How to Play Blackjack Tournaments: Rules & Strategy
Blackjack tournaments have become increasingly popular over the last few years. Following the rise in ratings of poker tournaments, especially the World Series of Poker, live and online casinos alike have begun offering an increased volume of tournaments for blackjack fans. While the specific rules of the blackjack game are resolute, there are some additional rules applied to tournaments that make them much more exhaustive than the standard game. A player should observe all of the rules of blackjack tournaments at length before venturing into a lasting event.
Static Rules of Blackjack Tournaments
These are rules that apply to all blackjack tournaments. The first and most notable variation between standard blackjack and tournament play is that the deal and first-player position are constantly rotated. It doesn’t matter who is sitting in the standard 1st-seat position. The dealer will rotate clockwise the first player to be dealt cards with each new hand.
In similar fashion, the first to bet is also rotated with the deal. Being the last player to bet in every round would be incredibly advantageous in a blackjack tournament. This is why the deal and player bets are constantly rotated, thus no player claims and exclusive advantage over another. In a standard blackjack game, players can bet in any order they like, and the deal begins the moment all bets are placed. It is not so in a tournament setting.
Blackjack tournaments will allow each bettor to place one secret bet during each round of the blackjack tournament. A secret bet is a wager that no other player at the table is able to see the amount of. Secret bets are often placed by towards the end of the round, when staying out of low-stack position is crucial.
Variable Rules of Blackjack Tournaments
Some rules will vary in blackjack tournaments, including the way competitors are eliminated, re-buy opportunities and the size of each player’s chip stack at the start of each round.
Unlike poker tournaments, many blackjack tournaments will start each round of play by giving all remaining competitors a new, identical chip stack. This gives all players an equal opportunity to win with each round, instead of giving the chip leader from the previous round a distinct advantage. However, some blackjack tournaments will allow chips to carry over.
Re-buys are a common attribute in blackjack tournaments. Most often, players who get eliminated will be given one chance to pay the entry fee again to re-enter the event. In rare cases, players may be allowed to re-buy more than once.
The elimination process for a blackjack tournament can be handled in one of three ways. Some tournaments will only eliminate the lowest stack at each blackjack table at the end of each round of play. Other rules may eliminate all but the highest stack per table, while others still will allow only the two highest stacked players to move on. The elimination rules will generally be based on the preferred speed of the tournament.
Also associated with the length of a blackjack tournament is the option to time each round. Most blackjack tournaments are not timed, but for the sake of speeding up the games and/or regulating their exact length (especially common with televised events), each round of the blackjack tournament may be set to last for a specified amount of time.