Is Poker a Better Game than Blackjack?
Poker and blackjack are the two most popular card games in the world with millions of card players around the globe enjoying them on a daily basis.
Although the only thing poker and blackjack have in common is placing bets and using the same deck of cards, there’s nothing we can do to compare them in terms of gameplay.
Yet, poker and blackjack are often placed side-by-side and compared in terms of odds, strategy, and more. Card players usually want to know which game would bring them money. Although it’s possible to determine the house edge for blackjack, things get a bit complicated when it comes to poker.
Nevertheless, I want to give you my opinion about these two games, and ultimately tell you which card game I think is better. I’ll try to approach both games as objectively as possible and cover every single similarity and difference between them. Ultimately, I’ll try to point out some of the pros and cons of both games.
Here’s a quick overview of what to expect in this article:
Let’s compare poker and blackjack. Read on!
What It Takes to Be a Good Poker Player
If you ask any poker player out there whether poker is a game of chance or a game of skill, the majority will side with the latter. Poker players believe that the more one learns about the game and practices playing poker, the better they will become.
While this is mostly true, I cannot completely deny the fact that there’s the element of luck in poker. It’s true that the more your play, the better you will be, but sometimes it is just not going to be your day.
The definition of a good poker player means being able to assess every hand and determine the best-case scenario for you. Sometimes, it’s best to fold immediately, and sometimes bluffing your way out is the way to go. One thing is certain — poker skills go beyond calculating the odds and turning everything into numbers.
The best poker players out there are capable of reading faces of their opponents and knowing exactly what they think. If they’re facing fish, they’ll know their cards just by taking a glance at them, which truly is a great skill.
Even if you’re playing online poker where it’s impossible to read other players’ faces, you can always read between the lines drawn by their actions and try to determine what type of players you’re facing.
Therefore, a good poker player is not only good with maths but is also a great psychologist who can see through the barriers and see what other players are like.
But what makes poker players good when it comes to the game itself? Here are a couple of things:
- Knowing which opening cards to play and which to fold
- Understanding good starting hands
- Calculating pot odds
- Not being afraid to fold
- Knowing when to bluff and against whom
- Showing aggression when needed.
Let’s now focus on blackjack instead.
What It Takes to Be a Good Blackjack PlayerUnlike poker, where players play against each other, the game of blackjack is somewhat different and requires a distinct approach to the game.
I talked about the aspect of psychology in poker and the ability to read between the lines — this is something that is simply not present in blackjack.
Although this card game is considered one of the best casino poker games in terms of the house edge, it’s still a game of chance. In other words, both blackjack and poker players would agree that it’s luck that decides your fate in blackjack, no matter how good you are.
But luck can be manipulated with skill up to a certain extent. There are some legal and some rather questionable methods to do it. A good blackjack player focuses on the legal ones, but many of them do know other methods as well.
Many great blackjack players worked on the strategy, creating the so-called blackjack strategy charts that every player needs to know if they want to keep the house edge to a minimum. Basically, these charts tell you what is statistically the best thing to do for every hand combination.
Once you learn the charts by heart, all you need to do is play as many blackjack sessions as possible in order to make the most out of them. Experienced blackjack players understand that it’s a mechanical skill to learn, meaning that once it becomes your routine, you will start using the strategy without making a lot of effort.
The other important skill for blackjack is card counting. Although it is not recognised as illegal de jure, casinos consider it illegal de facto. Therefore, card counters can be asked to leave a casino if dealers or pit managers notice that they are engaging in this activity.
I’m not going to lie — the best blackjack players probably do know how to count cards, but they probably don’t use it. If they are labeled as card counters, they will be able to find their names on many casinos’ blacklists.
I don’t advise learning this technique, as I believe blackjack can be pretty exciting without it as well.
Let’s take a short overview of what makes a good blackjack player:
- Assessing the hand quickly
- Knowing the strategy charts by heart
- Knowing how to count cards (risky!).
Can You Earn More Money in Poker or in Blackjack?This is a fairly difficult question to ask, so please take into account that what I’m going to offer here is a subjective point of view.
As you can see, blackjack is routine. Once you learn all the tricks necessary to master this game, there’s no other level to it. On the other hand, poker is a live game, and you’ll meet all kinds of players out there, meaning there’s always room to learn new things and become a better player.
However, what you have to understand is that poker is not a game that you can find only in casinos. It’s a game that goes well beyond gambling houses, as there are thousands of tournaments taking place worldwide that attract hundreds of players from all over the world.
It’s exactly these tournaments — both live and online ones — that offer us a chance to earn big money.
That said, there are also people who live pretty good just by playing blackjack. However, I know that it is a game that’s made to earn money for casinos, just like many other casino games.
Casinos ultimately reserve the right to dictate the rules, as you basically earn money from them when you’re good at blackjack. However, when you’re good at poker, you profit from other players who all must abide by the rules of the game, just like you.
Therefore, I will have to side with poker, as it’s much more than just a card game. There’s an entire industry behind it, offering players opportunities on every corner.
Main Advantages of Poker Compared to BlackjackFirst of all, poker is a social game, and many like to see that as the most important advantage in comparison to blackjack. If you’re the type of person who likes hanging out with people and making new connections, this is a great opportunity to make some life-long friendships.
Moreover, poker comes in many variations. In fact, there are so many versions of poker that even the best players still learn how to play some of them. Therefore, you can always learn new things and try different games and tournaments. If you enjoy variety — poker is the game for you.
Poker is a game of skill, and many consider that an advantage as well. If you know how to choose tables in cash games and find fish (unskilled players), you can use your skill to maximize your winning potential.
Main Advantages of Blackjack Compared to Poker
Blackjack is much easier to learn and master compared to poker. Since there are strategies that work no matter what, blackjack players only need to focus on learning those in order to maximize their winning capacity. Once they learn the charts, there will be nothing else to learn, except card counting which is always an option.
If you consider yourself a lone wolf rather than a social person, then blackjack is a much better option for you. Although you might sit with several people at the same table, you’ll have nothing to do with them, which is why no human interaction is necessary, except with the dealer from time to time. Even if you don’t feel like talking to a dealer, there are online blackjack variants where the computer does all the dealing.
Are There Any Disadvantages in Poker and Blackjack?Both of these games have some downsides which I also need to cover to let you ultimately decide which one to choose.
The biggest disadvantage of poker is that it can become very time-consuming. Learning to play, improving your tactics, and taking part in cash games in tournaments take so much time that many decide to become professionals, quitting their job to pursue a career in poker.
If you really want to make positive results in this game, you’ll have to understand that there would be a lot of work to do.
The main disadvantage of blackjack was already listed in this article, and that’s the fact that casinos control the game. Moreover, many poker players don’t like blackjack because it seems not challenging enough for them.
Which Game Should You Choose?Simply put, if you are the type of person who likes exploring new things, learning all the time, and hanging out with other people, then poker is the right game for you.
On the other hand, if you like to enjoy routine and prefer playing the game by yourself, you should go with blackjack. Don’t consider routine a bad thing here. In fact, routine is something that wins you money in this game. Even if you get bored with traditional blackjack, you can try several other variations such as pontoon, Spanish 21 and more.
The answer to the topic question is — it all depends on your personal preferences and what type of personality you have.
Final Thoughts: My Opinion on Poker and BlackjackAs I promised, I’ll give you a personal opinion on these two games and my ultimate choice, so here it is.
If I were to choose between these two games, I’d definitely side with poker, as I simply like the vibrant community that is created around the game. However, I do play blackjack from time to time, especially when I want to rest from playing poker. I am not an expert blackjack player, so I don’t follow any charts and rely on the element of luck rather than skill.
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s take a look at some of the most frequently asked questions regarding poker and blackjack.