The games of poker and blackjack are easily two of the most popular card games played across the globe. To an untrained eye, the games may seem quite similar, but they are actually fundamentally different from each other.
The biggest difference between the two, of course, is the fact that blackjack is a table game played against the casino, while poker is a social game played among players.
This leads right into the second big difference between the two, which is the fact that poker can be beaten with solid poker strategy. Blackjack is a game that gives the casino a slight edge that can hardly be overcome.
Both poker and blackjack have a high status in the gambling community, so I decided to take a close look at the blackjack vs. poker debate and find out similarities and differences between these two games.
1. The Skill Level Difference
If you asked both blackjack and poker players if theirs was a game of luck or skill, they would both probably tell you it’s all about the skill.
There is some truth to this, as both games require skill in order to achieve the best possible results. Yet, the skill edge you can have in Blackjack is capped, and it still doesn’t give you an advantage over the casino.
In poker, you can constantly improve your skills, and you can play against various opponents, having a massive edge over some of them if you are a good poker player.
Blackjack only allows you to play the perfect mathematical strategy, which still leaves you slightly short of breaking even.
Of course, card counting techniques can possibly give you an edge in blackjack as well. But, since you will probably get banned for counting cards, there isn’t really much you can do to beat the game of blackjack.
In this one, poker has a clear advantage when we compare poker vs. blackjack. It is a game in which true fortunes can be made through sheer skill.
2. Poker vs. Blackjack: The Social Aspect
When we compare blackjack vs. poker, we have to take into account the fact that blackjack is a proper casino game.
This means you could sit down at the table and play against the dealer without any other players at your table. In fact, this is very often the case.
Poker, on the other hand, requires at least two players to play, and in most cases, there will be at least six active players at the table.
What’s more, the players at the poker table are competing against each other, while multiple blackjack players at the table don’t really make any difference in how you should approach the game.
Poker will require you to outthink your opponents, set traps for them, and play mental games to get them to make mistakes.
Blackjack, on the other hand, only requires that you remain sharp enough not to deviate from the optimal strategy and always make the same plays in the same situations.
Playing with other players makes poker an infinitely more complex game as anyone could do anything at any point. There is no way to be sure, as the human factor is completely unpredictable.
3. You Can’t Bluff at Blackjack
When you play poker, there is almost always a way to win the hand, even if it might not be obvious. If you don’t have a good poker hand, you could always bluff and win the pot by force.
Blackjack, on the other hand, only allows you to play your cards face up and make the plays that are mathematically the most sound.
While this is a skill in itself, the concept of bluffing makes the game of poker both more competitive and entertaining.
Not only is bluffing allowed in poker, but it is basically a requirement. If you never bluffed, your opponents would always know what you have, and you would never be able to win.
The balancing act between value betting and bluffing in poker makes this game the most elite of all gambling games out there, providing another clear win in the poker vs. blackjack debate.
4. Card Counting Only Works in Blackjack
Whether you are a cards shark or not, you have surely heard people talk all sorts of nonsense in bars trying to impress girls. The silliest one I have heard is probably one about counting cards to win at poker.
Card counting is a popular advantage technique in the game of blackjack, but it has no bearing on the game of poker whatsoever.
Only a handful of cards are seen in every poker hand, and while you should certainly take these into account in many ways, this is not card counting.
The card deck is shuffled in full after every hand of poker, making it impossible to count cards in any manner in the game of poker.
The very obvious lesson I am trying to teach you with this one is that the next time you hear someone talking about card counting in poker, you should try to get him to play against you, as they are definitely clueless about the game
5. Blackjack vs. Poker: You Can Win in Poker
Poker is a skill game through and through, which means you can definitely win at poker, as many professional poker players have done for years.
While it is technically possible to win at blackjack with card counting as well, the technique itself is frowned upon by the casinos, who will likely ban you for using it.
On the other hand, winning poker players are the elite in the casino community. They’re treated like royalty by players and staff alike and often portrayed by the media as proper rock stars.
If you want to live the life of glamour and win huge sums of money consistently, poker should be the game you look into.
The vast majority of blackjack players are actually losing money, even if they are able to come close to breaking even, and they surely don’t lose as much as roulette or slots players.
The fact that you can win in the long run at poker is another reason that the discussion about poker vs. blackjack is not even a real debate. Poker is clearly the better game to master.
6. Poker Winners Are Celebrities
Some of the most successful Blackjack players of all time were card counters who used techniques that the casino owners considered cheating and often took them to courts for.
While in most jurisdictions, card counting is not illegal today, the techniques are still seen as shady and looked down on by the casino operators.
This means that as a good blackjack player, you will be a persona non grata in casinos around the world, with everyone wishing to see your back as soon as possible.
Poker champions, on the other hand, are always a welcome sight in any casino in the world.
Winning poker players are interviewed by the media, celebrated by the masses, and welcomed by the casino staff.
This is yet another reason why poker is a better game to master, as the opportunities it gives you are nearly endless.
7. Blackjack Is Easier to Master
If you wanted to learn every play and skill in the blackjack playbook, it might take you a couple of months to master them.
The basic strategy can be mastered in a couple of days, while card counting techniques may take a bit longer but are mostly a thing of practice.
Poker, on the other hand, is an extremely complex game.
In fact, there are even many different versions of the game, such as Texas Hold’em, Seven Card Stud, and Pot-Limit Omaha, all with completely different rules and skillsets.
Becoming a true poker master will probably take you many years, perhaps even a lifetime. The complexity of poker means you will probably have to dedicate your whole life to it if you want to become really good.
This is one of the ways in which blackjack wins the blackjack vs. poker debate, as it can be played well even if you are not completely dedicated to it.
8. Blackjack vs. Poker: Sponsorship Opportunities
Being a great poker player these days means more than just winning money at the tables. As the game grows more popular, more sponsor money is also injected into the economy.
As a poker champion, especially one who has won a big poker tournament, you will have opportunities to get paid to do interviews, show up in TV poker shows, or represent various online poker sites.
All these opportunities don’t really exist for blackjack players, who are generally considered as little more than degenerate gamblers.
This is why poker is the preferred game of those who are looking to make a career out of gambling, as there is no clear way to do so with a game like blackjack.
Poker players can also make entire careers in poker coaching, content creation, and a host of other related industries, making the opportunities nearly endless.
Since you can win at poker without even having to leave your house, there is a real chance to make it big from a very small bankroll and eventually reach a point where people are paying you to play.
9. Blackjack Is More Relaxing
Nothing about the game of poker is relaxing. When you are sitting at that table, all eyes will be on you, with players left and right looking for ways to take your money.
When you are playing blackjack, on the other hand, you can relax and simply play your preset strategy without much concern for what anyone else is doing.
The fact you don’t have to keep any tabs on other players or the dealer definitely makes blackjack the more relaxing game, and it allows you all the freedom in the world.
You can get up from the table at any time, you can play hands for any stake you choose, and no one is trying to strip you of your money by outplaying you.
Since it’s just you versus the dealer, and the dealer must play in a fixed way, you will never need to worry about them making a play that will cost you money in any way.
This takes much of the pressure that poker imposes off you and allows you to enjoy your night. If you are looking for a chill night with a few cocktails and a little gambling, blackjack is probably the perfect game for you.
10. Blackjack vs. Poker: Competitive Aspects
The game of poker is about more than just gambling or winning and losing money. It is about competition, titles, and making a legacy for yourself.
While all of these things are not necessarily a part of every player’s plan, they are out there for the taking, and you have every chance to claim them as your own.
Poker titles and silverware are very valuable and can easily be compared to the titles and cups won in professional sports.
Players with multiple WSOP bracelets are celebrated across the poker world and often treated like celebrities even when they are just living their normal daily lives.
Poker is an extremely competitive game that allows for players with a competitive spirit to thrive and show themselves in their true light.
This is certainly not something that everyone enjoys, and one of the reasons many players choose blackjack vs. poker is exactly their lack of competitive drive.
The final choice is up to you, but if you are someone who loves to compete and prove yourself better, poker will surely be the better pick for you.