I get asked all the time what is the difference between blackjack and tournament blackjack. Simply put, Blackjack is you against the Dealer. You should be playing each hand the way that will give you the most wins over the long run. After all, you are trying to squeeze every dollar out of your playing sessions.
In tournament blackjack you are playing against the dealer and the other players at your table. There will be a set number of hands, and you are trying to be the player with the most chips by the last hand. Sometimes you will accomplish that by losing the least, other times by betting aggressively. If the other players have large bets out on a given hand, and you bet the minimum, you will root for the dealer to have a blackjack or good hand so that the other players lose.
In tournaments you will do things that you would never do playing regular blackjack, like doubling down on a hard 19. For example I was playing a tournament and after four tough rounds of competition I was playing the final round, or money round as I call it. By the last hand there were only two players left, myself and a guy from Mississippi. Going into the final hand I had the most chips, but not by much, and was going to bet and act last, which made me a heavy favorite to win it all. First place was $10,000, second place was $4,000. The other player made his bet and I matched it, which is the percentage play in that situation.
It came down to this; I would win the tournament if we both won the final hand which will happen about 30% of the time. I would also claim victory if we both lost the last hand, which happens 31% of the time, or I won while he lost which occurs 12% of the time. I could also get the win if I pushed while he lost, that happens 5% of the time. Basically I was around a 78% favorite to win it all. The cards were dealt for the last hand and for me, disaster struck, the other player was dealt a Blackjack and I received a hard 19 vs the dealer up card of a 10, only a 5% chance of that happening.
Blackjack pays double in most tournaments so if I stood on my hand I would lose the tournament. The only chance I had at this point was to double down on my hard 19, so I slid my chips out and told the dealer “Double”. A player will bust when hitting hard nineteen 85% of the time so pulling out a victory here looked bleak. But, this day the blackjack Gods were smiling on me as I was dealt a three for a perfect twenty one as the dealer turned over 20. The victory was mine, as it turned out the final hand was a $6,000 swing for the winner.
Playing tournaments doesn’t really involve that much study, it’s more about using common sense, and they are a lot of fun. You have to think every hand and bet through, kind of like playing chess. I would encourage all players regardless of skill level to give them a try.
On Thursday night/ Friday morning Casino Arizona has a tournament with a $25 entry fee and a guaranteed prize pool of at least $500. The tournament starts at 2;30 am which is past most players bed time. Well good news! Starting September 4th the start time for this tournament will be at 1am with sign-ups at 12:30, so many of you tournament players should put it back on your play list. Here is a list of tournaments you can play, until next time I hope you play winning Blackjack – T.J.
Monday – 6 pm – Mazatzal Hotel & Casino in Payson, AZ.
Tuesday – Noon, Casino Arizona in Scottsdale (101 & Mckellips)
Wednesday – 1st Wednesday of each month at 7pm – Casino Arizona
Friday – 1 am (starting Sept 4) Casino Arizona
Friday – 4pm Vee Quiva Hotel & Casino – West Valley (Laveen area)
JUST ADDED: BlueWater Resort & Casino in Parker, Arizona has added a $10,000 Blackjack Tournament on October 4th – To qualify for this event call 1-888-243-3360 and ask for tournament information.
T.J. Jorgensen has been a professional Blackjack player for decades and is known for his live tournament play. He has competed against, and beaten, some of the top tournament players in the world and has won the prestigious “World Series of Blackjack”. To contact TJ Jorgensen for questions or information on his books, send an e-mail to; firstname.lastname@example.org