Embrace Blackjack to Become a Better Poker Player
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Embrace Blackjack to Become a Better Poker Player
Whether you are playing the game at home or in venues across the world, poker can offer up a fair share of drama, thrills and excitement. After all, this is why the game is arguably more popular than ever, with an estimated 40 million people playing it across the world.
However, while we of course completely love the game, it has to be said that there can be benefits to having a go at other games now and then. As we managed to demonstrate when comparing poker to rock-paper-scissors, there is plenty to learn from looking at the game from a different point of view and seeing how strategies in other pastimes could help you to develop your understanding.
True staples of casino gaming
Blackjack, which is all about beating the dealer’s hand without going over 21, is one game which might fit the bill in this regard. Although findings from the UNLV Center for Gaming Research have suggested that interest in the game in a traditional casino setting has dropped in recent years, it does remain one of the true staples of casino gaming and continues to thrive on online sites. For example, a site like Betway Casino offers around 30 variations on the game from European blackjack to Atlantic City blackjack and Multi-Hand blackjack. Similarly to poker, blackjack variants will sometimes have just one difference to the more standard European format, while in some cases the added rules will make it an almost completely different game.
Both poker and blackjack are based on the same straightforward idea. They are card-based games where the ultimate objective is to beat an opponent with a stronger hand. With this in mind, it is perhaps not too surprising that people have been able to make the jump from one game to another. For example, Andy Bloch, the MIT Blackjack team player, is one of the players who have made the transition and become a hugely successful poker player with over $5 million in live winnings. However, despite everything they have in common, they are wildly different games. Still, blackjack may well provide you with some food for thought when it comes to your poker strategy.
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One of the most lovable aspects of blackjack is its pace. It is a fast game with lots of hands, which instantly gives it a much different feel to the slower, more ponderous stylings of poker, whose merits we've seen dissected online and in books such as Victoria Coren's For Richer, For Poorer. The speed of blackjack speed provides benefits in a number of ways.
First of all, blackjack is all about a form of automatic decision making. As you are solely up against the dealer who is working on a single strategy, there is no need to think too hard about what is going on. You simply have to train your mind to react to certain situations in certain ways. According to an infographic on Inc.com, one way to train yourself to make fast decisions is drawing a hard line between good and bad choices, and such a line can be drawn in blackjack by looking at the probabilities of getting the card you want on the next draw. This obviously has similarities to poker and means you can still keep your mind sharp without doing much of the heavy lifting associated with poker.
This ability to trust your instinct and react automatically could prove to be useful while playing poker. While you are likely to face a host of different situations depending on the cards you have and the strategy of you opponents, you can call on your experience to react "automatically" based on your training, rather than over-thinking the scenario. This may not only reduce some of the stress you experience during a game but also dial down the emotional aspect, which may mean you are able to stay cool, calm and collected and better focused on the situation in front of you.
Become a loser
Another benefit of blackjack’s pace is that – and do not take this the wrong way – it gives you an opportunity to get used to the taste of defeat. As you will sit through a number of hands in quick succession, you will quickly come to terms with losing. If this is something you struggle with in poker, this might ultimately again help you to keep your cool in that game. Going on tilt is a huge issue in poker even with the pros, so blackjack can help you get used to taking it without choking - a very real thing in the world of professional sports and mind sports. Losing is just a part of the game and it can be hard to take, but becoming more accepting of it may just keep your sanity and concentration in check.
Just enjoy it
Following on from that point, the structure of blackjack and the fact that it does not require much deep thinking ultimately means you can just relax and enjoy it a bit more. This also means the game can act as an important reminder of why we love brain sports like this in the first place. Enjoyment should always come first and maintaining that outlook in your poker matches can only be positive in the long run.
For all of their differences, there is clearly a lot that poker and blackjack have in common. Getting to know each of the games better could prove to be an astute move which helps you to further develop your skills in both disciplines.