You may have noticed the increasing popularity of blackjack tournaments, both online and in the live casinos. Blackjack itself is a very old card game but the concept of a blackjack tournament is still pretty new. When the poker boom happened a few years ago it was only natural that blackjack tournaments would soon make an appearance. With so many blackjack tournament options to choose from, however, it pays to do a little research and find out which tournament format is best.
Online Blackjack Tournament Formats
We’re going to focus primarily on online blackjack because that is what many of the Counting Edge readers play but also because the convenience of an online blackjack tournament is unparalleled. With online casinos you can pretty much find a blackjack tournament available every day of the week. Most of these also allow you to play your hands anytime within a specified time period (24 hours is the norm) so you aren’t tied down to a specific time to play.
The absolute best online blackjack tournament to enter is the freeroll. A freeroll is a blackjack tournament sponsored by the online casino in which you are given a free entry. There is no buy-in. This means you have a chance to win money without risking your own. Many online casinos reward their players with freeroll tournaments from time to time, so always check your preferred casino’s website for the latest details.
A freeroll blackjack tournament works like this. Typically, you will be given an initial amount of “play money” to wager. This money is only good for the blackjack tournament and cannot be used for other games in the online casino as you would with other blackjack bonuses. You’ll then be given the opportunity to play a set number of blackjack hands with your tournament chips. The number of hands can vary from casino to casino, ranging from 20 on the low end to 50 or so on the high end. You can bet any amount of your tournament bankroll that you like on each hand but if you run out of chips before you have played all of your hands then your tournament is over. At the end of the set number of hands your total money becomes your score. In other words, if you began with $2,000 in tournament money and finished with $4,000, then your score is 4000. The player with the highest score once all players have finished playing their hands is declared the winner and collects a real cash prize. You may find slight variations in this format. For example, the online casino may use the actual dollar amount ($4,000) as the total.
An advantage of a freeroll is obvious. It costs you nothing to enter and you have a chance to win real money that you can cash out. The disadvantage is that you can’t really apply much tournament strategy because you won’t really be aware of the totals of your opponents until after your score is posted. Therefore, the best strategy is simply to amass the largest amount of winnings that you can.
A real money blackjack tournament is another popular format that can be found in the online casino. This blackjack tournament works just like the freeroll except that it costs you real money to enter. You will have to buy-in in order to receive your tournament chips and make wagers. The big advantage of a real money tournament is that the cash prize for winning is typically much higher than it is in a freeroll because most of the money used by the players to buy-in is added to the prize pool. This can easily reach thousands of dollars depending on how much it costs to enter. Most online real money blackjack tournaments have an entry fee of $50-$100 dollars, but occasionally a casino will host a big tournament for the big players with a buy-in of $1,000 or more.
The Elimination Blackjack Tournament Format
While there are a very few online casinos that might offer an elimination blackjack tournament from time to time, most elimination tournaments are found in the live casinos. In this format you will have to play through a series of rounds in order to reach the final table. The individual rounds are played much like the online tournaments we mentioned above; you’ll be given a set amount of tournament chips and allowed to make wagers on a set number of hands, usually 20. If you win an individual round you will then be moved to a new table and a new round begins. This continues until only one table of players remain.
There are some advantages to an elimination blackjack tournament. One is that you only have to beat the other players at your table to move on to the next round. This is less daunting than beating out 5,000 players in one freeroll round. You can also see the chips of your opponents and therefore make better strategy decisions about how to bet.
The disadvantage is that once you lose in a single round you are out of the tournament. It can be really frustrating to know that you won enough chips in your round to beat the winning player at another table but not enough to beat the winning player at yours. Elimination tournaments can also be grueling affairs that take hours to complete. Unlike an online tournament you cannot choose when to play your hands. If you aren’t sitting at the table when your round begins you are stuck out and will forfeit your entry.
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