Blackjack tournaments are usually played using a different kind of strategy than regular table blackjack. These tourneys are offered either at online casinos or land-based casinos as well and they are typically pretty intense. Players usually are competing with each other rather than the dealer so this is a huge difference in strategy. This is very similar to how poker players play in the World Series of Poker. As a matter of fact, there is also a World Series of Blackjack, which is the largest tournament for blackjack in existence. Other big names include the Ultimate Blackjack Tour and Celebrity Blackjack.
Introduction and Basics of Blackjack Tournaments
The major concept of this game is playing against other players at the same table. A tournament usually has a fixed number of rounds, usually between 15 and 30 hands of blackjack, and whoever has the most chips at the end of the game is declared the winner. A large tournament is broken up into different qualifying rounds where the winner at each table advances to the next round, semi-finals and eventually the championship round.
Each table has between 4 and 6 players all playing against the dealer. There is usually a fixed buy-in or entry fee and players all receive the same number of chips to start off with. Therefore everyone starts off on a level playing field. Much of the money goes into a pot or prize pool for the winners. Sometimes the casino will add in some extra money or overlay into the prize pool. This is sometimes known as positive expectation as there is more money in the pot than all the members of the game put into it. This is also good for the casino by adding money as it serves as a great promotional tool to get more and new players involved. It also ensures that there will actually be some nice cash in the pool as well for the winners if not too many people show up.
There are usually between 3 and 5 rounds of elimination that take place in order to eliminate the number of people and decide the winners. This also allows many of the skilled players to advance to make the tournament more interesting, but there is a little bit of luck involved as well. The tournament brackets are set up much like any other kind of sport, the numbers of players continue to dwindle and only the best get to advance. Some tournaments may allow players to re-enter with an additional fee during the early qualifying rounds, especially in small tournaments.
Also, there is not just one winner in a blackjack tournament, but many players who end the game in different prize brackets. Most of the time players who get far enough in the tournament will get their money back and break even. The farther you get into the contest, the more money you make in the end. Depending on what place you finish at, you will win some certain percentage of the total prize pool, especially in the larger tournaments. Although in some cases the prizes in each bracket may be fixed, which ensures that in larger tournaments, the winner will receive a bigger piece of the pool.
I said before that the players are playing against themselves, but only in the chip count. A player must win chips against the dealer though. Since the time is limited in the game, players need to use a different type of strategy that takes into account concerns such as not letting a competitor get ahead while not risking the possibility of losing all of your chips. The most important thing to do in the game is to carefully watch the bankrolls of other competitors. This general rule of thumb is paramount!
To make the game fair, there is a button or marker that moves around the table after each round. This is widely common in poker games and it ensures that one player is not always being forced to make the first move on every hand. The button on a blackjack table ensures maximum fairness and the order used for betting in each round changes so each person can get to be the last player to make moves and also the first player to bet. The advantage falls on the person who gets to bet and act last because they get to analyze the actions of all the other players beforehand.
Casino Benefits and Normal Prize Values
The prizes in a tournament depend on the entry fees and how many people get involved. A large tournament with a small buy in will usually have a lot of people and will have a medium sized prize pool. A small tournament with luxurious entry fees will usually have a large prize pool. The best blackjack tournaments are ones that are large and have medium to large buy-in fees such as the World Series of Blackjack. These kinds of tournaments usually have million dollar prizes. Usually tournaments take place at "brick and mortar" casinos, but players can also play blackjack online for money as sometimes tournaments are available there too in addition to the standard game.
A small buy in fee at a casino could be as low as $5 and even less for online casinos. This would ensure at least a few hundred to a few thousand dollars in the pot. A medium buy-in could be about $50 to $100 and a prize pool typically around $10,000 if enough people are involved. A large buy-in could range from $500 to $10,000 and this would create a prize pool typically as large as $100K and even a million dollars. A good rule of thumb is there will normally be about 100 people entering into a tournament so just multiply the entry fee by 100 to get some rough figures. Also, the winner usually wins between 25% and 50% of the pot depending on the rules of the contest.
Always take advantage of specials going on at casinos. You can save a lot of money, especially during the high end tournaments because they tend to cater for the high rollers especially. They want to treat their "VIP" nicely so they return another time or just to get more people into the casino. So check out specials such as free rooms or discounts, free food and gifts. If you are planning a trip to Las Vegas, Atlantic City or major casino, check out their website ahead of time and see what offers are going on, especially if you are planning on entering a tournament anyways! This could actually save hundreds or even thousands of dollars depending on how much money you plan on bringing with and what you plan on doing during your vacation.