To win in blackjack tournaments, you want to play aggressively and competitively.
In tournament blackjack, having just a little knowledge about tournament strategy can dramatically improve your chances of success. Knowing correct basic strategy is important to your tournament success, but you may be surprised to learn that it's actually not that big a factor on most of your hands. If you're limiting risk by betting small on most hands, then mistakes on those hands won't amount to much. However, playing your big bets incorrectly can be a costly mistake, so solid basic strategy rounds out our trifecta of tournament concepts. That's "Risk and Reward, Similar Outcomes, and Basic Strategy."
Like most types of informed gambling, effective tournament strategy is all about Risk Management. To win a table, you'll usually have to risk much of your bankroll at some point. The key to long-term success is to make sure that you get full value for every big bet you make. If there's one thought process that's important in every single decision you make at the tournament table, this is it. Weigh the risk and reward of your choices. If you constantly think in those terms, you can assess the value of different strategies according to your current situation at the table.
Risk management starts with bet sizing. Smaller bets reduce, or even eliminate, your risk of ruin at the tournament table. Once you run out of chips during a tournament round, you're done. You can't buy more chips for a second chance. That means that you should choose your battles wisely.
Choosing your battles means not placing a large bet unless you have a reason.
Players who habitually bet medium-size amounts on most hands are severely handicapping their chance of success. Those bets individually can't accomplish much, yet the cumulative effect on risk of ruin is considerable.
While those players sometimes succeeded, they busted out a lot more frequently.
A player who instead preserved his initial bankroll until the final ten hands or so was a big favorite in these events. Although catching those successful big bettors in the end was difficult, it was also not unusual to win a table by default when the dealer was hot and wiped out everyone before the round had even finished.
So, three things to consider in tournament play: #1 Have a Basic Strategy. #2 Use Risk Management strategy. #3 Know there are Similar Outcomes.
In tournament play, there are two kinds of approaches… conservative & aggressive. The old school approach of conservative betting may be a good play for some. Some believe betting small in the beginning is a sure fire way of maintaining your chip pile and getting to the final rounds. Others believe the only way to succeed is to bet big in these tournaments and accumulate a stockpile of chips, making it hard for your opponents to catch up. Although the latter works, the player often busts and is eliminated early. Many strategists say the conservative approach is the best way to be successful early on.
As the conservative approach has become more commonly used, it has made play at the tables all the more strategic. As more players are betting conservatively, it’s important to mix both strategies.
Choosing to bet big at the right times is as pertinent as knowing when to bet small. It’s usually a good practice to wait until the button has passed your spot to determine a large bet option because you can see the bets of all your competitors before you decide your bet size. This enables you to bet just enough to take the lead while not risking any extra chip amounts. To put it simply, you’ve brought more value to the chips you have risked.
Remember, similar outcomes as a rule. If the dealer pays out the entire table and you take the lead then you’ve probably made a good and measured bet. On the converse, if you’re the leader and making minimum bets then you are just giving your opponents the opportunity to pass you. It’s a better practice to try and margin yourself by making similar bets as your opponents to stay in the lead, if there, even though you risk getting poor cards. It is still a good strategy and may mean you have to make a medium sized wager, but this will keep your opponents at arms length.
Again, one must always choose his battles when faced with the decision of a large bet. If you are down from the leader by a total maximum bet, this may be a good time to consider a large bet in order to take the lead. Remember, risk versus reward. You also have to consider how many hands are left in the round because this may be your last opportunity for taking the lead. Be sure and make a measured bet so you don’t risk unnecessary chips. But at some point you may need to take the lead in this one hand. If it means risking your entire bank roll, then be prepared to make that decision.
To conclude, remember to enter the game with some basic strategy in mind. As each hand is played, the betting situation is altered. Know your strategies for betting conservatively, and be prepared to bet aggressively. Having the understanding that similar outcomes are consistent, you’ll recognize also that risk management is imperative to your long-term success.
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