As an ex-card counter and an almost full time online poker player then I can spot more similarities between casino blackjack and poker than most. Blackjack and poker are both games that require strategy to beat them. For example, have you ever considered why the casino has an edge in blackjack against all of those players that are not card counting? Remember that the dealer has to follow a very strict set of rules while the player can take cards to whatever total they like. The player can split totals and even double their stake if they want to. In fact they even get the bonus of being paid 3-2 on naturals.
So just why does the dealer have the edge? Is it because of underhanded casino practices or anything like that? The answer is very simple and is a strong analogy between this game and poker and can be summed up in one word…….position. That’s right, the age old advantage of getting to act after you have seen what your opponent has done. This doesn’t work in certain other sports and games but acting last is a massive advantage in poker and also in blackjack. Casinos make millions of dollars every year on blackjack simply because the dealer has position.
This is expanded even more if some of the players are very bad players. This is just one of many similarities between casino blackjack and online poker that are not apparent to the average player of either. Another link between the two comes in the form of game theory. Game theory is a branch of mathematics that allows us to see which strategies work best in certain key situations. The big quantum leap forward for a blackjack player is when they discover basic strategy. Just knowing a few strategy tables elevates a blackjack player above all other players who don’t use basic.
In poker there is a basic strategy as well for all games. These are the default plays that you make against certain actions by your opponents if you assume that every hand was the first hand of a session with no history. Basic strategy in poker is much more complex than blackjack and takes longer to learn but if you do learn it then you can almost automatically make money in low stakes games. This is called multi-level game strategy and we can see that a non-basic strategy playing blackjack player could be classed as a level 0 player.
Learning basic strategy then elevates you to level 1 just like it does in poker. You can really only make money as a level 1 player from level 0 players or in a poker sense…….total novices. This is why many people who can play a decent game of poker do not make money. They have reached level 1 and then believe that this is strong enough to do well. Maybe that was the case a few years ago but we now need to progress to level 2 which is exploiting level 1 players. The blackjack equivalent would be something like a card counter. Understanding the link between blackjack and poker can really help you to take huge strides in your understanding of all forms of gambling.