Let’s begin with a straightforward observation: while both poker and blackjack involve a mix of luck and skill, and both have their devotees, they’re two very different games. In terms of popularity, blackjack wins, but that’s not necessarily the metric you should use if you’re wondering about what game suits you the best.
In this short guide, we’ll walk you through the considerations that you would do well to weigh up before choosing your game.
The first distinct difference to note is that in poker, you’re not playing against the house but against other players, while in blackjack, you’re playing against the house. How does this affect the odds?
The odds in poker and blackjack
As mentioned in the opening sentence, both games involve an element of luck, but arguably, it’s significantly higher in blackjack than in poker. In blackjack, the luck of the draw plays a stronger part than in poker: you’re playing against the house in blackjack and (surprise, surprise) the game is designed for the house to win should a regular player play long enough. That said, blackjack usually has the lowest house edge for casino card games.
The luck in poker is less about the hand you’re dealt – skilled players can work miracles with underwhelming hands – and more about your fellow card players: if you’re surrounded by weak players, your prospects of winning increase. However, the reverse is also true – if you’re surrounded by seasoned veterans, your fortunes diminish. The odds, on balance, are more in your favorin poker than they would be if you were playing against the house, as in blackjack.
Strategy: poker vs blackjack
There’s a broader range of hard-to-acquire skills in poker than in blackjack, though both games require a thorough knowledge of the basic rules. In poker, a good tip for beginners is to master these rules and then practice with variations – how will different hands affect your strategy?
Learn about some of the more advanced poker skills, such as playing ‘tight-aggressive’, ‘loose-aggressive’ and ‘loose-passive’ – all three have their place and gaining proficiency in them will increase your odds of winning, whether it’s at one of the best NJ online casinos, such as Resorts Casino, or a brick-and-mortar venue.
Just because luck plays a stronger role in blackjack doesn’t mean that skill isn’t required. You need to develop an intuitive sense of when to act and in which way: do you double down on an 11, or split the 8s, or stick on 16? Two books can help enormously: The Basic Blackjack Strategy (compiled by a team of statisticians who have calculated how to play optimally with any given hand) and Beat the Dealer. Card counting is also another formidable skill – but watch out. While it’s not illegal, most casinos frown upon it and may ask you to leave if they suspect you of it!
Learn the skills, hone the strategies, and decide which of these two much-loved games suits your talents and temperament the best.