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The gambling industry has dozens of popular games that have dominated online and offline casinos for decades. However, among them, two of the most popular in the world, other than slots, are two card games — blackjack and poker.
To the untrained eye, these might look like two very similar games, but if you try to learn them and play them, it will not take long to realize that these two games are actually quite different in several very important aspects. If you wish to start playing them or discover which one is a better suit for you and your specific style of playing, you will need to understand these differences.
This is important because each of the two games requires something different from the player. For example, winning at blackjack mostly requires that you have enough discipline to stay true to your strategy. Poker, on the other hand, requires significant skill, psychology, deception, and the ability to adapt to major changes in the game.
However, poker can also be very rewarding — even more than blackjack, provided that you have the skill required to win at the poker table. We will talk about this in detail, as well as a number of other differences between these two games, so if you wish to start playing them, keep reading and learn all you need to know to decide which one is a better fit for you.
Differences between poker and blackjack
1) Following the strategy vs Bending the rules
Obviously, both blackjack and poker require you to use one of many tested strategies in order to win the games. Strategies do not guarantee victory, since this is gambling, after all, and that means that luck is a necessary element, and if you don’t have it, strategy alone will not be enough to help you win.
However, strategy can boost your odds of winning, since it means that you have a plan and that you know what you are doing, Poker players have several different strategies at their disposal, while blackjack is actually significantly stricter. There is one, universally-accepted method that offers you the best chance of winning money, and players generally stick to it.
This is not the case with 100% of the players, of course, but the large majority tend to stick to the rules as they offer the best chance of them winning the game, and very few are willing to risk victory and money in order to experiment and get creative.
On the other hand, the situation is completely different with poker, which rewards creativity, while blackjack punishes it. As a result, poker players tend to change strategy, prepare different scenarios, and often improvise to navigate any individual game, while most blackjack games are fairly predictable.
Poker is flexible, with multiple effective playstyles that can bring profits to the player. The approach depends on the player and their personality, the conditions of the game, and above all – the player’s skill. Of course, luck is always required too, but if we remove it from the equation, all of these other elements need to be included in the player’s calculations when deciding their best approach.
And even then, that approach can change and evolve mid-game, as things continue to develop. You might say that being creative, versatile, imaginative, deceptive, and adaptable is the necessity, and the most important part of the game, while strategies and the rules are there to help guide the game and keep the players within certain limits.
This difference between the two games comes from the fact that in blackjack, the player plays against the dealer, who represents the house. When it comes to poker, on the other hand, the player plates against other players.
2) The odds
When it comes to the odds, this is something that is very different between the two games. If you play blackjack, and you are not experienced, the house will have an edge of around 4%. This is quite a lot, and for every $100 you bet, you are expected to lose $4 to the house. However, if you stick to a solid strategy, you can reduce that percentage to 0.5%. That way, you lose half a dollar for every $100 that you bet, which is a lot more acceptable.
Things are completely different in poker. This is, of course, a game of probability, where you need to build the best hand possible in order to win. On one hand, the odds of getting any specific card, or hand, are set in stone. On the other, your odds of winning are a lot more flexible, and once again, we go back to the importance of your skill.
This, of course, is not the case with video poker. You cannot bluff a machine. You can, however, bluff other gamblers if you are skilled enough to trick them. Naturally, you first need luck to get the cards you need, but if you are skilled enough, you will be able to read others while giving away the signals that are completely under your control, which will be used to trick other players and have them do what you want them to do.
In the end, you cannot make a profit from blackjack without reducing the house edge as much as possible. Your winnings at poker, on the other hand, are depending entirely on your skill.
3) Skill and competitiveness
Blackjack and poker are two very different games in other aspects, as well, especially when it comes to skill and competitiveness. Blackjack, for example, doesn’t require that much skill, as we have already established. You need to learn a few good strategies, stick to them, and you are pretty much set.
This also allows for blackjack tables to be placed randomly all over casinos. On the other hand, poker is more intense, as well as more intimate game. The people are your main adversaries at this game, rather than the house, and so it matters very much who sits at your table, whether or not you know them, how well you can read them, and alike.
Players require focus, as well as confirmation that no one is feeding their competitors information about their cards, which is why poker games are often held in separate poker rooms within casinos. Furthermore, competitiveness in poker is really something that should not be underestimated, as a lot of professional players go to great lengths in order to win, and it is nothing unusual for them to get a bit testy every now and then.
That doesn’t mean that blackjack is not competitive, of course, but it is a different kind of competitiveness. At the blackjack tables, players aim to beat the house, which puts them on the same side, as they have a common “enemy.” In poker, players are pit against one another in a card-based battle royale.
4) Interactions with other players
Another big difference is that blackjack players can choose how much or how little they are going to interact with others at their table. They can ignore other players completely, or enter a conversation, since their opponent is the house.
On the other hand, poker is a lot more social game, where players have to interact, but all of their interactions tend to be under control. Those who lack social skills, the ability to read people, or the ability to know themselves and the signals they give off when playing, do not usually end up being very successful. After all, there is a reason why the term “poker face” exists, and why it means that someone is difficult to read.
Another thing to note about poker players is that they thrive when facing adversity. Most experienced players have learned how to adapt, switch strategies, bluff, read their opponents, learn when to go all in, when to fold, and the more difficult the situation, the more they are pushed, and the better they become because of that experience.
Blackjack players do not have a lot of such situations to deal with. Dealers have a specific set of rules that they must follow, and since they are playing by the book, blackjack players always know what they can expect and what is going on. There is no deception, no massive bluffs, just the rules, the cards, and their own strategy.
5) The matter of luck
No matter which game in the casino you play, including blackjack and poker, one of the most important aspects of the games is luck. A lot of people think that things like investing are gambling, but that is not true. With investments, you have sound analysis, predictions, knowledge of the markets, and alike.
With real gambling, you can never know how the dice will roll, or which card will be the next one to come out of the deck. It is truly random, and you can’t analyze it — the best you can do is come up with the probability, but not a definitive answer to anything. This is why skill and strategy are important, but luck matters just as much.
Poker and blackjack are very similar, and yet completely different games. Blackjack is a lot more relaxed and less intense game, and by playing it with a sound strategy, you can win some money with relative ease.
To learn more about blackjack visit our How to Play Blackjack guide or visit one of our recommended guides to finding the best blackjack casinos:
- Blackjack in Australia
- Blackjack in Canada
- Blackjack in India
- Blackjack in New Zealand
- Blackjack in South Africa
- Blackjack in UK
- Blackjack in USA
As for whether it is more profitable than poker or not – that depends on your poker-related skills, with many of them needed to be successful at the game. Luck and strategies are necessary, but so is knowing how to apply those strategies, how to change them, how to read subtle signals that other gamblers are sending, and how to control yourself to not send signals that may tip them off. And of course, deceiving them is a big part of the game too, so the better you are at mastering these things, the more you stand to earn, but it is definitely not something that anyone can do.
Lloyd is passionate about online gambling, he lives and breathes blackjack and other table games, and he enjoys sports betting.
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