Blackjack is considered a game of skill compared to most other casino games, and making money in blackjack tournaments is certainly a skill that can be mastered.
The method employed below can be used by even a novice and have a realistic shot at winning top 10 money in various online blackjack tournaments. These tournaments can be found practically 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so learning how to score well can mean a nice casino bankroll.
Beatable Blackjack Tournaments
We are looking for low buyin tournaments with cheap rebuys and nice prize pools of $500 or more. You can work this strategy in a blackjack freeroll with rebuys, but the more players you have, the more luck is a factor. Furthermore, freeroll tournaments tend to have smaller prize pools. More people fighting over a smaller pile of chips? You do the math. Again, our sweet spot is a small buy in that allows for multiple rebuys and a nice prize pool. This way we are not fighting hordes of freerollers over a small prize.
A great place to try this method out is at Miami Club Casino. It is a USA friendly site with a weekly $500 blackjack tournament. Buy-in is usually $2 or $2.50 and rebuys are the same. You start with $100 in tournament chips.
Coin Flip Magic
When someone plays perfect blackjack, it reduces the house edge so low that it is almost like flipping coins to see who the winner is on each hand. With this in mind, we are going to coin flip our way to a great leaderboard position.
If you were flipping a coin and hoping for heads, how many flips would it take, on average, to see heads? You only have two results in a coin flip; heads or tails. Therefore, over the long haul, you are going to see heads about half the time, and average 2 flips of the coin.
Step One – Bet Your Whole Chip
At Miami Club, we start with a $100 chip, so we bet it all on one hand. We use a good blackjack chart to tell us whether or not to hit or stand so that we are playing almost dead even coin flip strategy. (See the chart below). If we are lucky, we will double up to $200 with our first buy in.
Unlucky? Rebuy and bet it all again.
If you employ this strategy over time, you will find that it will average costing you 1 buy in + 1 rebuy to double your $100 starting chip to $200. If you are playing a $2.50 tournament with identical rebuys, then you can estimate that it will cost you around $5 to double up.
Step Two – Bet it All Again
You have successfully doubled up to $200, and if you were lucky, on the first try. Now we bet it all again, using that perfect blackjack strategy so that our odds are roughly a coin flip.
To put this in coin flip terminology, we are hoping to get “heads” twice in a row. The probability of getting heads is .5 so the chance of getting heads twice in a row is .5 * .5 = .25 (or as a fraction, 1/4). Just like you will average getting heads once for every two flips, you will average getting heads twice in a row once every four tries. Let’s do the money math.
1 buy-in + 3 rebuys = $10, on average to get to a $400 balance.
You may get lucky and hit it on the first try and have a $400 balance and just be in for $2.50. You may spend $10 and be looking at goose eggs. However, on average it will cost you $10 in buy ins and rebuys (4 tries) to get your balance from $100 to $400 by betting it all twice, trying to win consecutive “coin flips”.
Check The Leaderboard!
A $400 balance will usually put you within striking distance of the top 10 in many tournaments since most players will make small bets and watch their balances slowly flutter away as the ever so slight house edge takes its toll. As a smart tourney player, you are not nearly as effected by that house edge because you are betting your whole balance just a few times and shooting for consecutive double ups.
Plan Your Next Move
If you have moved into the top 10 or at least ‘in the money’, you need to decide what your goal is for this tournament. Do you want to take a shot at the big win, or be satisfied with a smaller prize? A lot depends on how much you have invested. If you got your two double ups with just your first buy in, you might want to ride that hot streak and go for the top spot.
The maximum bet on a blackjack hand at Miami Club is $200, so once you have a $400 balance you can either continue making $200 bets or slow down a little. Just know that the smaller your bets, the more you are going to have to wager and the more of a bite the house edge is going to take out of you.
I generally bet $200 again and try to hit a $600 balance. This usually gets me easily in the top 10 and knocking on the door of the top 5. I might slow it down a little from there, depending on how many times I had to rebuy to get there.
What is the Prize Structure?
Most tournaments like this are very heavily weighted towards the top 5 or 10, with a whole bunch of people squeaking into the money for a $5 payoff or so. The coin flip strategy will usually get you into the cheap prizes for a minimal investment, but if you plan to play blackjack tournaments for profit you can’t be afraid to take a shot at the top of the leaderboard.
The two most important things to remember when playing blackjack tournaments are:
1. Make Big Bets! The larger and fewer your wagers, the less of a factor the house edge will be in your long term tournament results.
2. Know When to Hit or Stand! You absolutely must be using a good blackjack chart unless you are already a blackjack whiz card counter who does not need a cheat sheet. The chart below is a good one for basic blackjack strategy.