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HOME > STRATEGY > Strategies & Tips > Beating blackjack tournaments

Beating blackjack tournaments

14 April 2018

By Henry Tamburin

If you are planning to enter your first blackjack tournament, here are some tips to help you win.

1. Read the tournament rules.

When you arrive at the tournament and get your seat assignment, ask for a copy of the tournament playing rules. Carefully read them before the tournament begins. Be sure that that you understand before the round begins the following:
• How much bankroll each player gets.
• What the minimum and maximum betting limits are.
• How many hands are played in the round.
• What the playing rules are, and what a winning blackjack hand pays (in many tournaments it pays 2-1).
• Whether they have a countdown (meaning, do they stop play, count everyone’s bankroll and announce it, and if so, on what hand does this occur).

2. Always slide all of your chips at once into the betting spot.

In tournaments, you are not allowed to take a stack of chips in your hand and drop them inside the betting spot (this is known as a “string bet”). If a player does this, the first chip to hit the felt inside the betting spot will be the player’s wager. To avoid string bets, always stack the chips that you want to bet outside of the betting spot (with highest-denomination chip on the bottom and lowest on top), and then slide your stack of chips inside the betting spot.

3. Do not converse with spectators.

In many tournaments, you are not allowed to talk to spectators, or communicate with them in any manner, or you can be disqualified (and yes, I have observed players being disqualified from tournaments for doing this). In some tournaments, you are not even allowed to converse with your fellow players especially during the final round. You also cannot bring strategy cards or cheat sheets with you when you play, nor ask the dealer for advice on how to play your hand or how much to bet. You are on your own in tournaments.

4. Determine your betting position on the last hand.

The first-base position rotates from one player to the next in tournaments. Depending on where the marker is on the first hand (indicating which player is betting first), mentally determine your betting position on the last round. For example, suppose there are six players, you are in seat #2, 30 hands are played in the tournament round, and the player in seat #4 bets first on the first hand. This means on hand #30, the marker will be in front of player #3, who will be the first to bet, and you (in seat #2) will be the last to bet and the last to act. However, keep in mind that the order of betting on the last hand may change if a player busts out (i.e., losses all his chips). If the latter occurs, you need to recalculate where you will be betting on the last hand.

As a general rule, if you are going to be “on the button” on the last hand (i.e., betting and acting first), you need to bet more aggressively during the round so that you try to get the lead prior to the last hand (even if it means you must go all in on the next-to-the-last hand). On the other hand, if you are betting last on the last hand, you have a big advantage over your opponents and you can bet more conservatively (at the minimum, you don’t want to be more than one max bet behind the leader going into the last hand).

5. Wait your turn to bet.

Do not bet out of turn even if you see other players do it. If you do so, you give away the advantage you have by seeing what your opponents bet before you have to bet.

6. Bet opposite the leader.

In the early rounds, if you are behind in chip count, bet opposite the leader. If he bets small, bet big, and vice versa.

7. If you want to make a catch-up bet, do it by making one big bet.

It is better to make one large bet rather than a series of smaller bets if you have to make a catch-up bet. Wait to make this large bet until the marker passes you (so you will be betting last when you make the big bet and your opponents can’t match your bet).

8. Match the bets of your opponents if you have the lead (known as correlating).

If you are the chip leader and betting last, match the bets that your opponents make to it more difficult for them to pass you (if all the players win their hand, or all lose their hand, you maintain your lead).

9. Don’t be afraid to double-down on the last hand.

Play every hand with the basic playing strategy, except possibly the last hand. If winning your last hand will not get you the lead in chip count, then you should double-down regardless of what cards you hold. (I once lost in a final tournament round to a player who doubled-down on 10-9 and miraculously drew a 2 for 21, winding up with $50 more chips than me.)

10. When in doubt, put it out.

If you don’t know how much to bet on the last hand, here’s a simple rule to remember: Make a maximum bet.

This article is provided by the Frank Scoblete Network. Melissa A. Kaplan is the network's managing editor. If you would like to use this article on your website, please contact Casino City Press, the exclusive web syndication outlet for the Frank Scoblete Network. To contact Frank, please e-mail him at fscobe@optonline.net.

Henry Tamburin
For a FREE three-month subscription to Henry Tamburin's Blackjack Insider e-Newsletter, which includes full membership privileges, sign up at www.bjinsider.com/free. For a free copy of Tamburin's Casino Gambling Catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or go to www.smartgaming.com. For information on the Golden Touch Blackjack course taught by Tamburin call 1-866-WINBJ-21 or visit www.goldentouchblackjack.com.

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