If you’re one of those poker players who avoids all the other games going on around you in a casino or on your favourite online sites because ‘the house has an edge’, then perhaps you need to update your knowledge and thinking – because blackjack tournaments are a thing, and very popular too, pitting you against other players in the same way as poker.
The traditional view of blackjack as you against the dealer - and fellow players be damned - requires a fresh approach, with MTT’s, Sit’n’Go’s’, Knockout formats, Re-buys and a host of other formats which any poker player will instantly recognise available in the 21 game too – both live and online.
Familiar phrases such as ‘in the money’, ‘position’ and ‘playing a tight strategy’ all come into play too, making any transition from poker to blackjack tournaments that much easier on the outside, and if you add in basic strategy you’re pretty much set to go, but there are some details you might want to be aware of…
What not to do!
As always there are a few rules you really don’t want to break, and it’s worth checking which set of rules are in play in a particular competition, Canadian online casinos maybe varying from US or European ones, or from others in the same region even.
So, don’t string bet! As with poker, string betting is a big no-no – and although online play wouldn’t allow it anyway, think back to your first poker tournament and you’ll probably recall yourself or someone else getting in trouble for this beginner’s error.
One player, one hand is another golden rule – so don’t go discussing things with your near neighbour or fellow online player. ‘Collusion’ is severely frowned upon and can cost you your winnings, or career!
What to do!
Start out in tournaments which suit your bankroll and skill level. It sounds obvious, but you’ll also have heard many tales of players in poker jumping into PLO at relatively big stakes just because they’ve seen how much fun it can be. Fine, but also an easy way to chuck your money away in double-quick time if you don’t know what you’re doing!
For blackjack, that means sticking to the small stakes mini-tournaments which proliferate online, daily or multiple times per day, in order to get a feel for how blackjack tournaments work. Outplay your opponents in the first round and you advance to the next one is how elimination events usually work. Build up your knowledge before trying higher stakes and trickier events.
If you’re already beyond beginner level at blackjack, accumulation and/or live-money tournaments will likely be an appealing next step.
Rather than tournament chips and low-in-chip players busting out at a set number of hands, for example, these formats allow you to play with real money instead of an ‘entry fee’, the non-elimination events seeing a chip leaderboard, similar to poker, and you’re chasing the top player– a set number of hands denoting the finishing line.
One thing you’ll need to learn in most formats, unless you’re playing online, is how count your opponents’ chip stacks at a glance – again, although there is a dealer, you’re not playing against them; in fact, often you’ll be depending on them to bust your opponents!
So, that’s it for starters, and as with every game the deeper you go the more money you stand to win, but the more you’ll need to learn to beat the opposition. Luck is a factor, but skill in blackjack plays a hugely-underestimated role, and in tournaments against fellow players it is often the difference between winning and losing.