If you had to name two of the most popular online casino games in the world today, you might well come up with poker and blackjack. Both card games have their fans and adherents. With poker, you are taking on other players, trying to build the best possible hand or bluffing your way to success, while blackjack involves competing with a dealer. On the face of it, the two games appear to be very different, but there is a great deal of crossover between them, which is why poker players are often able to successfully transfer their skills to blackjack.
Online poker has enjoyed a rapid growth over the last few years with millions of new players all over the world trying to learn the unique blend of maths, strategic thinking and psychology required to master the game. Successful poker players tend to be calm and able to make rapid calculations, and these skills often enable them to prosper in the world of blackjack.
On one level, blackjack is a simpler game, in which you don’t take on a table of other players, but instead compete with the dealer, bidding to get the highest score without exceeding a total of 21. It is, however, a complex game, requiring a mastery of strategy, and an ability to be calm and methodical, which is what makes it perfect for poker players.
In both blackjack and poker, learning, refining and executing strategies are essential prerequisites for success. The wider possibilities for action in a poker game mean that there is an infinite variety of potential strategies to master, including tight play, aggressive play, bluffing and so on. A good poker player will therefore find it relatively straightforward to master the more limited range of strategies required to succeed at blackjack, and their ability to memorize the ideal play in every situation will be invaluable.
Mathematics and Card Value
Although psychology and strategy come into both games, at their heart, poker and blackjack are all about maths. Good poker players spend a lot of their time calculating odds, working out card values and hand values, and assessing their options based on the maths of a situation. Those mathematical foundations are a good basis for understanding blackjack, which is much more math intensive.
In blackjack it is obviously important to be able to add quickly and to know card values but more importantly, the blackjack player needs a full understanding of probability. In blackjack, every event in the game is dependent on the preceding event, and to keep track of the best move to make next requires the player to be able to calculate and recalculate probabilities quickly. For example, if you draw a ten of hearts in single deck blackjack, you know that the card cannot come up against and that the other cards that are yet to be drawn have a slightly increased probability of coming up next. The probability calculation skills you learn while playing poker are invaluable when it comes to this aspect of blackjack.
When playing both poker and blackjack you can come under a lot of pressure, particularly when there are high takes involved. Good poker players learn how to stay calm and to continue to make the right decision even when under pressure, and this ability keep cool, make the right decision and execute the correct strategy when under stress is an important skill that can give the poker player an edge when they play blackjack.
An important part of a good poker player’s skill set is the ability to retain your focus. Online poker games, particularly tournaments, can last for hours, and there may be long stretches of play in which the player doesn’t get involved in a single hand, but good poker players use this time wisely to study their opponents, and never lose focus. That ability to concentrate for long periods of time is important in blackjack. Successful execution of a blackjack strategy requires a player to be constantly analysing the game situation, calculating probabilities and making the right move. A single mistake can be costly, which is why the hours spent focusing on a poker game is excellent preparation for playing online casino blackjack.
Long Term Dedication
Dedication is a quality often overlooked but no player can succeed at either poker or blackjack without it. In defeat or victory, good poker players learn to look past short term luck and evaluate their performances after every game, and that same level of dedication can pay dividends at the blackjack table. Analysing strategies, assessing moves and evaluating mistakes are good habits that poker players learn and that can give the poker player an edge if they switch to playing blackjack.
There is considerable crossover between the world’s two favourite skill-based casino card games, and the skills that online poker players learn, from staying calm under pressure to learning how to quickly calculate odds and choose the right strategy, can help the poker player to succeed when they try their hand at blackjack.