Blackjack Tournament Series (Part 1 of 7)

02 September 2008

Broadly speaking there are two forms of blackjack, house blackjack & tournament blackjack. House blackjack is a casino game where you play against the dealer. Tournament blackjack is when you take on your peers.

I was reading up on a major online blackjack tournament scheduled for later this month, when I realized that there isn’t a great deal of information to be found regarding tournament play. I decided to do something about this and introduce you to the differences you will encounter. I will teach you how to adjust your game to the situation, your opponents, and your positioning.

I know a lot of live blackjack players who won’t play online because they don’t trust the virtual side of online gaming. If they feel that way, playing against the house is not a great option. For card counters, the counting aspect is practically negligible as the cards are automatically reshuffled after each round, eliminating the advantages.

I am a great fan of online poker. The major boom and its popularity is largely down to tournament poker. Yes, you can play cash games. Yes, you can play against the house playing casino poker, but the main draw is the tournament scene. The human race, by nature relies on social interaction. I won’t go into a sociology discussion, but the difference between house play and tournament play online, is the ability to interact and test yourself against your peers.

People remember tournament winners. People want to show their skills off by being tournament winners. The great thing about tournament play is that once you pay your entry fee, you are ready to go. You do not need to worry about going on tilt and blowing your budget. You play a tournament until you get knocked out, or win. You may set a budget playing against the house, but it is far too easy to forget, so tournament play is often the better option for those who do not know when to quit.

People need to use strict bankroll management when tackling cash games. It is all too easy when you are on a losing streak, to up your stakes and chase your losses. This can kill your bankroll. This can demoralize you. The beauty of playing in tournaments is that you have your fixed goal. You know how much you are investing in a session, and if you progress in the tournament, you can expect good returns, with limited risk to your bankroll. If you get knocked out early, at least you are comforted with the knowledge that you have played within your intended budget.

Many players love blackjack because of its simplicity. Very few people play in blackjack tournaments, although I can see this changing in the not too distant future. Blackjack is one of the most popular games in live casinos. You can find lots of information on blackjack strategy but very little on the tournament angle.

Back in 2000, there was scarce information online on how to improve your poker skills. Most players learned through trial and error. If you persevered with it, and invested hours upon hours of your time each week, you could hope to move up the ranks and earn a few dollars. With such limited information, you had to do it the hard way.

Now, with masses of information on No-Limit Texas Hold’em, the game has become extremely competitive. Exploiting novice mistakes has become a less common occurrence, so much so, that I made the move to Omaha Hi/Low (a variation of poker), where the competition is softer, player mistakes are more common and my profit margins are generally better. This is why I see a great opportunity opening up for blackjack players who set their focus on tournament play.

People are competitive by nature. They see a tournament and want to massage their egos, proving their ability over others. As blackjack is such a familiar game, ‘everyone and their dog’ think they can play. Some may be proficient cash game players but when it comes to tournament play, it’s a whole new ball game entirely. Strike when the iron is hot. Learn the secrets of tournament blackjack and prove your superiority over your non trained opponents.

I will give you a short introduction into the history of blackjack tournaments. This should whet your appetite. I will then take you through the basic rules of tournament play. Once you are comfortable with the mechanics of the game, you should be ready for some strategy. You will learn how to adapt your play according to the situation, develop a betting formula to outwit your opponents. I will then go on to offer you some tips on how to sharpen up your skills. To finish off the series, I will show you how to approach your end game play.