It is common for online blackjack players to also have a fondness for other card games like poker. What you might not know is that successful poker and blackjack players share many skills. You can actually improve your blackjack game by using some of the same techniques which work in online poker.
Two Card Games With One Goal
First and foremost it is important to understand that poker and blackjack are both gambling games. The goal of those who play them is to win money. That should be your goal, at least. No one with a brain would bet on blackjack or poker with the intention of losing their money. This commonality opens up the door to examining all the ways in which poker and blackjack relate, and to the strategies they share.
Granted, there are some significant differences to the game. Poker involves playing against other players who have the same goal of winning money. In this case, your money. Blackjack involves playing against the casino who is also out to take your money. The big difference is that other players are prone to human error. The casino is not. Year after year they retain the same edge in blackjack and do not vary their play. You could say that the casino is on autopilot when it comes to making profits from blackjack.
Still, because both games involve winning money they share some things. Most of these things are more psychological in nature and relate to the mentality of the player.
Discipline in Poker and Blackjack
Regardless of which of these games you prefer, discipline is a must. If you have no discipline in the way you play then you will find it very hard to succeed. How that discipline is applied is a little bit different in each game.
In poker discipline is required to manage starting hands, bet sizes, and bluffs. The winning poker player has to know which hands to play and which hands to fold. He or she must know which size bet is likely to induce other players to fold or call. Bluffing too much can be a fast road to going broke, so discipline is also required in this regard.
Blackjack discipline is mostly reserved for money management. A card counter needs to know when the odds are more in their favor and resist the temptation to make big bets until that time comes. They must also know when to quit a session in order to preserve a profit and minimize a loss.
The lack of discipline at a card game has been the downfall of many players. When one loses discipline the game becomes a mere gamble. Ask any professional player of either game and they will tell you that the games are never a gamble to them. They are exercises of skill and discipline.
Making Decisions in Poker and Blackjack
Both games call upon the player to make decisions. Thankfully, in blackjack the decisions are usually more straightforward. You must decide when to hit, stand, split, or double. In poker the biggest decisions involve whether to call, raise, or fold. Some pro poker players like Doyle Brunson will tell you that calling should not be an acceptable decision. If the hand is good enough to play it’s good enough to raise.
As a recent article in Card Player magazine pointed out, decision making contributes to a lot of pressure. Learning how to manage pressure is something every poker player becomes good at. Those who don’t become good at it do not last long in poker. The common ground here is that both poker and blackjack players must be cool under pressure. In poker there is a term for losing one’s cool. It’s called going “on tilt.” If you tilt in blackjack the results can be disastrous. You will bet more than you should and make poor decisions.
Odds in Blackjack and Poker
Entire books have been written about the mathematics of poker and blackjack. Edward O. Thorp published Beat the Dealer and forever changed the way people play blackjack. Thorp was the first to suggest that card counting could reduce the house advantage in blackjack. This book inspired many to begin playing blackjack as a business instead of as a hobby.
Poker professionals also depend upon math probabilities to determine when they should make calls or raise pots. Practicing these probabilities in live play will also help in maintaining a running count when playing blackjack.
Being In The Game for The Long Haul
A final shared characteristic of both blackjack and poker is that success in both games requires longterm dedication. Both games involve variance. Ups and downs are common. It is important that players of both realize profitability comes as result of consistency over time.
It can be tough to maintain a positive outlook and make the correct plays time and time again when a player is on a losing streak. But doing this is the only clear way to win at either game. Sometimes losing streaks can seem endless, but proper strategy always overcomes these streaks in the end.
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