When we think of blackjack, we think of a game that involves high levels of strategy with minimal competition. A traditional game of 21, no matter how many participants are seated around the felt, pits the player versus the dealer only. Online blackjack tournaments are in a whole different ballpark.
When competing in online blackjack tournaments, players are still facing off with the dealer on a hand-by-hand basis, but just beating the dealer won’t win you any cash at the end of the day. In order to win, players aren’t just required to beat the dealer often enough to keep their chip stack rising. They must do so in a better manner than their opponents.
Realistically speaking, a player could win every single hand of an online blackjack tournament, and still get eliminated long before reaching the money bubble. How is this possible, you ask? If a player is not placing high enough wagers, opponents who make larger bets on winning hands could easily out-chip a player with a higher win rate.
Elimination Format of Online Blackjack Tournaments
Let’s say a tournament calls for 1-hour elimination rounds, where half of the field is purged per hour. Maybe there are 80 players in the mix at the start. When the first hour is up, the 40 players with the highest chip stacks will move on, while the other 40 with the lowest chip stacks are knocked out. The same process is applied after the second hour, knocking the field down to 20, then 10, then 5. The last 5 players might compete throughout the final hour for placement.
This is just one example of a structure format for online blackjack tournaments. The length of rounds and percentage of field eliminated could vary greatly. But it should give you an idea of how players compete against one another.
Essentially, it’s every player’s job to perform well enough to stay in the ‘above average’ chip range, or face elimination.
Altered Strategy for Online Blackjack Tournaments
Not only are players forced to compete against the entire field, online blackjack tournaments change the strategic dynamics of the game as well. A player may find themselves in a position where doubling down in a less-than-advantageous position becomes the proper move in online blackjack tournaments, or vice versa.
Unlike traditional blackjack games, players must look at the long-term effects of every decision they make. In the early stages of a round, a standard strategy may work well, but as the final stages of a round approach, it’s important to know where you stand on the leaderboard and adjust your strategy accordingly.
If a player holds a well-above average chip stack, they should tighten up and take less risks. That means placing moderate to low sized bets and avoiding double down or split situations unless it drastically improves the player’s chance of outscoring the dealer.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, players who are at risk of elimination will have to increase their bet sizes, and take advantage of any ascetically viable opportunity to double/split. For all intents and purposes, when facing imminent elimination, a player must throw caution to the wind and grasp the wings of Lady Luck in hopes of pulling in enough chips to survive to the next round.
A player who is near the median chip stack has the hardest job of all because they must carefully balance their gameplay. With so many low-stack competitors risking it all for their tournament lives, a few lucky double-ups from the bottom of the barrel can quickly turn into an elimination for overly-reserved competitors.
Online Blackjack Tournaments are Not for Everyone
Not every blackjack fan will perform well – or even find entertaining – competing in online blackjack tournaments. If you want to give it a shot, look for low-cost events that won’t hurt your bankroll.
Review the structure in its entirety. Make sure each entrant is given a set amount of chips to begin with, rather than being forced to use their own money to compete, which can greatly increase the expense of participating. If it’s not your cup of tea, you’ve lost little in trying, but if it turns out you have what it takes to succeed in online blackjack tournaments, more power to you.