This article applies to blackjack tournaments in which you are competing only with the other players at your table, whether the tournament is in a land-based casino, such as in Las Vegas, or an online casino tournament.
BR* means any bankroll position that advances to the next round, and BRN means the minimum bankroll position that advances to the next round. For example, if the top three winners per table advance to the next round, then BRN means BR3, and BR* means BR1, BR2, or BR3.
Here is a winning tournament strategy: Bet the max on the last hand. Don’t laugh; that is a powerful strategy.
This article discusses attaining a bankroll position such that winning a max bet on the last hand is sufficient to make you BR*. The best way to do it is by being BR* going into the last hand or busting out trying. The reason is: BR*’s probability of winning the table is greater than it should be for the number of chips BR* has, and everyone else’s chances are less than they should be.
For example, suppose only one person will advance in the tournament out of three players with bankrolls of 500, 600, and 800. If the game would continue indefinitely, the three players would have probabilities of winning proportional to their bankrolls, i.e. 5/19, 6/19, and 8/19. With just one hand to go, however, the probabilities are .1, .2, and .7. BR2 and BR3 are not getting full value for their chips. Their chances of winning the table would have been better had they bet more aggressively earlier, either taking over the BR1 spot or busting out.
Betting order also is important. If on the final hand you will be betting last and playing last, you will have a good chance to advance if you are not BRN but are close.
Here are the four money-management strategies to be used at various times. The rest of this article explains exactly when to use each strategy.
Bet a proportion of your bankroll equal to or slightly less than your edge over the dealer. (Since the variance of outcomes for one blackjack hand is around 1.2, you actually should bet only about 80% of your edge.) If you are not counting cards, this means betting the minimum. If you are counting cards, you will find that seldom will your edge get high enough to justify betting more than the minimum.
Whatever your opponents are betting, you bet. If they all bet around 100, bet 100.
Whatever your opponents are betting, bet the opposite. If they bet small, bet big. If they bet big, bet small.
This is one of very few situations in gambling that a progression has any usefulness. To give yourself as many chances of hitting your target as possible, use a progression. This means betting either 1/7, 1/3, or all of your bankroll. If you bet 1/7 and lose, then bet 1/3. If you lose a bet of 1/3 of your bankroll, then bet the remainder of your bankroll. All you have to do is win one bet to hit your target. (Theoretically you could bet 1/15 also, but as a practical matter you probably will never have an opportunity to bet that fraction.) If you cannot bet that precise amount, round down. When betting a progression, do not double, do not split, and do not buy insurance.
The reason for these precise fractions is that if you lose, you can bet the next-higher fraction, which amounts to approximately doubling your bet. All you have to do is win one bet to bring your bankroll up to where you want it to be.
This article is part of a series, to be continued…