When encountering the proposition of choosing between poker and blackjack, there are no absolutes. Neither game is inherently better than the other. It all depends on what the player is looking for. Maybe it’s a matter of personality. Some people, including our terrific customers at BetAnySports, are more adventurous than others. Those people would probably go with poker, because of the long list of variables that go into each playing situation. Those people who want a little more in the way of stability in their playing decisions might choose blackjack, for reasons we’ll discuss momentarily. People who are gregarious might prefer poker because it moves a little slower and afford them the opportunity to chat with other players. And that is a condition that might exist online or in a physical casino. If you’re the quiet type, maybe blackjack is for you, however, this rationale might very well work in reverse.
Here are some things we can say with conviction:
Do you want a straighter path from Point A to Point B in becoming a good player? If so, then you may want to go with blackjack. Since you’re aiming at something that, as I mentioned in Part 1, is more of a stationary target, you can learn a strategy that can cut away at the house edge. A card counter playing perfectly, or close to it, can achieve a long-run edge, although admittedly that doesn’t work out as well online. Of course, how good you become depends on how much and how well you practice. In that way, it’s kind of like anything else.
In poker, the path from Point A to Point B is filled with twists and turns. The time it takes to become a good player varies a great deal. For some, it may take a lifetime. And there is no such thing as having an “edge” in the game.
Important – the time you have to put in
In his landmark book, Million Dollar Blackjack, author/player Ken Uston wrote, when discussing learning a multi-level card count for blackjack:
“The time necessary to thoroughly learn a multi-level count is equivalent to the time needed to become only an average chess, bridge or backgammon player.”
The same could probably be said for poker, because it’s a lifetime pursuit. And it involves competing against others. The poker player’s advantage is directly related to his ability in comparison to that of his opponents. Poker is a little like golf, in the respect that you never really “conquer” the game. But blackjack is a game that could conceivably be conquered, if you count. And at casinos online, you can play Basic Strategy and get close to even.
So if you’re the personality type who needs to conquer something, blackjack may be more to your liking. But maybe you don’t mind spending a lifetime perfecting a craft and still coming up short sometimes. In that case, poker could wind up being a good fit for you.
Do you like to improvise?
If you don’t mind rigidity, blackjack is a game that might attract you. That’s because whether you’re a Basic Strategy player or a card counter, a period of contemplation does not exist. You’re not going to be sitting there saying to yourself, “Well, I can go this way and this may happen, or go that way and that may happen.” There is only one way to play a hand in any given situation. Furthermore, you should be following money management rules properly or using the “Kelly Criterion” (betting in proportion to your advantage). In doing that, you’re going to be betting a pre-determined amount, according to what the strategy dictates.
In poker, flexibility is not only advisable, it’s downright necessary. There are a lot of ways to play each situation. One way may work one time and fail another time. But the player needs to leave himself open to each and every one of these options. That’s because with each action by every other player, the whole set of circumstances can change. Such a thing will cause the player to fly by the seat of his pants more often than not. It’s a more unstable “ride.” But if you like stuff like that, you’ll get your thrills from poker.
One thing’s for sure – if you’re looking for a world of certainty, you may not want to choose EITHER game.
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