If you are a gambler that is looking for your best opportunity to win money, you may have asked yourself at some point, which game is better, poker or blackjack?
Both games offer an opportunity to use your skill to better improve your chances of winning, so they tend to attract some of the same players. But I am here to tell you that while both games require a similar skill set to play well, that poker is the far superior option when it comes to getting value for your money.
In this article, we are going to compare blackjack vs poker and tell you why you want to try your hand at poker, and not blackjack.
Before we get too far into talking about why I see poker as a much better game to play than blackjack.
Let’s first make sure that everyone out there understands what these games actually are, by breaking down each of these games individually.
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What Is Blackjack?
Blackjack, commonly known as 21, is a house-banked casino game where players try to get closer to 21 than the dealer, without going over. Blackjack has been the single most popular casino game in the world for a very long time.
It is very easy to learn and understand:
It offers a fair gamble, with one of the lowest house advantages of any casino game, as well as a fast pace that players love.
Whether you are walking into a brick-and-mortar casino or logging onto your favorite online casino, you are going to find plenty of blackjack tables willing to take your action. The core of any blackjack game is going to be the same, where you are going to find different variations is on the side bets, rules, and payouts.
The reason that so many skilled players are attracted to blackjack is because there are multiple ways to cut into that house advantage and depending on the specific rule sets at the table you are playing, there are even ways to swing the odds in your favor if you play the perfect strategy.
Unlike most online casino games like craps, roulette, and baccarat, where no matter how well you play them, you are always going to be at a disadvantage, blackjack offers the players that are willing to put the work in,
A chance to play the game profitably.
By now most of you have likely heard of the famous MIT blackjack team that took Vegas for millions of dollars by using math to beat the house. So there are ways to make consistent money playing blackjack if you know what you are doing.
What Is Poker?
Poker is a loose term that describes a bunch of different casino games where players play against each other to make the best hand and win a pot. Unlike blackjack, poker is a game that pits players against each other, not the house.
While there are a host of different poker games that are played regularly, by far the most played and recognizable game is Texas Hold ‘Em. No limit Texas Hold ‘Em is the game used to decide the World Champion each year at the $10,000 buy-in main event of the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, and has been called the Cadillac of poker, as it is the gold standard of casino poker games.
As Texas Hold ‘Em accounts for the vast majority of casino poker games, it will be the game used for this discussion. But please note that there are many other poker games offered including 7 card stud, Omaha, Razz, low ball, draw poker, and many more.
How To Play Texas Hold ‘Em
Texas Hold ‘Em is a 7 card poker game where each player is dealt 2 cards to start the game. There is a betting round, followed by what is called the flop. The flop contains 3 community cards that all players can use in their hands.
Players get the chance to wager on the flop and it is then followed by what is called the turn, 1 additional community card to be shared by all players. After the turn betting round, there is 1 final community card dealt, the river, followed by a final betting round.
At the end of the hand, the player with the best 5 card poker hand using the 5 community cards and their 2 hole cards, wins the pot!
Texas Hold ‘Em can be played as a cash game or a tournament and while both forms of the game are very popular, we are going to focus on cash games as we compare blackjack vs poker.
There are some places that spread blackjack tournaments.
But they are rare, so for a better apples-to-apples comparison, we are going to only look at Texas Hold ‘Em cash games for this debate of poker vs blackjack.
Similarities Between The Two
The biggest similarity between poker and blackjack is the ability to play the game profitably. So few casino games offer an opportunity for players to show a long-term profit, that the games that do have a skill component, tend to be games that are played by the same groups of players.
These aren’t your average thrill-seekers or gamblers, these are players looking to find an edge and exploit it. The strategies for how to beat both of these games are very different, but they both involve the ability to quickly calculate odds and probability on the spot and use that information to guide your bets and decisions.
If you can pull that off, you can absolutely make money at both games. We aren’t going to dive too deep into what those specifics strategies actually are, as you could fill a library with all of the differing opinions on both, but they do require similar skillsets and abilities.
Differences Between The Two
For me, that is where the similarities end, as ultimately these are very different games. By far the biggest difference between these games is how the casino makes their money on them.
Blackjack is a house-banked game, which means that when you win, the house loses, and when you lose, the house wins.
Poker is a player banked game, as the house has no interest at all in the pot, they just take out a small percentage as a fee, and the winning and losing of money is strictly between the players.
While that might not be a key distinction to all of you, that difference in how the house makes their money when spreading these games makes a world of difference as to why poker is the game to play when deciding between blackjack vs poker.
You can go into a casino to play poker every single day, win money consistently, and the casino will have no problem with it at all.
If you start winning too often at blackjack, the house is losing money, and we all know that the house always wins.
So just the fact that you are winning at blackjack is going to be enough to put you on the casino’s radar as what is known as an advantage player.
Advantage Play: Poker vs Blackjack
Any time that you are playing a casino game where you have a long-term edge, you are considered an advantage player. The difference here though when it comes to blackjack vs poker, is how the casino treats their various advantage players.
A blackjack advantage player, that is able to gain an advantage by counting cards, exploiting rule sets, and making variable-sized bets, is a player that the casino will look to ban and refuse their action.
An advantage poker player? You have likely seen them on ESPN winning World Series of Poker bracelets and being celebrated by the casino. That is a stark contrast and it all boils down to how the casino makes their money on these games.
Why Choose Poker Over Blackjack?
The reason that the famed MIT blackjack team was able to get an advantage over the Vegas casinos was because they were very smart people (I mean they did go to MIT), who had a huge bankroll, and there was meticulous planning involved.
Getting one over on a casino is tough business, and believe it or not, beating the game was actually the easy part, as not getting caught was the part that made the MIT team so legendary. Many casual blackjack players wrongly assume that just counting cards is enough to beat a standard BJ game, but that isn’t the case.
You can reduce the house edge by card counting:
But you aren’t actually going to have an advantage over the house unless your strategy also takes into account bet sizing, the ruleset of the table you are at, and how to win while avoiding drawing too much unwanted attention from casino security.
If you don’t have all of the pieces of the puzzle, you aren’t going to be a long-term winner at a blackjack table, and if you are, you are going to quickly find yourself banned from the casino. From a legal standpoint, counting cards isn’t going to get you tossed in jail, but if the casino catches wind of it, it certainly will get you tossed out of the casino.
Casinos aren’t in the business of losing money, and as soon as you are identified as an advantage player, there won’t be a casino around willing to take your action.
When it comes to poker, not only does the casino not throw you out just because you are winning, but they are happy to have you in the casino, as all they need to make money is a game. Casinos can’t lose at a poker table, and they could care less which players are taking all of the money.
If you do your homework and make sure that you are playing in games against players that are less skilled than you are, you are going to make money, and there is no reason to hide it.
Money can be made at both games, but the fact that winning at blackjack turns you into a quasi-criminal that the casinos are going to look to give you the boot and winning at poker can get you on TV and your face on the cover of a magazine, makes it the far more appealing game to play.
If you are new to casino gaming or are a regular player, that is just now starting to look for an edge, I suggest you put your time and efforts into poker and not blackjack. Unless you want to be a player that is always lurking in the shadows while looking over your shoulder for casino security, being a winning blackjack player isn’t for you.
Both games require similar skillsets to gain an edge, and both games are exceedingly hard to win at in the long run. There is plenty of money to be made at both poker and blackjack tables, but one comes with recognition and acclaim, whereas the other comes with a casino trespass and hard feelings.
If I have shown you the light and you are now convinced that poker is the game to play when it comes to blackjack vs poker, make sure that you swing by TheSportsGeek’s Top Online Poker Sites page, where we give you exclusive deals at the highest-rated online poker rooms. Thanks for reading and good luck on the felt!
PLACE YOUR BETS NOW!