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How To Win EVEN MORE Blackjack Tournaments - Volume II
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by Kenneth R Smith


Tournament expert Ken Smith has appeared on all four seasons of GSN's World Series of Blackjack, and had several appearances on the Ultimate Blackjack Tour on CBS. He is the author of the e-book. How to Win More Blackjack Tournaments: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies to Supercharge Your Game. Ken hosts the popular website as well as the online tournament community at  You can subscribe to his free email newsletter at Ken also recently released his new pocket blackjack strategy cards, which are available in our BJI store.


Click here for part one of this article series.

Last month I introduced an unusual tournament format in an effort to focus on one aspect of tournament play to the exclusion of all others. The "One Decision Tournament" is a tournament round where players must choose a single bet amount for the entire round. They must flat-bet that amount, and they must play normal basic strategy for every hand. With these draconian restrictions in place, we can run some simulations to assess the relative value of various bet sizes.

The particulars of the format:

  • Rounds are 10 hands each, with betting in $5 increments from $5 to $500.
  • Starting bankroll is $500.
  • Six decks, S17, double after split allowed, split up to 4 hands except Aces, which can be split only once and get one card on each. No surrender is allowed.
  • If a player has less than his designated bet size left (but more than the table minimum), he must bet his entire bank subject to the $5 increment rule.
  • If a player has too little left to double or split in full, he will play the hand without doubling or splitting.
  • Ties will be broken with sudden death, playing rounds until we have a winner. If players tie with less than the table minimum left, they will be advanced $500 each for the tiebreaker.

I wrote custom simulation software to analyze this situation, and ran lengthy simulations of millions of tournaments to test the scenarios. While I had some firm ideas about what the results would be, I did unearth a few surprises.

My research questions from the introductory article were split up into several groups, so I will address them group-by-group.

Group A:

  1. What should the first player choose as a bet size, without knowing what his opponents will choose behind him?
  2. Assume the six players chose $5, $50, $100, $200, $300, and $500 as their respective bet sizes. Who has the best chance of winning the round?
  3. Assume the first five players all chose $100 as their bet size. What should the final player choose as his bet size to have the best chance?
  4. Assume that the first five players all chose to bet the minimum $5. Now what should player 6 choose?

It makes sense to actually start with question 2 here, since...

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