When it comes to all the casino card games available that offer a realistic opportunity for the player to make money, there really isn’t a long list of options. Two very popular games on the list are what are known to the world as poker and blackjack—just about everyone knows these games in one form or another, usually through TV or movies where they often figure prominently.
If you’ve ever watched the classic movie Casino or some of the newer gambling-focused movies like 21 or Casino Royale, then you’ve certainly watched someone play blackjack or poker.
These types of movies almost always skip over the mechanics of the game and focus on the atmosphere or feeling of the game, but for some who is trying to go directly into a casino to try to win some money, you’re going to have to learn the mechanics of the game if you want to succeed.
At every casino in the world, there is something in place called the “house advantage” or “house edge” which plays a huge role in every game in the casino and determines how much money you are going to lose over time. This basically means that casino games are set up in a way that assures that the casino is going to win more money than it loses over the long run (think thousands of hands by thousands of players).
Obviously, if the house won every time, then there wouldn’t be very many people who would be willing to risk large sums of money at the game. There has to be a chance that the player can win, or nobody would want to play at all.
Poker is different than blackjack in the sense that instead of playing against the house, players are playing against other players.
This provides a huge advantage when it comes to the opportunities that are available for a player to be able to win. Skill plays a much, much larger role in your ability to win at poker than it does at blackjack. Even if you’re very skilled at blackjack, you still will never be able to eliminate the house edge.
If you’re a better player than your opponents at the poker table, then you have a huge advantage. Players can still have an advantage at the blackjack table but need to be able to count cards. When it comes down to it, poker is a better game to play than blackjack if your goal is to win money, and it can also be a lot of fun playing against other players (as opposed to a stone-faced dealer).
Here are a couple reasons why.
1- No Heat
In poker and blackjack both, players have an opportunity to be long term winners. Unless you’re an expert card counter, it’s hard for a player to be a long term winner in blackjack. To be able to beat the house edge at blackjack, not only do you need to be able to count cards, but you also want to be able to combine that with hole carding and shuffle tracking.
These things definitely go way over the heads of many players and are hard to learn! Hole carding and shuffle tracking are possible in some blackjack games, but not all. And even still, both tactics can be extremely difficult for even the expert to pull off.
Card counting on the other hand is supposedly a lot less difficult to learn, and if you can master it, than you have the opportunity to reduce the house edge down to a half or a quarter of a percentage point or more over time.
Casinos often frown on card counting.
If you have seen the movie 21, then you know what I am talking about. It’s a movie and an overdramatization of the reality of what happens at casinos, but you can see players being taken into the back rooms of the casino by security and interrogated after being suspects for card counting.
Pit bosses and casino security are always on the lookout for card counters. This is what is called “the heat” in the card counting world.
So if you’re sitting at a blackjack table in a Las Vegas casino and are on a winning streak, then you can expect the heat to be on you!
Expert card counters have to be extremely discreet in what they are doing, because if not and they happen to get caught, it isn’t unlikely that they can get escorted out of the casino, or even worse, banned for life!
It’s very very difficult to cheat at a poker table at a casino. If a player is on a winning streak, this is almost always due to the players skill or the rare occasions that a player just happens to be that lucky.
The house is making money during a poker game by taking a small portion of each pot. The pot is where all of the bets are physically placed in the middle of the poker table. I say that because a player’s profitability at the poker table doesn’t have any impact on the money that the house is making in the slightest.
Another way that blackjack players try to avoid the heat is by always switching up the tables that they are playing at, or by rotating the casinos they play at. It’s much easier to get caught card counting at the blackjack table if you stay in the same seat at the same table for the entire night.
So again, poker players receive less heat than blackjack players, making it a better game to play at casinos.
2- No House Edge
I briefly touched on this earlier, but this is a major advantage that poker has over blackjack at casinos—there is no house edge when playing poker.
When you play poker, the house takes a small portion from the pot. This is called “the rake.” Every casino has different house rules, or particular rules at each game that are dictated by the casino, and the house rules will determine what the house takes for the rake during each poker game.
So a $50 pot might have a rake of $5, while a $100 pot might have a rake of $10. Pretty simple to understand.
At every casino, the rake has a maximum cap, so the pot can get super large and the casino is still only going to be able to take a capped amount.
When you’re playing poker, you’re playing against other players. The only hand that the house has in the game is the dealer who is dealing the cards to each player. There is no way that the dealer can have any influence on the game whatsoever.
Another easy way to look at the rake during poker is to think of it as the seat charge for getting to sit at the table and play. Every casino has a different seat charge or rake, and it’s always a good idea to know what that is before you sit at the table to play.
You will always have an opportunity to win more money from your opponents than what you’re paying forward for the rake. When it comes to poker and the rake, it doesn’t matter if you play 100 hands. You can always count on the rake staying the same throughout every round that is played.
This is not the case with blackjack. At blackjack, it’s the player against the house, and that means the player against the house edge. You do not have an opportunity to win more from other players, nor do you have an opportunity to play against the other players. Its you and the house, and unless you know what you’re doing, the odds are never in your favor as the player.
At blackjack, the house edge is determined and created by what’s called the “table rules.” Each table rule in black jack either increases the house edge or lowers it. Even the most skilled blackjack players are having a harder and harder time finding blackjack tables that can provide even a slight advantage to the players, giving us another reason why poker is a better game to play than blackjack.
Do you have other reasons that make poker a better game than blackjack? Or do you disagree and have reasons that blackjack is better than poker? I am happy to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!