Elimination Blackjack

by Henry Tamburin

Elimination blackjack is an exciting format for blackjack tournaments.
Why another format with Elimination Blackjack for tournaments?
Even though traditional blackjack tournaments have been popular for quite some time, the few that were televised was simply too boring for viewers. The reason is that the best strategy in traditional blackjack tournaments is to bet conservatively for the majority of the hands in a round and then make your move over the course of the final five hands. This is a good playing strategy but boring for viewers.  It was decided to make these tournaments more exciting for viewers with Elimination Blackjack.

In elimination blackjack tournaments, players are staked with a $25,000 playing bankroll.
Each table has 6-7 players and the minimum bet is $1,000 and the maximum bet is $25,000. A maximum of 30 hands are played and the top one or two players with the most chips at the end of the round advance to the next round to play other table winners.
The big change is the elimination hands, which are hands number 8, 16, and 25. The player with the lowest chip count on each of these designated elimination hands is eliminated from the game. It doesn’t matter how many chips you’ve won; if you are low man, you are out.
To add the element of bluffing, each player is given one secret-bet and action card that can be used at any time during the round. When a player wants to conceal how much he wants to bet on his hand, the player can write the amount of his bet on a card which is placed in the betting spot and not revealed to other players until after all the players and the dealer complete their hands.
Players are only given one opportunity to make a secret bet in a round so they have to pick the best time to use it (late in the round is best). If a player decides to make a secret bet, he can also conceal whether he intends to surrender, stand or the amount of his double down wager. These twists allow players to often bluff their opponents into thinking they are going to bet big when they bet small, or vice versa.
The change that was made is to reveal the dealer’s hole card to viewers. Viewers know what the dealer has, but  players do not.

One other twist introduced to elimination blackjack tournaments is all the double down cards are dealt faced down and not revealed until after all the players have completed playing their hands.
If a player who acts before you decides to double down on a 12 you don’t know whether or not he busted because the double down card is not revealed. This makes for some very interesting play.
The rest of the playing rules are standard: 6-decks of cards are used, dealer must hit soft 17, players can double on any two cards, doubling-down is allowed after pair splitting, and you can split pairs up to three times (except aces – you can’t resplit them).
Also the rules allow players to surrender their hands, which is another element which makes for some exciting play. And like traditional tournaments, the betting order rotates from one hand to the next.

The skills you need to master to be successful in these elimination blackjack tournaments are: 
    1) Keeping track of the chip count of other players. You won’t know how much to bet if you don’t know the bankrolls of your opponents.
    2) Knowing when it’s best to go for the high (betting enough so that if everyone wins, you have the highest chip count), or to go for the low (keeping the most unbet chips so that if everyone loses, you have the most chips).
    3) Knowing when to correlate (bet the same as your opponents bet), when to increase your bet, when to bet the opposite of your opponents, or to simply bet the minimum.
    4) Being able to mentally determine the outcome of a player’s bet (i.e., what his bankroll would be if he won, lost, or pushed his hand).
   5)  Knowing how to lock out an opponent so no matter what the outcome of the hand, you will advance.
    6) Knowing the importance of betting position (betting first in an elimination hand, or final hand, puts you at a distinct disadvantage compared to betting last).
    7) Knowing when and how to deviate from the basic playing strategy.
    8) How and when to use the secret bet and action card.
    9) The use of surrender as part of your overall playing strategy.
    10) How to be more aggressive in your betting if you are first to an elimination hand.

Elimination Blackjack is followed by Standing on 17-21
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BJ Options 
Split.  When a player’s first two cards are of equal point value, he may separate them into two hands with each card being the first card of a new hand.
To split, the player must make another wager of equal value to the initial wager for the second hand.  In cases where another identical point valued card is dealt following the split, re-splitting may be allowed. (Re-splitting aces is often an exception.) 
When allowed, players may also double down after splitting. 

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