If you’re planning to play some blackjack online, or in your local casino, you should know that there is another option besides the common blackjack tables. We are talking about blackjack tournaments. Here we will cover the basics of blackjack tournaments: how they work? what is the correct strategy and where to find the best tournaments online.
As far as card games go, blackjack is actually one of the easier casino games to learn and start playing. And once you’re familiar with the game, you’ll probably want to play not just against the dealer but also against other players. Although not as popular as slots tournaments, their elusiveness can make them even more fun to play when you do actually find them. Blackjack tournaments can be found at land-based casinos and on the net. The Major events that have been held in Las Vegas include the World Series of Blackjack and Ultimate Blackjack Tour and recently, Poker Stars added $100k Blackjack tourney to its famous Caribbean Adventure event.
There are a decent number of online casinos which are now offering blackjack tournaments. Well-established online casino sites are definitely your best bet. You can also talk to fellow online blackjack tournament players to get their thoughts about specific casinos (to see what their reputation is like, and how frequently the events are running on the site).
How Do Blackjack Tournaments Work?
Tournament participants all pay an entry fee plus the rake to buy-in to the tournament. Unlike poker tournaments, blackjack events are played for a predetermined number of hands. If you’re looking to play blackjack tournaments online, you will be required to register an account with the casino and deposit real money funds to your account (credit card, e-wallet, etc) to cover the buy-in, unless it’s a freeroll.
All the players involved in the tournament receive the same amount of starting chips. The player that accumulates the most chips after the predetermined number of hands wins the tournament. Regardless of the tournament format, all of the action will proceed pretty much in the same manner. When the tournament starts, players will be automatically seated and dealt the first hand from the shoe. In your turn you can choose to hit, stand, double, split – all according to the specific blackjack game the tourney is based on.
Blackjack tournaments vary widely one from another: multi -round, single table, scheduled, sit n’ go, fixed prize pool, players pot and various combinations of all those factors. We will explain those briefly.
Simple tourney type. The game goes for a certain number of hands; in the end the player with the highest chip stake wins.
Multi stage event. You can look at it as a series of single table events. The winner of each table proceeds to the next round and so on, until they reach the final table. The winner of the final table wins the tourney.
Sit ‘n’ Go
If you play poker, then you are probably familiar with the term Sit ‘n’ Go. Sit’n Go events are open tournaments that start well all the seats are filled. For example a single table Sit ‘n’ Go can start when at least 6 players signed for the event. It might take few seconds or few hours, but it won’t start before the minimum number of players is reached.
The name pretty much explains itself. The tournament starts at certain time with the number of players the bought in till the deal line. As you will see below, a combination of sheduled event with guaranteed prize pool is where you can get the best odds.
The Pot vs. Guaranteed Prize Pool
There are two common ways by which the prize is determined. The first one is referred as the pool, which means that the combination of all players’ buy-ins and re-bays, minus some rake that the casino takes, will determine the prize of the tournament. For example, in event with 100 players making $5 buy-ins and 50 players with $5 re-buys, the pool will be $750 (100×5 + 50×5), minus some small house rake.
Guaranteed Prize pool is the minimum amount the casino offers, even if only 1 player sign up. After the number of buy-ins crosses the guarantee, the pool will continue to grow as in the previous option. There is also a third type where the prize pool is fixed: it remains the same if there is only 1 player or a million.
Fixed prize and Guaranteed Pool can offer some amazing opportunities, especially when it comes to online casinos. For example, we recently saw an event with $5 buy-in and $4000 prize with less than 50 participants. Amazing. We will explain more in a separate article.
That about sums up the very basics of playing blackjack tournaments. There are several versions of blackjack games you will be able to play, including but not limited to Blackjack Switch, Double Exposure, Pontoon, European Blackjack and many more. Make sure you know which variation will be in play before the tournament begins, since each variation has its unique set of rules.
It also goes without saying that if you expect to do well in blackjack tournaments, whether played live/online, it is important that you have a good understanding of basic blackjack strategy, as it’s essential to winning consistently, giving you a better chance of taking down any event you participate in.