Blackjack vs. Poker: Which Casino Card Game is Right for You?
Blackjack and poker are among the most popular casino games. Learn what the differences are before making one of them your signature.
Casino card games are a staple of any gambling establishment. Whether you’re looking to play for high stakes or just pass the time, there’s a game out there for everyone.
Two of the most popular casino card games are blackjack and poker. Both have their own rules and applicable strategies and offer different odds. In this article, we’ll talk more about blackjack vs. poker, so that you can make an informed decision about which game is right for you.
Playing by the Rules
To be able to talk about the differences between these two games, we must first understand how they’re played. With many variants of both poker and blackjack it can be difficult to choose a type that’s a good match for you. Our article focuses on the two most played versions of these popular games: Texas Hold’ em and classic blackjack.
The Basics of Blackjack
Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games in the world, and it’s not hard to see why. Blackjack is easy to pick up and play, while still providing plenty of strategic options. But before you pull up a chair and make yourself at home at the blackjack table, it’s wise to understand the basic rules of the game.
Each player at the table starts with two cards, which are dealt face down. The dealer also has two cards, but one is dealt face-up so that all players can see it, while the other is dealt face-down. This tilts the odds of winning in blackjack slightly in favor of the dealer.
Based on the values of their cards and the dealer’s face-up card, each player must decide whether to take another card (hit), keep their current hand (stand), double the bet and take another card (double down), or split two cards of the same value into two hands and play them separately (split).
The goal of the game is fairly straightforward: outscore the dealer’s hand by achieving a greater score than he does while maintaining a total that is lower than 21. If a player’s hand totals more than 21, they are said to “bust,” and they immediately lose.
The same goes for the dealer, in which case the player wins.
Blackjack Side Bets
There can be several blackjack players at the table, but all are playing against the dealer. At the start of each hand, you place a bet with the odds of two to one. That means that if you bet $10 and win, you get your $10 back and an extra $10 from the house.
You can also make some side bets to make your game more interesting. Here are some of the popular choices:
The 21+3 bet not only involves blackjack but also poker game elements. You’re betting that your first two cards and the dealer’s card make a hand from three-hand poker. For example, getting a seven, eight, and nine of hearts is a “straight flush” and pays 40:1, while if you had seven, eight, and nine off-suited the payout is usually 10:1.
When betting on perfect pairs, you’re betting that your two cards are going to make a pair. Two cards of the same number but different suits and colors payout 5:1, while if the pair is the same color, the payout is 12:1. In multi-deck blackjack you can also get a pair of cards that are the same number and suit, making it a perfect pair, which pays out 25:1
If you get five cards without getting “bust” you get what is called a 5-card Charlie. In some casinos, this is already enough for you to win. You can turn it into a side bet and the casinos will pay out 5:1. You can also place bets for a 6-Card Charlie and the 7-Card and Charlie for odds of 10:1 and 30:1, respectively.
While it’s great getting strong starting cards or taking one card and getting closer to 21, when playing blackjack, you get dealt another poor card and then another. This can be frustrating because you’re trying to get as near to 21 as possible. 5-Card Charlie allows you to draw another card, giving you another chance to win. As long as you don’t go over 21, of course.
The Basics of Poker
Blackjack and poker rules are very different, but they are both easy to understand, and once you’ve played a few hands, you’ll quickly get the hang of poker too.
You can find different kinds of poker games like Omaha Hi-Lo and Seven-Card Stud. However, if you’re just starting to play poker, Texas Hold’ em is your best bet. This popular type of poker is often played in casinos, tournaments, and online.
The object of the game is to make the best possible hand using any combination of your two-hole cards, which are your starting hand, and the five community cards that are dealt face up in the middle of the table.
First, each player will be dealt two cards. After the first hand is dealt, every player that wants to be part of that round must bet a small amount of money (the “ante”) to begin the pot. Once the betting round is complete, three more community cards are dealt face-up in the middle of the table (called the “flop”).
Another round of betting ensues, and then a fourth community card (the “turn”) and a fifth community card (the “river”) are dealt. Finally, there is one last round of betting before all the players that are left at the table reveal their hands.
The player with the best hand wins the pot.
Poker Face: Playing the Players
One major difference between poker and blackjack is that, in poker, you are competing against the other players at the table.
There is also a lot more variety in terms of the types of poker games you can play, even if you just stick to Texas Hold’ em. You can play both live cash games and tournaments, and as Texas Hold’ em is one of the most popular online casino games, if you’re looking for some poker action, you’ll surely find it.
When you play blackjack, where you’re basing your strategy solely on the odds, in poker, you’ll be facing between two and eight opponents, and you need to take into account their individual playing styles.
If you want to be a successful poker player and win games, you’ll need to change your strategy when needed. Sitting at the poker table with half a dozen players or going head-to-head with someone in the final stage is not the same, and requires different skills. When playing poker, you’re playing the player more than the cards they have.
How To Play Poker and Blackjack
At the basic level, both blackjack and poker are easy to learn and enjoy, and can be played with a standard deck of playing cards.
However, any serious player will tell you there’s a secret strategy to their game. Let’s look at some of the most common strategies used in card games.
Mastering poker strategy will improve your odds of winning at poker and help you become a successful player. To be good at poker, you have to adapt your play depending on what’s going on at the table.
There are a few key things to keep in mind when devising your strategy:
- Be aware of the odds: This means understanding the probabilities of making certain hands and using this knowledge to your advantage. For example, if you know that there’s a low chance of making a flush, you might be more inclined to fold rather than risk losing your chips.
- Awareness of the other players at the table: This means paying attention to their betting patterns and trying to read their body language. If you can get an accurate read on your opponents, it will give you a big advantage.
- Discipline: This is an important aspect of any poker strategy. Even if you have a strong hand, there’s no guarantee that you’ll win if you don’t play your cards right. That’s why it’s crucial to know when to quit – even if it means walking away from a big pot.
As much as players enjoy the game itself, winning is always a special kind of rush. Still, as both poker and blackjack are games of chance, chasing that rush sometimes stays just that-a chase.
But what if there was a way to increase your chances of winning at blackjack? Let’s look at some popular blackjack strategies:
- Splitting pairs: When you get a pair of cards, you have the option to split them. For example, you should always split a pair of aces as you’ll get the chance for a “blackjack” if you get a ten-value card next. On the other hand, you shouldn’t split two ten-value cards as this gives you less of a chance to win.
- Double down: You can double on your initial bet after you receive your two cards and see your chance of winning. The best times to do this are when your total after the first two cards is eleven or when you have a “hard” nine or a ten-value card.
- Counting cards: This frowned upon strategy consists of keeping track of cards that have been dealt, and those still in the game. The simplest way to count cards is by counting how many high and low cards have passed.
Another way to do this is a controversial technique called “edge sorting.” This involves noticing subtle differences on the backs of the cards so you can eventually tell if the dealer’s face-down card is a low-value card or a high-value card.
If you want to learn a couple more blackjack strategies that might help you win, you can read our full article on the topic.
The House Edge
Another discernable difference between blackjack and poker is how the casinos make money on these games. This might influence some gamblers’ decisions to play one card game over another.
In blackjack, you are playing against the dealer’s hand, which represents the house, so in the end, all the money you lose stays with the casino.
The house has an innate advantage in the long run, called the house edge. Blackjack players have to play their hand before the dealer does, and they have a chance to potentially go “bust,” so the house will win some hands without having to take the risk.
Unlike blackjack, poker sets you up to compete against the rest of the players at the table. The house takes a small percentage of the pot, and the bulk of the money goes to the winner.
Usually, there is much more poker action in the casinos. For tournaments, the casino game comes with an entry fee charge. The casino will collect the fees from each player, and keep a part of the total sum as profit.
Poker vs. Blackjack Odds
The odds are important to consider in both of these games, as they can greatly impact your chances of winning.
In blackjack, the odds will change depending on whether you decide to hit or stand after drawing a card, while in poker, the strength of your hand and how much money is at stake are key factors.
For poker players, odds provide a way for players to calculate their potential winnings and make informed decisions about whether to stay in or fold. Odds are a way to say how likely it is that something will happen. In poker, this means how likely it is that you will get a certain hand or hit a certain card on the flop.
The odds of getting a pocket pair are 5.9%, which is close to three times per fifty hands. The odds for an A-K are 81.9 to or 0.9%, which means once in every hundred hands or so. The odds of getting two suited cards are much better, at 23.5%.
So next time you sit down at the poker table, take a moment to think about the odds, as they could be the key to your success.
Most people know that blackjack is a game of chance. There are a couple of factors that are involved in getting the odds right:
- The more decks you’re playing with, the higher the house edge. Most casinos use six to eight decks for blackjack games. There is a slight difference between the house edge with six and eight decks, 0.551% vs. 0.577%. But that’s both significantly higher than the house edge with a single deck, which is 0.014%.
- Another thing to keep in mind is that blackjack odds vary depending on the specific rules of the game. Games where the dealer is hitting on a soft 17 instead of standing, increase the house edge for 0.22%.
The odds of being dealt a natural blackjack (an ace and a ten-value card), which is basically the winning hand, are about 4.75%. This means the chance of you getting dealt a winning hand is once every 21 hands.
By understanding the rules, you can get the best blackjack odds and put yourself in a much better position to win. To learn more about blackjack odds before you hit the tables, read our full article on this subject.
Blackjack is an easy game with a low house edge, while poker offers more excitement and potential for bigger wins. So, which is the better card game, poker or blackjack?
Ultimately, the best game is the one that you enjoy playing the most. If you’re looking to have some fun and even win some money along the way, blackjack is a great option. If you’re looking for an exciting challenge and the opportunity to go head-to-head with other players, then poker is definitely the way to go. Whichever game you choose, we wish you luck!
Does poker or blackjack have better odds?
If you are playing a game of blackjack in a casino, the house always has an edge. However, if you are a skilled player, you can use basic strategy to improve your odds.
In most cases, poker is a game of skill, and the better player will usually win in the long run. However, there are also some elements of luck involved, which means that even the best players can have losing streaks.
Is blackjack a skill or just luck?
While luck certainly plays a role in blackjack, skill is also a critical factor. Players who know how to count cards and make strategic decisions can swing the odds in their favor, and significantly lower the house edge. In the end, blackjack is a game that requires both luck and skill to win.
Is blackjack easier than poker?
When it comes to blackjack vs. poker and the question of which one is easier, card game enthusiasts will often choose blackjack. For one thing, blackjack is one of the most popular casino games for a reason, as it’s relatively easy to learn and play. Poker, on the other hand, can be a bit more tricky, particularly if you’re new to the game.
Blackjack has a set of simple rules that anyone can pick up in a matter of minutes, while poker requires a bit more strategy.