Blackjack vs. Poker: Which game has the best odds?
They are two of the most popular card games on the planet, yet blackjack and poker can have very different odds of you winning. In the end, it all depends on how good you are at poker.
As we shall see, your expected win rate in blackjack will be relatively consistent, no matter your skill set. But in poker, notably the most popular version of the game, Texas Hold’em, your expected profits will rise or fall depending on how skillfully you play.
Blackjack vs. poker odds
The casino must make a profit to remain in business, so each game from slots to roulette and blackjack, has a built-in house edge.
For inexperienced blackjack players, the house edge might be as high as 4%. That means for every $100 they bet, they are expected to lose $4. However, that house edge will come down considerably by following a solid blackjack strategy – down to around 0.5% in many cases. In other words, you will lose 50 cents for every $100 you bet – not bad for a few hours’ of entertainment.
Poker odds are skill-based
Are blackjack and poker the same? Absolutely not. The games are entirely different. Poker is a game of probability in that you know which cards you need to make a poker hand, and you should understand the chances of getting those cards based on the number known to remain in the deck.
However, while the odds of making a poker flush or a straight, or being dealt two aces, are set in stone, you cannot merely equate these to your odds of winning.
You could if you were thinking of video poker, where you are effectively playing robotically against the house. But in proper poker, like Texas Hold’em or Omaha, you are playing against other people. And other people are unpredictable. It changes the whole dynamic because now your odds of winning depend on how good or bad (or in some cases lucky) they are.
Which casino game do you prefer playing?
Further, this all assumes you complete every hand. You might have a relatively poor starting hand in Hold’em, say 8-Jack offsuit, only to see everyone else fold before you even had to act, so you pick up the blinds and any antes. 8-J is a terrible hand, but you just confounded the odds by winning the hand with it.
Trying to assess your winning odds in poker also cannot take luck into account. Let’s say you are dealt pocket aces and get "all in" with a poor player who has only 4-7. With all the money in the middle, it’s left to the dealer to run the board. It comes 3-9-K-5-6, and you lose a large pot to an unlikely straight! The odds suggest your aces should have won easily, but the opposite happened.
Poker skill shows in the end
In poker, the skilled player who plays the odds correctly will win more than he loses over the longterm. As in our unfortunate example above with the aces against 4-7, any fool can win any hand once. But if that hand was replayed 100 times, the aces player would win a substantial profit.
Just how much profit the poker player makes depends on his skill, including the ability to get the maximum value out of the other players at the table – and lay down your hand when you are losing. It’s one thing to win a lot of poker hands, but you have to win as many chips as you can to be optimal.
Play poker or blackjack for profit?
In the long term, you cannot make a profit from blackjack unless you find a way to beat the house edge. However, you can play the odds to make a profit at poker if you are skilled enough.
There is a flip side to this argument. An average player will accept that he will lose a small amount over time playing blackjack. He will treat it as a little tax on his entertainment. However, an unskilled poker player can lose a large sum of money in a much shorter period, and those odds might be unappealing to many.
Play what you enjoy within your limits
In the end, it doesn’t matter which game has better odds. It falls to what you enjoy playing.
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