The Best 2020 Blackjack Tournaments
Blackjack is probably the world’s most popular strategic casino game. Many players enjoy hunkering down at the casino and passing an hour or five slowly chipping away at their stacks.
But for other players, it’s not enough. Winning substantial prizes in blackjack is difficult and requires a long run of good fortune. How can you win a really big payout while still enjoying a long run at the table?
Blackjack tournaments. These pits you against both fellow players and the dealer, in a more dynamic version of the game with higher stakes. Everyone buys in, but only one person takes home the big cash prize.
On this page, you’ll find descriptions of the best tournaments, advice for winning, and where to find the best tournaments. It’s a quick, concise guide to everything you need to know about blackjack tournaments.
What are the blackjack tournaments?
Before we launch into the most popular types of blackjack tournaments, let’s look at them in a more general sense. The actual gameplay rules are identical to regular casino blackjack: bet, deal, act, then win or bust. That’s all against the dealer.
However, all players start with an identical bankroll. The winner of the tournament is whoever has the most chips, compared to the rest of the table, after a fixed number of rounds. Your main goal is stack management – not just trying to win as many hands as possible. If others are losing huge stakes then you can bet small and maintain your advantage. They might even bankrupt themselves and be cut from the tournament.
Crucially in blackjack tournaments, the first bettor sets the tone: whatever they bet, the subsequent players will need to match or exceed. It adds an electric dynamic you don’t see in typical casino play. If there are multiple tables, the ‘winner’ of each table progresses through to the next round. Eventually, one table remains and the biggest stack at the end is declared the winner.
The different types of blackjack tournament
Elimination tournaments are by far the most popular, exciting, and lucrative events to play in. The basic model is the same as we’ve just described: over time, tables are whittled down based on chip stacks. However, depending on the event, there can be some game-changing differences.
In the popular Ultimate Blackjack Tour, elimination rounds featured on the 8th, 16th, and 25th hands for each table. After each of these, the player with the smallest stack was immediately cut. There can also be secret bets where players conceal their bet amount and even their intention to surrender, stand, or double down. Used late in the round, secret bets introduce a poker-like element of bluffing.
Players can sometimes re-buy back into the tournament.
Sit ‘n Go
Sit ‘n Go tournaments begin as soon as a minimum number of players join the table. These are usually small-scale (~6 players) and fast-paced, with the winner usually taking home all prize money.
Freerolls are awesome tournaments because they are free to enter. While the prize money isn’t astounding (usually just a handful of dollars pot for thousands of players) they’re great for players who can’t afford bigger tournaments or who simply want to practice their game.
These are often daily events within larger casinos, offered to existing players to encourage participation. You’ll need a lot of patience to win, but then it is free cash if you succeed!
RNG Leaderboard Tournaments
Where in most tournaments you’re seated with your fellow players, in RNG leaderboard tournaments you play alone. Climb the leaderboard by winning hands: the more you win and the higher the value of each hand, the higher you’ll place.
The tournament runs for a specified time period. In the end, the top 1 to 10 players often receive a prize.
Satellite tournaments don’t typically offer any cash prize. However, victory does grant the winner a seat at a much bigger (perhaps national) event where the entry would usually be huge – and the prize money is also generous. These can be online or in-person.
Live Dealer Tournaments
Live dealer tournaments are ostensibly the same as the RNG ones we’ve just described. You’re still playing against the dealer and your tablemates, but this time with a real-life dealer in a proper casino-like environment.
There are both major and minor land-based blackjack tournaments. The biggest of these can last several days with thousands of players across several hundred tables. There are entry fees and fixed bankrolls per player and eliminations are gradual as we’ve described previously. You’ll find the biggest-money tournaments are all at land-based casinos or halls.
Our blackjack tournament recommendations
While a variety of online casinos offer blackjack tournaments, our standout favourite is 32Red. These guys have been hosting top-tier events for years and the finest blackjack tournament experience is reserved for their players. There’s a selection of daily events that all players can enter.
32Red is most famous for its ‘Survivor’ series of elimination blackjack tournaments. These run right through the day, with prize pools ranging from $42 to over $300 each. Only the top 3 are paid, so you’ll need your A-game to land in the money.
Bet365 has run blackjack tournaments worth up to $1,000 for the winner, while Betsafe is also known to splash the cash for its players. Visit each casino’s site to see when the next tournaments will kick-off and what you could win!
How to win at blackjack tournaments
Your biggest asset at blackjack tournaments is remembering that you’re playing against the table, not just the dealer. Pay close attention to what’s going on: if the other players are betting high stakes but have lost several in a row, then drop your bet value to the minimum. Play safe, and see if they can get back in contention. If not, you’re more likely to advance to the next round.
Same thing if they’re playing cautiously: you could play big. Even a couple of successive wins would put a lot of pressure on them to win. You should also think about the position: betting last (in elimination hands especially) gives you a huge advantage over betting first.
As long as you keep your head up and chase the right wins, at the right time, you’ll give yourself every chance.
Where to find the best blackjack tournaments
For a real high-roller looking for the biggest prizes, we recommend looking for land-based tournaments in popular casinos. There are touring and national events with prizes in the tens of thousands of dollars and they take place all year, all over the country.
In the online space, there are thousands of casinos that run blackjack tournaments. You can look for those with the best welcome bonuses, highest stakes, or even target newly-established casinos where the depth of experience might be lower!
Wherever you end up playing, just remember to play smart and think about what your competitors are doing – the rest will take care of itself. Good luck!