Blackjack vs Poker – Choose the Best Card Game for You

Florin P. - January 1, 2022

Find out which are the core differences between blackjack and poker, so you can make an educated decision when choosing the best card game for you.

Blackjack and poker are the most popular card games and the preferred form of entertainment at online and land-based casinos. Cherished for their competitive nature, high return to players, and the fact that they reward experience and practice, these games are here to stay. In the paragraphs below we take a closer look at the differences and similarities between blackjack and poker. Keep reading to find out which is the best card game for you and how to maximize your winnings when playing either of them.

Math is all you Need When Playing Blackjack

A thorough understanding of percentages and odds is needed to be successful when playing either blackjack or poker. At the end of the day, luck will even out and those who rely on math rather than intuition will prevail in the long run. However, math is all you need at a blackjack table whereas, in poker, you also need other skills to outshine your peers.

The reason blackjack is a math-driven game is that it follows a very strict set of rules. The dealer is given virtually no freedom and simply needs to act based on these rules that differ slightly from one blackjack version to the other. Players enjoy more flexibility, as they decide how many cards they draw when to stop and when to use special mechanics such as double down, split pairs, or insurance.

Because dealers can’t surprise players and are bound to strict rules, players can stick to the standard strategy. There are plenty of blackjack charts online that state precisely how players should act based on the dealers’ cards and their own. Every single scenario is covered by these charts, so even if you play blackjack for the first time you can use optimal strategy and boost your odds of winning.

Expected Value is King at Poker Tables

Just like blackjack, poker is a game that rewards players who use mathematics and base their actions based on percentages. Luck can influence individual odds and even entire gambling sessions, but in the long run, the better players always win. That’s why punters need to understand the strength of starting hands and the odds of improving their hands on each street, based on the community cards.

Unlike blackjack, you can’t rely blindly on any charts or strategy because each session and potentially each hand is different. Since you play against other people who enjoy unlimited freedom in calibrating their actions, you also need to adjust your tactics. The position plays an important role, but there are also some of the elements such as your table image and the size of the stack in front of you.

Perhaps the most important difference is the fact that the amounts up for grabs differ greatly on each hand. That’s why there are many instances in poker when it makes sense to call, bet or raise a hand even if you have low chances to improve your cards. The expected value you can extract from each play must be factored in, to lose the smallest amount when you are defeated and win the most when you prevail.

Play against the House or Fellow Players

One of the main differences between these two card games is that blackjack is played against the house while poker pits players against each other. When you compete against the casino, the odds will always be stacked against you. Even blackjack which has some of the best odds of all casino games will still have a maximum return to player of roughly 99%. This means that in the long run, no matter how well you play, you are likely to end up losing unless you are really lucky.

Poker on the other hand is played between punters and the gambling operator will make a profit by raking hands. A small percentage of each pot is claimed by the poker room and punters will pay a tiny fee when registering for Sit ’n Goes or tournaments. As a result, players start with the same chance to win and the determining factor is a skill. The better players have a good chance to make a profit in the long-term, while easily offsetting the rake or entry fees.

Not Everyone is Good at Poker

When considering blackjack and poker you need to accept the fact that you have a better chance of being successful at blackjack. Since you can rely exclusively on luck and use the charts describing optimal strategy, you don’t need to have any special skills. You can simply play the numbers and hope that you will get lucky, to offset the small house edge. The only real challenge is to find casinos that offer blackjack varieties with the highest return to players to maximize the odds of winning.

Poker on the other hand is a very complex game and it requires certain qualities that are in short supply. For starters, you need to be in total control of your emotions and make the right decision every single time. To be successful in poker, you can’t expect to have better cards all the time. Instead, successful poker players are the ones who are capable of outsmarting and outplaying their peers. They must be able to tinker with projections of strength and weakness to achieve the desired results.

Social skills are irrelevant at blackjack tables, as you don’t need to interact with fellow players. It is very easy to develop a sense of camaraderie because everyone competes against the house. When each player hopes to see the dealer go bust, they are driven by the same feelings and celebrate the same result. Poker players make their profits by defeating their peers, so they need to probe for weaknesses all the time while hiding their flaws. The ability to read opponents and pick up on tells is invaluable.

Enjoy Poker and Blackjack with Moderation

Blackjack and poker are exciting games to play and potentially profitable ones when played correctly. They can be fun to play for free but the real money experience is always better. Remember to keep the stakes sensible and bet sum that won’t affect you financially. Exercise proper bankroll management and always gamble responsibly, to enjoy the games and stay safe.

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