Casino games tournaments are fun, and they can be profitable too. In upcoming articles, we will be publishing a series of excerpts from Stanford Wong’s book, Casino Tournament Strategy.
The articles will explain how to win a casino tournament with less luck than the average person requires. Tournaments differ from regular casino games like blackjack, in that the contestants compete against each other for the prize money. Whether you win or lose in your bets against the casino does not matter much; what counts is whether you win more (or lose less) than the people you are competing against.
Getting an edge in a casino games tournament means correct money management — betting the right amounts at the right times.
You do not have to have an edge in the game to have an edge in the tournament. Your edge in a tournament comes from being a better tournament player than your opponents.
For prize money you are competing against the other players rather than against the casino. For example, you do not have an edge over the casino in a crap game, but you can get a big edge over the other entrants in a crap tournament. Your edge occurs because most of your opponents have come to play craps and not to play a tournament; they do not use good tournament strategy.
Proper tournament strategy gives you a bigger edge in tournaments in which all contestants bet on the same random outcomes. In a crap tournament, for example, you have a big edge because all contestants bet on the same rolls of the dice. You have a big edge in a baccarat tournament because all contestants bet on the same cards. Likewise you have a big edge in keno tournaments. You can get an edge in blackjack tournaments, but not as big an edge because each blackjack player gets his or her own cards. This leads to considerable variability, over which you have no control, between the outcomes of your hand and your opponents’ hands. If you happen to find a blackjack tournament in which you play the same cards as your opponent, you can get the same big edge that you enjoy in a crap or baccarat tournament.
The book covers getting an edge at tournaments in blackjack, craps, baccarat, keno, and horses. Getting an edge in pai gow poker tournaments is a chapter in Optimal Strategy for Pai Gow Poker.
You can get an edge at slot tournaments too, if you have fast fingers. Particularly good are slot tournaments in which you play for a set period of time with your score being the number of credits you rack up, and no cost being assigned for the number of times you push the button to win those credits. In those tournaments, the way to get an edge is to play fast. The faster you can play, the bigger your edge. Play in other than the first session of the tournament so you can watch the early birds and learn how to get the most plays in the allotted time. The machine will not make a mistake, so there is no reason to verify your payoff before playing the next hand. If your neighbor gets a big winner, do not slow down; keep your fingers moving.
Poker tournaments are won by poker skill. Tournament skill has little to do with who wins a poker tournament. A good introduction to poker tournament play, nolimit hold’em in particular, is Kill Phil by Blair Rodman and Lee Nelson.
Another good source of information on tournaments is www.blackjackinfo.com.
This article is the first of a series, to be continued…
Excerpted with permission from Casino Tournament Strategy by Stanford Wong.
For information about online tournaments, please visit https://lcb.org/tournaments
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