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Blackjack and poker are both card games:

If you know how to gamble with cards then you might be thinking about whether to play poker or Blackjack (both are card games). In this article, the differences and similarities between poker and Blackjack are highlighted and you decide which game is best for you.

What is the house edge:

This is the measure of the mathematical advantage that the casino has over the player. It is an estimate of how much the casino expects to win over the long run from each bet. For instance, if a game has a house edge of five percent, this means that the casino can win an average of five dollars each time a player bets a hundred dollars for that game.

What is check raise:

To check and then raise a bet by some other player in the same (betting) round. This is sometimes forbidden by house rules.

What is Dealer tells:

They are expressions and gestures, a Blackjack dealer makes without knowing it. And if you happen to learn and spot the dealer tells, you can always increase your edge in Blackjack.

If you want to be a poker player, then have an edge over the other players:

In Blackjack, the house edge varies from 0.3 to 1 percent. These are the lowest figures in the house. In poker, you are playing against the players and not against the house. If all the players (including you) are at the same skill level, no one has an edge. And you will all break even in the long run. If you are playing poker in a casino, then the casino takes five percent. The casino takes five percent from each pot before delivering it to the winner. And hence, poker has a high house edge of 5 percent. And if you want to be a poker player, then have an edge over the other players.  

Both Poker and Blackjack offer advantage play: 

What is advantage play?:

It means that by using an appropriate strategy in the game, a player can get a mathematical edge. 

  • In Blackjack, there are many options for getting an edge. They are card counting, shuffle tracking and dealer tells. 
  • In Poker, you can get an edge by being a better player than your opponents. 

By memorizing basic strategy, you get to the starting point of getting an edge in Blackjack. That is the right way (mathematically) to play every hand in every case. And in Poker, the strategy is your (starting) hand requirements. And poker offers you more flexibility. Many sites offer guidelines about how to play starting hands in poker, however, based on how your opponents play those guidelines vary.  

Blackjack does not reward psychology or creativity: 

Yes, Blackjack does not reward psychology or creativity. The dealer plays her hand in a particular way. This does not vary based on her evaluation of what kind of player you are or on her mood. However, poker deals with players who have many tendencies. Sometimes it is appropriate to check-raise, with pocket aces say in a Texas Holden game, and in other cases that is the worst plays that you can make. In Blackjack, you can spot dealer tells. Much depends on whether the Blackjack dealer is interested in the outcome or not. Many times they don’t care. However, in poker, the players are interested in the outcomes. This is because they have their own money in the line. All this means to say is that you can bluff someone in poker and not in Blackjack. So the bottom line is that you cannot do anything creative in Blackjack.  

Being great at Blackjack is not as legit as being great at poker: 

The casino does not care if you sit at a poker table and make your best moves repeatedly. They are taking the amount (five percent) out of each pot irrespective of whether you are winning or not. However, when you are at a Blackjack table you are contesting with the casino for its money. And if you are caught counting cards they will take countermeasures. And if you do not heed their warning then they can ask you to leave. It is perfectly alright to count cards in Blackjack in my opinion. However, the casinos have a different opinion.  

Final thoughts:

Both Blackjack and poker offer some distinct features which cater to different players. It is a question of which game suits your personality. Answer the question for yourselves – do you want to make a living from gambling? It is better to make a living playing poker than Blackjack. And mind that casinos are unfriendly to the advantage players. Also, decide for yourself if 

  • You are keen on outwitting other players or 
  • You are interested in a mathematical endeavour

A seasoned Blackjack player must memorize the basic strategy, and makes his gaming decisions (without deviating from them).

Whereas a good poker player can observe his opponents and take advantage of their mistakes. Hence take your time and consider your preferences and goals before deciding what to play.