A blackjack tournament has one integral difference compared to a normal game of blackjack, namely that players compete against each other rather than the dealer.
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In any given tournament, players begin with identical bankrolls, and all play an equal number of hands. After the agreed number of hands, the player with the most chips is declared the winner, and most likely progresses to the next round, to play other table winners. Occasionally the top two players on a table can advance.
Eventually players will be narrowed down to a single table of six or seven players, who then play a final round of hands to decide the champion. Blackjack tournament rules mean the winner will naturally receive most of the prize money, with lesser rewards for other finalists.
The goal in each game is therefore to end the round with more chips than fellow players at the table, and to reach the final which usually signifies a guaranteed prize pool for the tournament.
The key therefore of tournament strategy is not necessarily to end up with more chips than when you started. You could theoretically end a round with fewer chips than you started with, yet still have more chips than any other player at the table. This could happen if the dealer has a run of extremely good hands. It is important therefore to pay close attention to what fellow players do and their bankroll, and play accordingly. Many online casinos offer blackjack tournaments, so there is ample opportunity to play in them.
The majority of online blackjack tournaments are open to the public, though a few require an invitation from the host. An entry fee to participate in a tournament is usually required, and in many cases should a player be eliminated in the early rounds, they can buy back into the tournament.
Tournaments are run in a number of different formats.
With a traditional elimination, you play against those on your table, with table winners advancing to the next round, and all others eliminated, unless there is an option to buy your way back in. This is the best option for beginners learning tournament strategy and this is the most popular format of play.
With non-elimination or accumulation tournaments, you compete against all other players in the tournament, with a leaderboard on display.
Another tournament type is the elimination format, one whereby after certain numbers of hands a player is eliminated until only one remains. With live-money tournaments, players actually buy their chips so they have real value unlike other tournament formats.
The major tournaments are the most expensive to enter and often take over a day to complete. With online blackjack, quite a popular format is sit ‘n’ go, whereby as soon as six players are available, the tournament commences.
CASINO BLACKJACK vs TOURNAMENT BLACKJACK
Let us directly compare how casino blackjack differs from tournament blackjack:
- In casino blackjack, you play against the dealer. In tournament play, you compete against fellow players and the dealer. A tournament strategy is important.
- With casino blackjack, players with a modest bankroll are unlikely to win significant sums of money. However, in a tournament setup, chances of bigger wins are more achievable from modest beginnings.
- Players can lose unlimited amounts in casino blackjack, as long as there is a bankroll to dip into. This is not the case in tournaments, where the only cost is the entry fee.
- In casino blackjack, your simple goal is to win hands. In tournaments it is not quite that simple. The goal is to end the competition with more chips than your fellow players, however many chips that may be. Succeed in that goal and you will then go on to win the tournament.
- What your fellow players do is not important when playing casino blackjack. This is not the case in tournaments, where it is important to understand the consequences of other players’ actions, betting positions, and more.
- Finally, in casino blackjack, you would never root for the dealer to defeat players at the table. This is not the case in tournaments, when you will actively wish fellow players to lose.
The key to succeeding in tournament blackjack is using the blackjack tournament rules to succeed against your fellow competitors. Players need to adapt to the different mechanisms of tournament play and develop a tournament strategy. These should include the following:
- One key skill is to count chips quickly and accurately – both yours and those of fellow players.
- Learning how to lock out an opponent so that they get eliminated whatever the outcome of the hand.
- Mastering when to deviate from the basic blackjack strategy.
- Understanding the importance of betting position in tournament play. For example, betting first in a final (or elimination) hand puts you at a disadvantage, so it helps to enter that round with a chip advantage over other players.
As you can see, blackjack tournament rules bring with them a raft of tactical changes that need to be mastered should you wish to succeed, though the rules of the game remain the same.
SHOULD YOU PLAY BLACKJACK TOURNAMENTS?
Blackjack tournament rules differ from casino rules as you compete against fellow players as well as the dealer. Whilst the rules are mostly the same, success in tournament play requires a player to master a new set of skills and a tournament strategy, including counting chips, understanding betting positions, how much to bet and when to deviate from the basic strategy.
Players should explore tournaments if they find the advantages listed attractive to them. There should only be a set entry fee, thus limiting potential losses, but novice players are advised to begin with the simplest traditional elimination format whilst they learn the ropes.