How to Play Online Blackjack Tournaments
Although online blackjack is a great casino game, some New Zealand players may occasionally find the appeal of playing on their own a bit limited. So if you think the ability to see and interact with other players, and challenge yourself against them, would add a further level of interest, why not consider playing online blackjack tournaments? This is basically blackjack with an extra competitive edge.
Online Blackjack vs Blackjack Tournaments
In an online blackjack tournament, your major opponents are the other players, not the dealer. All players begin the tournament with the same ‘virtual’ bankroll and will complete exactly the same number of hands. The winner is the player with the most chips, who will then progress to the next round. This process eventually leads to a tournament final with prizes for the outright winner and other high-ranking finalists.
There are some important differences to notice if you want to progress your tournament play. For instance, when you play online blackjack games alone it’s you against the dealer. However, when you play tournament blackjack you are not only playing against the dealer but against other players too. And though you never want the dealer to triumph over the table when playing companionless, there may be some tournament circumstances in which it will be much to your advantage if the dealer wins. When playing alone with a modest bankroll, you rarely expect to win big. But the winner of a tournament final can win a substantial amount and pay only a small tournament entry fee.
It’s at least theoretically possible to lose heavily in blackjack, but the most you can lose in a tournament is your modest entry fee. And again, in an independant game, you must use a basic blackjack strategy to maximise your advantage and hopefully give yourself an edge by learning how to count cards. Whereas in a tournament you should have mastered a basic blackjack strategy but also know when to change tactics in order to outwit your fellow players.
Tournament play is all about securing and maintaining an advantage. So not only must you remain aware of the importance of the dealer’s upcard, but you must also know whether or not you are ahead of the field. Because at the end of the round it’s the player with the greatest number of chips who gets to advance to the next round of the tournament.
Blackjack Tournament Formats
You may find online blackjack tournaments using different formats. Here are some common options:
Eliminator tournaments: These are undoubtedly the most prevalent option. In this system, you play against fellow players at your table. Only the winner gets to automatically move on to the next round. Accumulator tournaments: In this format, you play against all other competitors for a set number of rounds. In these tournaments, everyone gets to see the leader board and thus can gauge who is ahead at every stage. After the final round, the outright winner is the player who has accumulated the highest number of chips.
Scheduled eliminations: A variant popularised by TV media, this kind of tournament eliminates the player with the lowest amount of chips at preset intervals. The final round then consists of a head-to-head contest between the remaining competitors to decide the winner.
Live money blackjack tournaments: In most tournament games, the chips allocated to the players have no monetary value – they are just a method of scoring. However, with a designated live-money event, all chips must be bought and can be converted back into cash at the end of the tournament. In such circumstances, all your stakes have a real-money value, so every gameplay involves risking your own cash.
Mini tournaments: Such tournaments may be available daily in online casinos. They typically feature a fairly modest entry fee, don’t take long to play, and have a relatively small prize pool too.
Major tournaments: This type of tournament will cost a little more to enter, may quite often take place over more than one day and can have a substantial prize pool – often running to six figures. New Zealand land-based casinos often schedule such events across a weekend and may offer competitors free gifts alongside discounted meals and accommodation.
Sit ’n’ Go tournaments: This format tends to run continuously and thus will start once the required quota of players has been assembled. Many online casinos include this option which is a popular choice for gamers.
For tournament novices, it’s not advisable to start off getting involved in live-money tournament play. The best way to start is via the classic eliminator tournaments: The idea is easy to grasp, such games are widely available online, and the amount of money at stake is comparatively small. With tournament play, everyone has a chance to win, though it can take time to develop a strategic approach which is optimised for blackjack tournament play.
Tips for Online Blackjack Tournaments
Analyse the prize pool: The most desirable tournaments to enter are those where the prizes returned to the winning players represent close to 100% of the total entry fees. Some tournaments may even offer prize money which exceeds 100% of the entry stakes.
Study each tournament’s rules: Make sure you are familiar with the tournament rules before you decide to play. You will need to have a clear understanding of how many hands will be played in each round, how players advance, how elimination works, and more. If you have questions, ask the organisers to explain.
Never risk breaking the rules: For instance, online blackjack tournaments with a live dealer, as well as land-based casino tournaments, all ban players from speaking to opponents, or speaking to any observers who may be present. This is one example of maintaining a game which is fair to all participants. Another common issue is the illegal ‘string bet’ – holding several chips in your palm and placing them one by one in your betting area. To avoid this problem, stack the chips you wish to bet, in advance, close to your betting area. As you bet, you can then stay legal by sliding them into position with just one movement.