Blackjack has always been a popular casino game, not the least because it has a reputation as being the one game where a skilled player can beat the House. In the last few years there has been a huge resurgence in the public's interest in Poker, and with that has come a growing interest in other classic table games – like Blackjack.
Casinos have been quick to embrace this interest by applying Poker's tournament style to Blackjack, with great success. There are now several major internationally televised Blackjack tournaments, including the World Series of Blackjack and Ultimate Blackjack Tour.
The rise of online gambling means that it's now easier than ever for ordinary people to find and compete in Blackjack tournaments.
In a traditional game of Blackjack, the number of people sitting in at a table was largely irrelevant, because it the game comes down to a battle between the player and the dealer. The hands of other players don't matter.
In online Blackjack tournaments, the other players’ hands become of paramount importance. The object of the game is no longer simply to beat the dealer; you now have to focus on winning more money than anyone else, or face elimination. In a typical tournament there will be 3 to 6 rounds of elimination and in some cases a preceding qualifying round.
You will be required to buy in to the game, and some casinos allow you to play with cash chips, taking home whatever you have left when you're eliminated. This is not the norm, however: most often the chips you play with in a Blackjack tournament don't have a monetary value, they simply have a number value that indicates how far ahead you are.
You play the game normally, but the object is now to win more money than any of your fellow players, as typically only the top two earners from each table will advance to the next round – the rest are eliminated. You will have a limited amount of time to do this – unlike Poker, Blackjack tournaments are usually played on a fixed number of hands.
The other major difference between standard and tournament Blackjack is the addition of a dealer button. This is placed in front of one player, and moves to the next with each successive hand, thus ensuring fairness of position.
The tournament eventually comes down to a single table of six players, and it is not uncommon for a casino to pay out prizes to the top six positions.
Generally speaking you need to adjust your strategy; tournament Blackjack is faster and less forgiving than a normal game because of the focus on bankroll size. Therefore, it's generally a good idea to bet big and go for broke, because there really isn't any sense to playing conservatively when the object is big wins.
For this very reason, it is worth making massive bets when you're dropping behind, because you need to catch up fast if you're going to be in the top two from your table.
The only time it's ok to play with caution is if you're so far ahead of your opponents that they have no hope of catching up.