If there’s one thing that’s missing from the game of blackjack, it’s the sense of competition between players. While a game like poker will have you battling it out against the other players at your table, blackjack – for all its strategic depth – only pits you against the dealer. Furthermore, once you’ve learned the proper strategies for blackjack, you’ll rarely mix up the way you play.
But blackjack tournaments turn this all around. In a blackjack tournament, you’re no longer facing off against the dealer, but against the other players at your table in an effort to get to the next round or win a prize. These tournaments combine the gameplay and wagering aspects of blackjack with the competition of a serious poker competition, turning blackjack into an intense battle between you and your neighbors.
Online blackjack tournaments are available at a number of different online casinos. If you’re looking to give a blackjack tournament a try, you can check out one of the casinos we’ve listed here and get started playing right away. If you want more information on how blackjack tournaments work before you start playing, keep reading below for more information on the rules and strategies that govern these events.
How to Play Online Blackjack Tournaments
In many ways, an online blackjack tournament is very similar in structure to a poker tournament. Instead of bringing cash chips to the table, players instead pay a buy-in up front that covers all of their play for the entire tournament. In exchange for this entry fee, players are given a set number of chips to use during play. As in regular blackjack, you’ll be playing against the dealer in each hand, and receiving winnings based on how you do against the dealer’s hand; however, in the end, it’s your chip total compared to those of your opponents that dictates how well you’re doing.
Typically, players are sat at a table that will feature 5-7 players in total. Each table will then play a certain number of hands – 20-30 is typical – after which the top players will move on to the next round of the tournament. The number of players who move on can vary depending on the tournament rules, but you’ll often see either one or two players earn “tickets” into the next round.
As in poker, tournament blackjack uses a button to designate the player who will act last during each hand. This is important, as it dictates not only who will play first on each hand, but also who has to make their wager amount known first. This is critical (especially later in each round), as the amount other players bet may have a significant impact on the strategy of those who have yet to make a bet. Since the goal is to have the most (or perhaps the second most) chips at the end of the round, players can use the information gained from other players in order to try to position themselves in the winning positions.
There are generally three ways a player might be eliminated from a blackjack tournament. First, a player can finish the round outside of the positions that allow them to win prizes or move on to the next round. Secondly, if a player runs out of chips at any point during a round, they are immediately removed from the tournament, adding an element of survival to strategy that should be familiar to any poker player. Finally, some online blackjack tournaments are known as “elimination blackjack” tournaments. In these events, the player with the fewest chips after specified hands will also be eliminated, which will give players towards the bottom of the chip counts in the early going an incentive to play aggressively and stay out of the elimination spots.
Online Blackjack Tournament Strategy
Online blackjack tournaments, like poker tournaments, feature a mix of skill and luck. However, skillful play is critical if you want to have strong results in the long run, even if luck can play a big role in how well you do in any given tournament.
Much like at a regular blackjack table, you’ll find that players have a tendency to win and lose together on many hands. While there are certainly hands in which only one or two players will win against a strong dealer hand, or a couple people bust before seeing the dealer do the same, most hands will see most of the table with the same result – beating a poor dealer hand or losing to a strong one.
This dictates one of the most important tenets of online blackjack tournament strategy. If you are behind and attempting to catch up, you’ll want to make bets of a different size than the leading players whenever possible. This means that if you see the chip leaders making small bets, you’ll want to make large ones, and vice versa. The idea here is that this will give you the maximum chance of catching up if you share the same helpful result with your opponents; when you bet bigger than they do and you both win, you’ll quickly catch up or surpass the leaders, while if you lose when betting small, they’ll fall down to where you are.
This strategy also means that if the wrong result occurs, you can fall even further behind. However, since finishing in the middle of the pack earns you nothing in a blackjack tournament, it is worth the risk of falling to the bottom to have a shot at reaching the top. Conversely, if you’re in the lead, you’ll want to mimic the bets of the players who are close to catching you in the hopes of maintaining your lead.