Blackjack Tournament No-Nos: Over Betting

While there is a certain amount of luck involved in tournament play, it is not the sole deciding factor in a blackjack tournament. Blackjack tournaments are won on skill, and lost because of poor playing. One such poor way of playing is to over bet when you are in the lead by a good chunk.

What is a good chunk of a lead in a blackjack tournament? Well, let’s say you are playing in a good sized tournament where the excitement is going to be high and the pressure is on. It is in this kind of situation that blackjack tournament mistakes are made. So in this good sized tournament you have $15,000 at the beginning of the final hand and you are in the lead. Everyone else is at $5,000. Naturally they are feeling that all-or-none feeling and are going all in, wagering $5,000. In the excitement you too wager $5,000. Your fear is that if one of them wins you will lose your place as leader and therefore lose the tournament.

Your fear is ill-founded. A player that wagers $5,000, even if they are dealt a natural blackjack is only going to wind up with $7,500. And while losing $5,000 is only going to drop you down to $10,000 and you will still win, wagering $5,000 was unnecessary. All you will win is $5,000 less.

At this point you have such a strong lead with $15,000 that you can get away with wagering the minimum. You are going to win the tournament no matter who wins the round. All you can do at this point is control how much you win—do you win $15,000 or $10,000? Over betting in this situation will impact how much you get to take home as the tournament winner.

Now if the lead you have is still a good-sized lead but is closer to the next player in line, you definitely do not want to over bet. Over betting at that point could cost you the tournament. Say your lead was only $10,000 and you bet $5,000. Losing at this point will cost you everything.

The point of the matter is that you do not want to put your lead at risk in a blackjack tournament. Take a moment to think about how much you have and how much you closest opponents have. Then figure how much money you should be wagering in that final round of a blackjack tournament.

Why Blackjack Side Bets are Bad

Blackjack variations provide a breath of air to when compared to playing standard blackjack. I cannot say that they provide a breath of fresh air considering what they do to a player’s blackjack odds, but the difference in the games does indeed provide for a change of pace.

Majority of the time when a player seeks out a blackjack variation it is because the standard game of blackjack has gotten a bit stale to them—same thing happening just about every round. Variations have catching names like Perfect Pairs to pull in these bored blackjack players. Players think that these variations of blackjack are different from the regular game.

The truth is that they really are not that different. They can be broken down into two parts: the base game and the side bet.

The base game is the same as any standard game of blackjack. Players can hit, stand, double down or split pairs. Granted these plays might be limited somewhat. Perfect Pairs, for example, will only allow players to double down once and split only the first two cards. No additional doubling down or splitting of pairs. Otherwise it is played the same as a game of standard blackjack.

Then there is the side bet. Side bets are usually where the name of a blackjack variation comes from. And it is also the main difference that allows the variation to be a variation.

A side bet is a wager separate from the regular playing wager. For example, you might wager $10 on the round of blackjack and $5 on the side bet. Two separate wagers. And both can have two separate outcomes meaning it is possible to lose one and win the other.

In the case of Perfect Pairs, players are placing a side wager on whether their first two cards are a pair. At the beginning of the round the player makes his round wager and his pair wager. If his first two cards are a pair, he wins the side bet. But he can still lose his regular wager in the actual game.

Because of the increased opportunity for the house to win money from the player, the player’s blackjack odds drop and the house’s edge increases. Standard blackjack before any strategy is around 2-5% depending on the house rules. However a game like Perfect Pairs starts at 4.10%.

Rather than putting more of your bankroll at risk it is better to take a break from playing if you find blackjack getting a bit dull. A blackjack break is a breath of fresh air is better than pretend air that is only stealing your money in a sneaky way.

Tip or Not to Tip—When and How to Tip Your Blackjack Dealer

You would tip for good service at a restaurant right? Yes, you would. Or you should. They are providing you with the service of bringing you food and drink and making sure you have a clean steak knife. When they’re nice you tend to give them more of a tip, yes? And when they’re first rate jerks to you, you leave them next to nothing right? I’ll own up to it. I remember years ago in high school, a group of friends and I went to a Steak n’ Shake after bowling. The waitress never brought us enough glasses of water, we had to share, and she forgot to bring us our food when it came up. So pooled together our change and left it in the bottom of a water glass. Bad service deserves a bad tip. But good service deserves a good tip. And the same applies for blackjack dealers.

Just like how you tip for good service, you should be tipping for good dealer service. But why should you? It’s not like they’re bringing you steak and the best baked potato of your life. They are serving you your cards after all. And if you’ve asked for their advice or for help that defiantly counts as a service. If your dealer has been pleasant and helpful go ahead and tip them. But how do you do so?

There are a couple of ways in which you can tip a good blackjack dealer. The first is the easiest and is most often seen when a player is ready to leave the table. He or she will place a chip on the table, and tell the dealer, “That is for you.”

The other way is to make a bet for the dealer. And this way is actually more fun than just handing out a chip or two. This gives the dealer a stake in the game and will cause them to root for you. Do not think that by making a bet on their behalf will cause them to throw the game or cheat—that is not what tipping is for.

But there are a couple of ways even to place a bet for the dealer. If you place the tip bet outside of the betting area the dealer has control of the dealer—meaning that if you win the dealer will pay himself. That’s like a waitress taking her tip out of your change before handing your change back to you.

The other way to make tip bet, and by far the more suave way to do so, is to place the tip bet inside the betting area. In this way, if you win, the dealer will pay you and then you can hand over a tip to the dealer. If you made a tip bet by the first method, say with a $5 tip bet, and you won, the dealer would pay themselves $10. If you make a tip bet the second way, you give the dealer a $5 chip. It’s up to you but you can leave the other $5 chip in the betting space to make a second tip bet. In this way you appear to be a more consistent tipper. Also, as far as the casino is concerned, you are betting $5 more since the tip is inside your betting area rather than inside. It’s kind of like making a second bet and paying leaving the outcome won for the dealer—kind of like combining the very first method of tipping with making a bet for the dealer.

Only tip what you are comfortable with. And only tip for good service. Tipping a disgruntled blackjack dealer would be like me and my high school friends giving that Steak n’ Shake waitress a decent tip for her complete lack of service.