ACCUMULATION BLACKJACK TOURNAMENTS:
DAMN THE TORPEDOES
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 www.BlackjackInfo.com as well as the online tournament community at www.BlackjackTournaments.com. You can subscribe to his free email newsletter at http://www.blackjackinfo.com/news/. Ken also recently released his new pocket blackjack strategy cards, which are available in our BJI store.
Opponents whoíve seen me play in a few blackjack tournaments are sometimes shocked when I display a completely different tactic. They come in expecting my typical ultra-conservative minimum bets at the start of the round, only to see me risk everything on the very first hand. Itís true, I sometimes play this way. And as a result, my round is sometimes over in the first hand or two. If that seems especially brutal, given that Iíve often traveled across country to attend the event, I can tell you that it is. It's tough to fly a thousand miles to play one hand of blackjack, but I've done it before and Iíll do it again.
So what's the deal? Why would I risk my entire tournament existence on the very first hand? The key is that Iím playing a different format. Most blackjack tournaments use an "elimination" format, where you compete only against the other players at your table. At the end of the round, the players with the top one or two chip totals from the table advance to compete in the next round. Although these events are commonly called elimination tournaments, this seems like a poor choice of terminology. After all, players are eliminated in other formats as well. Perhaps "table format" would be a better name (Iím told that this style was generally referred to as "table-advance" a couple of decades ago), but I'm not here to quibble about naming conventions, so we'll stick with the standard names.
The other common style of tournament structure is an "accumulation" format (changed over the years from "total cash-out)", where your goal is to accumulate more chips than the entire field of players. In other words, you aren't competing against only the players at your table. Instead, your chip total is compared against the chip totals of everyone in the event. This means that it generally takes much higher scores to be successful in the accumulation style. In many cases, you need to win multiple max bets to be competitive. Let's look at a specific example, so we can evaluate various ways of approaching this kind of game.
Imagine an event where 150 players are competing in an accumulation-format round to determine six finalists. The format is 25 hands played from a starting bankroll of $1,000, with betting limits of $5 to $1,000. A 6-deck shoe is dealt.
The first task is to determine an appropriate target bankroll...
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This article is now included in a new BJI e-book publication called, "How to Win EVEN MORE Blackjack Tournaments - Volume II" by Kenneth R. Smith. It it available exclusively in the e-book...
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