Blackjack Tournaments Online
While modern blackjack tournaments are a relatively new invention, the game of blackjack can trace its origins back to Europe as early as the 17th century. It has since grown to become the most popular casino banking game in the world, and even modest gambling houses will include at least one table. Now, in the era of microprocessors, the impact and variety of the game is being taken to new heights.
Thanks to the invention of the Internet and the meteoric rise of Texas Hold’em, the tournament concept has become increasingly popular throughout the gaming industry. Players can sign up for a freeroll tournament and try to outlast their fellow players in a game of poker, or they can get comfortable in front of a cutting-edge slot machine while trying to win more money than other participants during a set period of time. But the most intriguing variant has to be the blackjack tournament, a game that combines all the skill of the original game with the risk-taking strategy of events like the World Series of Poker.
In this article, we’ll examine the rules of the game, as well as the differences between live blackjack tournaments and online blackjack tournaments. Some basic blackjack tournament strategy is also included, which should allow you to hit the ground running.
How to Play Tournament Blackjack
In a traditional game of blackjack, the individual player is only competing against the dealer. The success or failure of other players at the table has no bearing on the outcome of these one-on-one battles. This is the opposite of how a blackjack tournament works.
The objective of tournament blackjack is to win more money than the other players at your table. Not only do you still have to contend with the dealer, but you must also factor in your chip stack and those of your opponents.
Players pay to enter the tournament and receive a preset number of chips. These chips are worthless, but do act as a way to keep track of current tournament leaders. At preset intervals of the tournament, chip leaders from tables will advance to later stages, with the final table normally consisting of six players. The winner of the final table will receive the largest cash prize (sometimes being able to keep the money they’ve won), although all finalists will usually finish “in the money.”
In the variation known as Elimination Blackjack, the player with the lowest chip count is eliminated from the game after certain rounds. This forces players to constantly adjust their strategy, especially if they’re trailing the pack with one hand remaining before an elimination round. In some cases, players who bust out of the game are allowed to buy back in.
One other wrinkle is the addition of the dealer button. In classic blackjack, cards are always dealt in the same order around the table. In tournament blackjack, however, being able to bet after everyone else is a major advantage. To keep things fair, the dealer button moves clockwise after each hand and varies the order in which players take their turn.
Differences between Live Blackjack Tournaments and Online Blackjack Tournaments
Whether you’re playing in a live blackjack tournament or an online blackjack tournament, most of the elements of the game will be the same. There are a few differences to watch for, though, and these can be enough to throw off players who aren’t adequately prepared.
Speed of the Game – Of all the differences between live and online blackjack tournaments, this is the most noticeable. In live versions of the game, players talk, dealers shuffle, and all these little distractions add up. Things move much quicker when a computer program can shuffle the cards in an instant and any talk is limited to the chat feature. And unlike the live version of the game, players can even have their bet queued up and ready for instantaneous processing.
Excitement Level – All blackjack tournaments are exciting, but the online version can’t match live play for genuine thrills and tension. This can be especially important for those who get a rush from gambling.
Personal Connection – In live tournaments, dealers may call you by name and your opponents will be sitting all around you. This creates a personal connection that online tournaments can’t match. Then again, playing online means you won’t have to smell someone’s cheap aftershave or deal with obnoxious competitors.
Distractions – Casinos are designed for gambling, but your home probably isn’t. A ringing phone at a crucial moment in a tournament can prove to be a most unwelcome distraction. Then again, a well-prepared (and probably single) player can eliminate such bothers with a sturdy pair of headphones and the music of their choice.
Convenience – If you want to go to a brick-and-mortar casino, you’ll need to drive or fly to get there. You’ll also need to put on something other than slippers and a bathrobe. That’s not the case when you play blackjack from home, as you can be as unkempt as you want to be (not to mention saving money on gas and/or airfare).
Basic Blackjack Tournament Strategy
The following blackjack tournament strategy won’t make you a winner every time, but it will provide a blueprint for the smart way to play.
Go All In – If you’re playing Elimination Blackjack with the rebuy option, you shouldn’t hesitate to bet all your chips when appropriate. This can result in a major lead and force the other players to try and catch up.
Survive in the Early Stages – The objective is to make the final table in a blackjack tournament, so concentrate on surviving during the early rounds. You may need to take a few chances to advance to later rounds, but otherwise you should adopt a calm and deliberate approach.
Increasing the Risk – Once you’ve made the final table, it’s time to start taking more chances. After all, you’ve already finished in the money, so why not take a shot at walking away with the top prize? I’m not suggesting you make stupid moves, but an unconventional strategy can also be just enough to keep your opponents on their heels.
Protect Your Lead – If you have a sizable lead at your table, ease off the throttle and play more conservatively. This will allow you to finish strong enough to advance to the next stage of the tournament.
Play Your Position – Always keep track of the dealer button and know when it will pass to you. If everyone is betting after you, it might be best to play things safe. When you’re betting last, however, you’ll have more options at your disposal.
Whether you’re playing online or at a brick-and-mortar casino, blackjack tournaments are a fun and potentially profitable twist on a classic casino game. The calculated risks take a bit of getting used to, but both rookies and veterans will find the learning curve to be relatively forgiving.