playing each type of event, but the betting strategies to get you in the lead are closely related.

Mix Your Strategy Up

You must attack the tournament with a strategy in mind. It would be best to be locked in with a basic strategy and ready to make decisions in a flash.

Another vital aspect of blackjack tournament play is fading the rest of your table. Many players will also be using a basic strategy that evens the edge.

To stand apart from the competition, bet differently. When the table is playing soft, bet aggressively to grab a lead. If the table is betting hard and fast, take a backseat approach and let the players fall back.

Our Final Thoughts on Blackjack Tournaments

Blackjack is a must-play game for many casino gamblers. Why not take a leap into the world of blackjack tournaments and see where things go?

Armed with everything you need to know to win your first blackjack tournament won’t guarantee immediate success. But it puts you miles ahead of much of your competition.