theoriemeister
theoriemeister
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July 18th, 2018 at 2:57:09 PM permalink
A local, smallish casino (eastern WA) is having a BJ tournament. The buy-in is $25 and it pays the top 6 finishers. (6th place gets $100 and the winner receives $1k.)

I've never played a BJ tournament, and at such a low buy-in I thought it'd be a good experience. I have S. Wong's book on tournament play and was reading through it (again) in order to get some sense on how to play tournament BJ. (I know that betting strategy is more important than basic strategy.) The first thing Wong says is: learn the tournament rules. And herein lies the problem: the casino webpage says nothing about the tournament, and for 2 days I've been trying to contact the marketing department--to no avail, no one has answered the phone or returned my phone message.

I can't imagine that there will be tons of people participating (probably less than 50). I have no idea what the criteria is for advancing to the next round (a threshold level of chips? Top 50% of players from the first round?), and it's seeming more and more likely that I won't know the rules until I show up!

So my question to the forum is: if you have played a low-level BJ tournament at a small casino, what are the likely rules? More importantly, how should I approach my betting strategy? Should I bet aggressively in order to have as large a bankroll as possible at the end of the first round? Any other tips for a newbie tourney player?

p.s. I've played at this casino once before, so I'm pretty sure this will be a shoe-dealt game, which means I'll do my best to count.
ars longa vita brevis
onenickelmiracle
onenickelmiracle
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July 18th, 2018 at 3:36:58 PM permalink
Where I experienced a tourney, you got more chips for buying in early, only one person per table advanced and the max initial bet was $1000, obvious rule, must keep chips publicly viewed, cannot string bet(must slide entire bet in as a stack).

Further, you could try to not be at the first table playing so you can observe others.
Last edited by: onenickelmiracle on Jul 18, 2018
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FinsRule
FinsRule
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July 18th, 2018 at 7:22:44 PM permalink
This is how the Ameristar tournament used to go.

6 tables. 3 rounds. 3 first rounds.

Top 2 from each first round made it to the 2nd round. If not enough bought in, they’d draw names in to make the semis.

Then only the winner of the 2nd round table would make finals.

500 in chips was starting amount. Chips did not carry over. Usually doubling up was enough to make semis. That’s why people would sometimes bet all 500 (max bet was 500 too) on the first hand.

I think there were 21 hands in a round.

I wouldn’t bother counting. You need to be concentrating on bet size strategy.

Most people play pretty conservative in the beginning, then it gets crazy at the end. It might not be a bad idea to pick a hand in the middle when everyone is betting low, and bet your whole stack. Really depends on the rules though.
AZDuffman
AZDuffman
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July 19th, 2018 at 4:32:52 AM permalink
Quote: theoriemeister



So my question to the forum is: if you have played a low-level BJ tournament at a small casino, what are the likely rules? More importantly, how should I approach my betting strategy? Should I bet aggressively in order to have as large a bankroll as possible at the end of the first round? Any other tips for a newbie tourney player?



I deal these at the party nights all the time. I cannot comment on their rules, but I can tell you what works. What works at my table is people who make middle-ish bets for most of the tourney, then go big at the end. And you have to veer off BS from time to time.

Most people are going to play as they play normal BJ. Flat bets playing BS. They will never win. Ever. Well, they win when other people bust out. You have to play a but like on "Jeopardy!" Keep building until near the end. Then push-push-push the last few hands. Near the end the leaders will naturally be playing prevent-defense. Try to slingshot past.

Play BS but not totally. Split 10s vs 4-5-6. Double a soft 19 vs same. Like a poker tourney, you have to play more aggressive than usual as you are fighting the clock.

Let more winnings ride. Again, the chips are worthless except as tourney markers. You have to throw out your usual money management.

Find out if they rig the rules by adding say 5 card charlie and 2-1 BJ. It takes little to flip to a player advantage. If so, get more aggressive.

The guys who win at my tables (sorry, ladies, it is always the guys) play like goofs. They know the game, but look crazy. I can't say how many times they get aggressive and it works, then they pull back a bit. It drives the BS players and conservative women nuts, but it works.
All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others
theoriemeister
theoriemeister
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July 19th, 2018 at 9:29:41 AM permalink
Thanks for the tips so far!
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FCBLComish
FCBLComish
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July 19th, 2018 at 2:20:50 PM permalink
The 2-1 payout on BJ is usually so the casino does not have to break down chips.

Some tournaments will have X number of top scores in round 1 advance, others will have X people from each table. Make sure you know which is which. If it is total top scores, try to play in the last possible opening round, and watch the previous rounds to see approximately.what number you have to beat to qualify.

If it is by table, it does not matter what round you play, but you still may want to watch the first round to get some idea of what the other players tend to do.

I agree with being more aggressive than normal. You have a limited number of hands to make your money. It is important to take advantage when you can.

If there is a maximum bet limit, and you find yourself on the last hand with more than that to overcome, you may have to double on any hard hand just to get the chips in action. Try to avoid this position if possible. If the top 2 players advance, play for 2nd place.

Good Luck!
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theoriemeister
theoriemeister
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July 21st, 2018 at 1:40:00 PM permalink
Okay, folks, here's the update. I appreciate all the comments.

Bjs paid 2:1, no surrender, no insurance, and you had to ask for even money, as the dealer wouldn't offer it. Min bet was $25/max was $500. Each player received $1000.

I played in the 2nd round (18 players per round). (I think there were maybe 4 rounds total.) 25 hands per round. Only the top chip player at each table advanced. I watched a couple of tables in the first round to see how other players played. Boy, were there some crazy plays in the last 5 hands, as the low-end players tried to play catch-up: doubling hard 17 +18, doubling soft 20, splitting 10s galore, doubling 6s and 7s (regardless of what the dealer was showing). Even though I had never played in a tournament, even I knew that if you were way down in the chip count, you needed to put out the maximum every hand just to have chance--and people weren't doing that.

I'm proud to say that at my table after hand 20 I was the chip leader (but by only $100). Then came my only real betting error: the guy in the #2 spot bet $500 and I only bet $300. We both won (dealer bust), but he went past me by $100. So it came down to the final hand--and unfortunately I had to bet first. I bet $500 and he bet the minimum. So, if I win the hand, I win the table. (In retrospect I didn't need to bet $500, only $200 to pass him, but I'm sure he would have matched my bet. So perhaps betting $500 scared him a little. Anyway, I was dealt a 20 and chip leader received a 17, against a dealer 6. Lookin' good so far. Dealer flips over an ace (groan) and then receives a 3. Chip leader loses the hand, but I push, and thus lose the table on the last hand. He beats me by $100 or so and moves on to the next round.

A couple of other observations: many players played very aggressively at first, betting $100 a hand. But most of them busted out by the middle of the shoe. The ones that played safely (flat betting the minimum), played farther into the shoe, but often were too far behind to catch the leader. Second, a lot of people knew each other from other tournaments. I suppose that's typical. Third, the casino didn't prohibit players from talking to observers, or to the other players. The guy on my left (3rd base) talked constantly. I was glad when he busted out.

So, all in all it was great fun and I'd do it again! And for a first time out, I thought I did okay.
ars longa vita brevis
FCBLComish
FCBLComish
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July 21st, 2018 at 8:44:08 PM permalink
Sounds like you did well. Position is very important, especially in the last few hands. I believe you were correct to bet the max, as he was to bet the minimum. If you bet last that time, you would have moved on.

One note, if BJ pays 2-1, it is NEVER correct to take even money, EXCEPT if you need that amount to win at the end. Blackjack strategy and odds become less and less important in the last few hands as money management becomes more important.

If you watch a lot of JEOPARDY on TV, and watch the wagers at the end, you will not be far off of tournament strategy.

I once ran a tournament where each player had one SECRET BET that they could use at any time. That would have helped you in that last hand as your opponent would have lost his advantage. I am surprised I do not see that more often. Players really liked it.
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