Blackjack tournaments are a staple of any casino, and they may prove tempting to keen players who are enthusiastic to test their skills in the hope of winning an impressive cash prize. Some punters may be put off by the idea of entering a blackjack tournament. They could be worried about the complexities of gameplay, or about looking foolish in front of other players. However, there is no need for concern. In fact, learning the best ways of winning blackjack tournaments isn’t as hard as you might expect. If you already know the rules of the game and have played before, all you need is an insight into advanced strategies to get you through to the final. Then, you can have the best possible chance of scooping the first prize.

What Do You Need to Know About A Blackjack Tournament?

Most blackjack tournaments last for either two or three rounds, with one player from every table moving on to the next round. A semifinal will usually have six or seven tables that will be made up of winners from earlier rounds. The leader from every table in the round goes on to the final. Usually, final tables offer a prize for every player. However, it’s always important to be fully aware of the procedures and rules before entering. If in doubt, you can always ask the dealer any questions.

Some tournaments have rules, such as players betting in a particular order, or blackjack paying out at 2:1. Sometimes, players must announce their bet, and, sometimes, they must slide their wager into the circle. So, finding out the rules before beginning is key. In most cases, the chips used in tournaments don’t have any cash value, so you’ll need to get through to the last round to cash out. That means you need to win every round if you’re going to get a payout.

Getting to The Final

When you play in a poker tournament, you won’t make the last round if all your chips are lost. So, you’ll have to keep the early wagers down to keep you in the action. As a rule, if you begin with $1,000 of chips and the tournament has 20 hands in each round, you should keep your initial wager between $50 and $100. After you win some hands, raise your wager a little, but drop down your bet if you find the dealer wins a lot of hands. Don’t change the strategy until you get to hand 17.

If you manage to get a significant lead, the best-case scenario is you’ll arrive at the 20th hand with a max bet that is higher than that of the player who is closest to you. Should this happen, always keep the final bet sufficiently low so, in the event the other players place high wagers, they will still be unable to keep up with you. You don’t want to have a $1,000 lead and then lose it all in the final hand.

Strategy for the Final Four Hands in The Early Rounds

Once you get to the 17th hand, it’s time to decide what you’re going to do with the next wager. You base this decision on the number of chips the other players are holding. If you all have roughly the same number, you should wager an amount like the others. Staying close is important. However, you need to be in the game on the last hand. If you find you’re way behind, you should wager half the stack, but save the other half in case you must split.

If you win the hand, repeat the process. But, if you lose, bet the maximum possible on the 18th hand – even up to the entire stack. If you win the 18th hand, look at the wagers of the others. Can you bet just enough so you can stay even or ahead using under half your stack? Betting the max amount is the solution if you cannot.

On the 20th hand, if you’re leading, bet an amount that keeps you one max bet ahead of the competition. This will enable you to be the winner if no one gets blackjack, or the opportunity to split or double down. If you’re not leading, however, watch the other bettors to see if you can bet any amount and win, which will enable you to enter the first position. If not, bet the max and hope for the best.

Remember, if everybody bets most or all of his or her chips, it’s possible to win if you keep some chips back and watch the others lose the 20th hand.

A Final Table Strategy

If you get to the final table, you don’t want to bust out of the round too early since, if you get first place. you’ll end up with a much bigger payout than if you’re in sixth or seventh place. Avoid large wagers straight away. Watch the bets of the other players on the first couple of hands before you plunge in. So, for example, if you begin the game with $1,000 in of chips, start with a bet of $100. If you lose that hand, then go down to $50. If the hand wins, bet another $100 or, alternatively, go up to $150. Keep on raising every time you win.

There are almost always a few players who’ll bet too big and bust out, and this will increase your cash prize money. However, if another player seems to be getting very lucky and pulling ahead, you could consider risking your chips earlier since you can win money before getting to the final hand on the final table. If another player is winning frequent hands, you’ll need to make larger wagers on the 10th hand.

10th Hand

If you’re leading, or are close to leading by this hand, keep your bets like those of the other people playing. If your lead is significant, you can coast for a bit before reassessing the situation at the 17th hand.

Hands 17 to 20

blackjack insuranceAt the 17th hand, if you’re in the lead, keep making the same level bets. If you’re close to other players, wager up to a third of the stack, but if you’re lagging, wager half.

At the 18th hand, if you’re in the lead, keep going with your bets. If it’s close, wager up to half the stack. If you’re way behind, always bet the maximum.

At the 19th hand, if you’re in the lead by more than the max wager, wager sufficient enough so you can get two wagers plus $5 ahead whenever possible. If you’re only in the lead by a little bit, watch the rest of the bettors closely. You want to get the lead by the max bet plus $5. If you’re losing, bet half the stack.

In the 20th hand, you’ll want to be in the lead, regardless of your position. Always set the bet to match. If most players are roughly the same as you and you’re capable of guaranteeing a second-place finish if you wager a certain amount, consider it. Otherwise, always bet the max.

It’s also possible every player will lose this last hand. Therefore, if that happens, ask yourself if you have sufficient chips to get to first place. If six or seven people are still playing for first or second place, with each making a maximum bet, it’s possible that a small bet with chips in reserve would be best for you. If you can’t get first, second or third place unless your dealer has an amazing hand, this is the strategy to take.

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Thomas McCoy was born in Bethesda, Maryland and studied finance at the Kogod School of Business at American University in Washington D.C. before heading to New York and a job as a forex trader on Wall Street. Successful enough to launch his own, online forex trading platform, Thomas has long had a keen interest in the places where the worlds of finance and technology meet. As a prolific blogger, Thomas considers himself an expert on cryptocurrencies, casino asset restructuring, and emerging technologies set to change the way people do business.