The International Blackjack League follows a common format called “elimination blackjack”. Players enter a field of between 12 and 250 players, depending on what sort of event you play. Players sit at a virtual table, much like you would in an online Texas hold’em tournament. Each contestant plays classic twenty-one until an elimination hand happens, at which point the low chip total leaves the table–and the tournament. Like in a poker tournament, a certain number of top spots are considered “finishing in the money”. The league keeps track of how much money you’ve won over the course of league play.
This league has a full schedule of freeroll tournaments, sit ‘n go events, and scheduled buy-ins. The league’s interface is set up to look just like the kind of online casino tournament schedules you’re used to. Players see the event name, the buy-in amount, the minimum and maximum number of players, the prize pool, and the start time. Using this information, players pick and choose events to join.
Signing up for the IBL is simple, though a few rules apply. Players cannot have multiple aliases–only one sign-in name across the Microgaming sites. Offensive usernames are not allowed. Aliases can’t be changed after creation, so pick a name you can enjoy. You don’t get to decide what’s offensive; the owners of the site do. Otherwise, pick the name you want. Personal details won’t be displayed on the live leaderboard, so this alias becomes your identity to the gambling world.
To play, click on the “Play Now” button found in the lobby of websites like 7 Sultans, Royal Vegas, Platinum Play, or Vegas Palms Casino. This should take you to the interface. Next, click on the “My Tournaments” link, which brings up a drop-down menu where you can choose your category. These categories include casino games like tournaments, unique games, video poker, table games, pokies, progressive jackpots, and other favourites.
Under “My Tournaments”, you’ll see various sub-headings. Under blackjack, the options are “scheduled” and “sit and go”. If you see these features, you’ll know you’re in the right place. Once you reach this step, you’ll be asked to confirm or register. Assuming your followed the registration tips above, click “Confirm” to enter a tournament. The last step asked you to authorize a debit from your casino account. If you’re playing in a freeroll, this last step isn’t required, of course.
Whether you play in the scheduled freezeout tournaments, freeplay tourneys, or the turbo events, certain game conventions apply. Elimination hands, sudden death rules, sit-out rules, auto-play, and the secret bet are part of events. Learn these, because each is important in whether you win or lose.
When tournaments begin, certain hand numbers are going to be defined as “elimination hands”. After this hand, somebody is bounced from the tournament. For example, if the 15th hand is an elimination hand, then somebody at your table gets eliminated from the event after that hand. Make sure you don’t have the lowest chip stack at that time and you continue playing.
If two players have the same chip stack, only one person is eliminated (see “Sudden Death” below). The only exception to this rule is if both players have zero chips. In fact, anyone who gets to zero chips is eliminated automatically, even before the eliminator hand, because that person holds no chips to get back into the betting. If two people are eliminated this way, but both finished in the money, both will be paid in full. If this pair straddles the “finished in the money” line, then sudden death rules are applies to determine who gets the money.
Sudden death is a sports term to describe a point in the game where any play ends the game, or at least someone’s game. Under sudden death rules, the player with the most chips at the start of a round of betting goes through. The other player loses, so if you’re behind in the chip stack going into an elimination hand, bet in such a way that no ties happen (which is easier said than done). If the chip stacks were the same, then the player furthest from the starting player is either eliminated or awarded the lower position of the two gamblers.
If you need to walk away from the computer during a tournament, a sit-out checkbox is available to you. When you click, the game plays out at a sub-optimal level, but continues to play for you. When you return, you can click off the checkbox and resume play.
Every round, each player is offered a secret bet. This can be at any time during the hand. No additional options are allowed, but you can choose to stand, hit, split, surrender, or double your wager. What this does is keep opponents from knowing your every move. They have to anticipate at least one. My tip is to save these for the pivotal elimination hands, so your opponents can’t know if you’re betting high or low.
Competitors who get disconnected during play go on the auto-play mode. Minimum bets are placed by the software system. The system hits until soft 12. Otherwise, it only takes 2 cards. In other words, the auto-play mode plays conservative, avoiding a bust.
The International Blackjack League from Microgaming isn’t the only such online association, though it’s the most prominent and trusted one. To sign up, go to one of the Microgaming websites listed above.