Blackjack is, without a doubt, one of the most beloved casino games on the planet. Players around the globe flock to the tables because of its low house edge and opportunities to implement a strategy.
You’re probably pretty familiar with the standard casino blackjack game. Players sit around a table and compete against a dealer to come closer to 21.
Your fellow players are in the fight with you, and the casino is the common enemy. Blackjack tournaments flip the game on its head and have players competing for a prize pool.
Blackjack tournaments require players to buy in for a set fee. They then compete against the dealer to win hands and compete with each other to win the most chips. Blackjack tournaments combine tons of entertainment with a legit shot at profits. Still, you need to be intimately aware of the differences between tournaments and your average table play.
The basic principle of blackjack tournaments is relatively straightforward. Players pay an entry fee and are broken up into tables.
The contestants then play blackjack against the dealer as they usually would. The caveat is that you’re also competing against the other players to amass the most giant chip stack.
At a typical blackjack table, you may often find yourself rooting for the players around you to beat the dealer. After all, it’s all house money, and there’s plenty to go around.
You’ll need to examine factors before you buy in to determine whether the event is suitable for you.
Important areas to consider include, but are not limited to, the following:
- How much of your bankroll the entry ree eats up
- Distribution of the prizes (Top-heavy or spread out)
- How many contestants advance to the next round
- How long each round lasts
- The allowable bet range (i.e., min – max bet limits)
- If you are allowed to buy back into the event
You’ll need to consider other factors like whether the tables pay 3:2 or 6:5 before you launch headfirst into a blackjack tournament.
Tournament play is like any other casino venture; the more time and dedication you put into it, the better your results. Sometimes, the learning bumps and bruises are discouraging, but perseverance is the key.
Critical Differences Between Tournaments and Standard Games
Now that we’ve covered some of the things to expect and what to look for in a blackjack tournament, let’s turn our attention to some critical differences between tournaments and classic games.
In typical real money blackjack games, the dealer (casino) is your opponent. Still, as I stated above, you’re battling the dealer and your fellow players in tournaments. This means you’ll need to not only strategize against the house as you always should but also against the field.
Casino chips you’re playing within standard games hold cash value. This value is representative of the money you paid for the chips, and they are almost as good as having real cash in hand.
During tournament play, the casino will designate special chips that hold absolutely zero cash value. So, it makes it easier for some players to bet more aggressively. During a blackjack tournament, the only money you have staked is your buy-in.
Most savvy blackjack players will use basic blackjack strategy to cut the house edge to as little as 0.5%. Cutting the casino’s advantage this low will give players an opportunity to hit the casino on a hot streak and walk away with the money.
Basic strategy plays a significant role in tournament blackjack. Still, players also need to implement tournament strategies to combat the other competitors. However, the casino has no edge over players in tournaments because players use their skills to compete for head-to-head prizes.
Still, only the top 1/8 of players in the field are likely to see any return on their investment. Finally, the casino will pay you as much money as you can win when you drop a stack of cash on the table for a classic game. When you’re in tournament play, you’ll only be able to win as much as the prize structure dictates.
Luckily, if you have a profoundly rough session, you won’t lose more than your buy-in.
Which Tournament Is Right for You?
Once you grasp the concept of a blackjack tournament and the main differences between a tournament and a regular game, it’s time to check out what type of tournament is the best fit.
Much like blackjack tables in a casino, tournaments come in a wide range of variations with a host of different rules. Because of this similarity, you need to approach blackjack tournaments like you would casino table games.
Let’s look through some of the tournament set-ups you’ll be the most likely to encounter.
The most abundant type of blackjack tournament is the multi-table events. In these contests, players compete with the rest of the table to move onto the next round.
You must understand that you’ll want to stay ahead of the table to move on and be in a strong enough position going forward that you aren’t knocked out early.
Sit and go events are almost exclusively reserved for online casinos. These events have players buy in to fill the table then immediately begin in an elimination format.
Sit and go events are fast-paced events where players tend to bet aggressively and coast on the lead.
Non-elimination tournaments are more prevalent in land-based casinos. Competitors will play a predetermined number of hands, and the player with the most chips wins.
Within these tournaments are several more variations regarding prizes and buy-ins. For example, a freeroll event is something the players can enjoy without any buy-in at all.
Usually, these events are by invitation to the casino’s VIP rewards players with a high enough rating.
One of the best benefits you can find in a blackjack tournament is the guaranteed buy-in. The casino will ensure a large purse to create buzz around an event and draw in more players.
When picking the type of event you’re playing, try to mirror the tournaments that work best for your playing style.
Learn How to Implement Strategy
Basic strategy is always essential at the blackjack table. It makes no difference if you’re playing a cash game or tournament; basic strategy helps you beat the dealer more often.
However, you also need to learn the best strategies for besting your competitors, which sometimes looks different. The most noticeable change will be the necessity to vary your bet amount depending on where you sit in the field.
For example, if you’re sitting behind the table leaders with a short time left on the clock, you will want to consider raising your bet amount. When you catch a solid run of wins with an inflated bet amount, it can swiftly close the gap on your competition.
So, suppose the leader is within striking distance. In that case, you may consider dropping your bet amount to below everyone on the table and allowing them to fall back to you.
The method and implementation will vary based on the situation, but keep a close eye on your position relative to the leader and those close to you.
Suppose you’re enjoying a comfortable lead. In that case, it will be of maximum benefit to you to match your bet amount to the player in second place.
This strategy allows you to maintain a decent gap without causing a massive swing in either direction. When your goal is merely making it into the money, you have a better shot by not trying to sprint towards the finish.
You’ll need to put in a lot of work before you are considered a tournament veteran. I recommend you read all of the literature you can find on blackjack tournament strategy as you progress.
It will also pay tremendous dividends if you log every tournament you play. Note the buy-in, format, number of players, rules, how you finished, and wins or losses.
Having this information to reference in the future can be highly beneficial down the line.
Do Blackjack Tournaments Make Sense for You?
That will depend on your own ambitions. Do you want to play a game where skill will almost assuredly make you a profit? If yes, then blackjack tournaments are right for you.
Do you want to broaden your horizons and improve your overall blackjack skills? If yes, then blackjack tournaments sound like a great fit.
Blackjack tournaments combine tons of entertainment with a legit shot at profits. Start researching the tournaments at your favorite casino and make a plan to make your debut on your next visit.
The simple fact that the house edge doesn’t exist in tournaments should be enough to get you off the couch and in the casino.