Category Archives: Poker

The Top Casino Card Games That You Can Play Online

Ace of Hearts - King of HeartsBy Leslie Alexander

Every industry has its origin story. And if we would look for the game that started what we know today as modern-day casinos it would be any card game. Card games have always been interesting to players since they include factors like quick thinking, the powers of perception, as well as socializing.

Card games have evolved over time. As technology slowly integrated itself with the gambling industry, players worldwide got the opportunity to play their favorite card games wherever and whenever. In the past decade, online casinos proved that even though technology changed the way we play casino games, it certainly couldn’t change which games we choose to play. For this reason, card games still remain players’ favorite and in this article, we’ll take a look at the best ones that you can find online.

Poker

When talking about casino card games, the first thing that pops into anyone’s mind is poker. There are different variations to this classic casino card game like Texas Hold’em, Draw Poker, Omaha, Stud and others. One of the main reasons why poker is so popular among players is because it requires skills like patience, observance and quick thinking. It’s said that playing poker can improve your skills in other areas of life. The main goal of the game is to have the best hand possible or, at least, make other players think that you do. Nowadays, you can play video poker or play poker against other people in virtual poker rooms. What is more, there are several online poker tournaments that you can play at if you think that your skills are unmatched.

Blackjack

Blackjack has been appealing to players worldwide simply because it’s very easy to play. All brand new online casinos in the UK that have an optimal gambling environment and amazing welcome bonuses include blackjack as part of their offer. Therefore, it’s the players’ task to find the best online casino that has the ultimate blackjack version and benefit from playing with the most trustworthy and reliable operators. Playing on top-notch gambling platforms will improve your gaming experience, and that can be of crucial importance for all blackjack fans who want to win.

The object of the game of blackjack is to beat the dealer with a better hand (21 or less) or allow the dealer to bust.  Winning at blackjack involves playing all hands optimally with a basic strategy.  In blackjack, it’s important you don’t go over 21 or you lose immediately.

The payouts can be particularly high when playing blackjack, especially if you opt to play progressive blackjack. With the right strategy, you can improve your chances of winning and this is why many players visit online casinos, so they can practice before playing for more serious sums of money. As with poker, there are several variations of this game and they include Spanish 21, Vegas Style, Pontoon, Single Deck and others.

Card GamesBaccarat

Online casinos and online card games have been gaining in popularity recently, simply because they are extremely accessible and easy to play. People don’t have to waste any more of their precious time to reach land-based gambling venues to play a game of cards or to organize private gatherings. Everything they need is right there, in the palm of their hands. This is how another card game that can seem a bit more complicated to play managed to survive the passing of time and remain popular with the new generation of gamblers. Baccarat is actually very easy to play since all the player needs is a total of nine or the closest to nine. In the game of baccarat, after the dealer deals the “coup”, the players have two options – they can either bet on themselves or on the dealer.1)In baccarat the “coup” is simply the round of play where there are three possible outcomes: “player” has the higher score, “banker” has the higher score or “tie”.  There are a few variations of this game to explore.

Conclusion

Card games have and always will be popular among casino fans worldwide. No matter which game you like to play, the entire experience will be thrilling, fun, and gripping. The possibility to win the prize is sometimes a less important aspect for card fans since they always come back to the table (or virtual table) for the unique feeling that each of these games has to offer.

Bio: Leslie Alexander is the Content Lead at the Gamblizard team as well as a dedicated writer of all topics related to the online casino industry. Leslie enjoys writing informative articles that provide guidance to all online players and fans of online casino titles. In her free time, Leslie loves playing different card games like poker and blackjack.

Image credits: Pixabay | Pixabay

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Footnotes

Footnotes
1In baccarat the “coup” is simply the round of play where there are three possible outcomes: “player” has the higher score, “banker” has the higher score or “tie”.  There are a few variations of this game to explore.

The Best Poker Books of All Time

Man Reading a Poker Book on BenchBy Giovanna Freire 

Just about every online poker site running today boasts a section of guides designed to help beginners and experienced players improve their card-playing skills. Most of these guides are incredibly useful, covering everything from poker hand values to when you should and shouldn’t bluff. 

But with all the goodwill in the world, these online poker sites can only go so far in helping players develop their poker-playing skills. Watching other players compete through TV programs, live tournaments on social media, and poker channels on streaming sites like Twitch can be a great resource to help players learn from others. Even then, there’s only so much you can learn from watching others play. 

For those that want to go much further and examine individual elements of the game, like the psychology of poker or individual strategies, the only option is to read some poker books.   Thankfully, many legendary poker players and learned academics have penned hundreds of pages of in-depth analysis about just about every area of poker. Here are some of the best.

Winning Low Limit Holdem by Lee JonesWinning Low Limit Hold’em

Released in 1994, Winning Low Limit Hold’em by Lee Jones is one of the most straightforward books on poker that has ever been written. This simplicity doesn’t mean it lacks details or isn’t that useful. It’s just that Jones has done a fantastic job of breaking down all of the elements of the game into easy-to-understand chunks.

Winning Low Limit Hold’em is an excellent book for beginners who want to brush up on tactics they can use when playing free online poker with friends or taking part in free-rolls and other tournaments.  It’s also great for more seasoned players that want to give themselves a refresher and maybe even pick up a thing or two. 

Hold'em Poker For Advanced PlayersHold’em Poker for Advanced Players

Whereas Lee Jones’ book focused on the more basic poker elements, Hold’em Poker for Advanced Players sits at the opposite end of the spectrum.  One of the many books written by Mason Malmuth and first published in 1988, this book breaks down several different scenarios to help the reader better understand what strategies are best to deploy in those situations. 

Malmuth’s book is even credited with coining various poker terms, including the semi-bluff, where you don’t have a high-value hand but could get your opponent to fold. 

The Theory of Poker by David SklanskyThe Theory of Poker

David Sklansky has written more books about poker than almost any other author. His 1994 title, The Theory of Poker, looks at broad concepts that can be applied to just about every variant of the game, rather than focusing on Texas hold’em as most other books are. 

The opening chapters look at the object of poker, mathematical expectations, your hourly rate, and the fundamentals of poker theory. From here, Sklansky builds on these foundations with chapters that examine each element of the game in detail, including antes, pot odds, deception, implied odds, and defending against Malmuth’s semi-bluff. There’s even a whole chapter on applying game theory in poker and how you can use it to create the optimum bluffing strategy.  In 2019, Sklansky revised this book to include no-limit, as the first book only had limit poker in mind.

Super System by Doyle BrunsonSuper System

Doyle Brunson is a legendary name in poker.  His classic book Super System was probably one of the best selling poker books of all time and probably influenced the big increase in interest in the game.  He managed to get some of the leading experts in the field to write chapters in the book, including David Sklansky, Mike Caro, Chip Reese, Bobby Baldwin and of course Doyle Brunson himself. 

Chapters included every major no-limit game played at the time: seven-card stud, seven-card low stud (razz), and hold’em. At the time, this book was considered by many professionals as one of the best books on poker ever written.

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Blackjack Versus Poker (Part 3)

Image by David Mark from PixabayBy Yancy Howard

In the past two articles we have addressed poker and blackjack as the two games are played in the casino.  Just as Caddy Blackjack differs from the way it’s played in the casino, so can the home game of poker.

The home or private game of poker is usually played as a “dealers choice” game where each player, in his turn to deal, may play whatever game he chooses.  There may be a couple of dozen games to choose from that are played in any given home game. 

There are distinct differences such as how the games are structured for betting purposes and for resolving who wins the pot.  In casino poker hands are resolved under the “cards speak” rule.  After all cards have been dealt and bets made, players merely turn their hand over and the dealer announces the winner or winners in the case of a split pot.

In the private game, however, lots of players tend to use the simultaneous declaration method to determine the winners of the hand.  That is, each player places his hands on the table.  on the count of three, everyone opens one hand.  If you show a chip in your hand this signifies you are going for the high half of the pot.  If you are going low, you open an empty hand.  If you choose to go both ways, you open both hands.  Now, there are other ways of declaring… this is just one example.  There are also several ways of resolving ties in the case of a player going both ways.  In some games you loose everything if you are tied or beaten either way, and others allow you to tie and three quarter an opponent.1)A very good discussion of these rules can be found in the High-Low Split chapter of Doyle Brunson’s Super System written by David Sklansky.

“Just as ‘Caddy Blackjack’ differs
from the way it’s played in the
casino, so can the home game of poker.”

Casino poker is played in a poker room where one specific game is played at each table.  The players at the table can’t choose to play a different game than the one being spread.  For instance if you are sitting at a table where 7 card stud is being dealt, and you wish to play some Omaha hi-lo 8 or better, you will have to find a table where that game is being spread. 

As you can see, once you seat yourself at the game of your choice in the casino you are going to play that game until you change tables.  In the private game you are going to be faced with playing different games every hand.  In my opinion you must be a much more rounded player than in the casino game if you expect to be a steady winner and supplement your income from poker.   There are many other things that you must concentrate on in the private game.  Some people play that 6,4,3,2,A2)Also known as a 6-4 low. is the best low and on the very next hand the dealer may announce 5,4,3,2,A3)Also known as the “wheel”. is the best low.

Now, many people will establish strict rules as far as what is the best low.  I say let them announce whatever they wish!  I can make a lot more money from players mistakes, because between hands as the dealer is announcing his game there are always people talking with one another or just not paying attention.  They are playing a hand thinking 6,4,3,2,A is the best when a wheel has been announced as the best low.  Instead of winning only the high side, I can scoop the whole pot by declaring both ways. 

I approach a poker game in a different manner than a lot of other folks do.  I hear people say they are there for a night out and a good time cause they like to play poker.  If they win fine.  I like that type of attitude, it’s just one that I don’t share.  To me, poker is hard work, as I try to play my best game at all times.  I am always looking to collect as many chips as I can squeeze out of each hand I am involved in.  I am always up to the challenge when I sit down in any game.  I’m there to make the money.  If I have a good time in the process, all the better!

I do play poker in casinos, but I prefer to play in private games because I usually play in games where I know everyone and their style of play.  I can find a game every night of the week if I want to play, and never have to drive more than 10 miles.

I play in a game every week that has been going on since 1981.  Except for myself and one other person, the faces at the table have changed many times.  To play in this game a person has to be recommended by one of the other players.  He is told before he comes to play that we are not looking for a one time player.  He has to be committed to setting that night aside each week to play the game.  He or she is also told of the financial risk involved so they aren’t surprised by coming with a short bankroll.  After the first night of play that person is voted in or out of the game by all of the other players.  This game won’t even accept a replacement if a person is ill.  They just play short handed.  It takes too much time to explain all the rules, etc., for the game to run smooth.

The game runs from 6pm to midnight.  No one comes late or leaves early.  Your bankroll is at risk for 6 hours in this game.  We start the deal with the same person each week, and at midnight we end with the person seated to the right of the person who dealt the first hand, so everyone deals the same number of hands. 

I don’t know why, but most people that play poker, men especially, tend to have big egos.  Most men think they are good poker players.  Just ask them!  I’ve seen new players in the game try to run over a couple of our female players only to be sucked-in, outwitted and trounced by superior play.  Some of the people in this game play three or four days a week, and have years of experience.

One play comes to mind.  The game is 5 card stud hi-low declare with one re-buy.  The game is 8 handed.  Six people call the first bet.  Cards are dealt, betting and raising brings it to 5 handed.  Again the cards are dealt.  A player with a queen showing bets and is raised by Mr. Ego, who shows a K,10,7 and is re-raised by our Lady who shows A,4,7.  Everyone calls.  On the last up card the player with the queen catches a blank.  Ditto for Mr. Ego, and the other two.  Our lady who is dealing catches another Ace.  She bets, everyone folds except Mr. Ego.  Now its time for the re-buy. He buys, throws away the 7 and catches another blank.  She throws her chips in for the re-buy, tosses one of the Aces and draws a 6!  He starts raving about why she threw a sure winner for half the pot away.  They declare.  They both declare high!  Mr. Ego turns over a king for a pair, as our Lady turns over an Ace, scoops the pot, and says “I’d much rather win the whole pot than half of it!!”  That’s right, she threw trips away.

[ Copyright © 1994 – 2020 All Rights Reserved ]
[ This article was originally published in the Fall 1994 issue of Blackjack Review magazine. ]

About Yancy Howard

Yancy Howard is the pseudonym for Dick Buechler – a successful poker player and blackjack card counter originally from Salem, New Jersey.  He comments that he learned about advantage play in the United States Marines where he was a Gunnery Sergeant during the Vietnam war era.  A former professional Heliarc (TIG) Welder and instructor, he now enjoys traveling the world in his retirement. 

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BLACKJACK VERSUS POKER (PART 1)
BLACKJACK VERSUS POKER (PART 2)

Footnotes

Footnotes
1A very good discussion of these rules can be found in the High-Low Split chapter of Doyle Brunson’s Super System written by David Sklansky.
2Also known as a 6-4 low.
3Also known as the “wheel”.

What’s it like to play poker in an online casino in Japan

Poker in JapanBy Tarun Reddy

After many years of struggle, Japan’s government finally gave up and chose to lift the casino ban, and the country will get many integrated casino resorts shortly, especially after the end of this pandemic.

Those who would like to play live poker have to turn to private games or even illegal gambling that are usually run by the mafia. And that’s not something you call a player-friendly setup. Players that are caught in these illegal situations face serious problems. These range from heave fines to even prison, if they’re repeat offenders.

So, for those who are learning how to play poker, it’s not easy. And dealing with everything that comes along such as variance or even bad beats is hard enough even at safe and totally regulated online casinos. When there’s the pressure of risks that come with illegal gambling then there are some serious consequences.

Online poker in Japan: It’s doable

The live poker situation in Japan isn’t an ideal environment for anyone. That’s why many people like visiting the website casinotop5.jp and decide to take it up seriously before turning online.

Technically, online poker is illegal in Japan as well because there aren’t any operators that can get a valid license in order to offer poker to the country’s players. However, the Japanese still have access to a wide range of offshore poker rooms.

The biggest problem that is faced by online players is depositing monies or making a withdrawal. There are a lot of banks in this country that deny gambling-related transactions, which makes things complicated, especially for players who need to move large amounts of money.

But nowadays, there are ways to get around these restrictions.

When it comes to constitutional implications, there are still issues. As far as we know, not a single person in Japan has been prosecuted for having fun playing online poker. The government, it seems for now, is willing to turn its head to the other side regarding this issue, which is natural.

However, you should consider that if you do play illegally there are always risks associated. So, make sure you know what you’re doing.

Tournaments are allowed but there are no cash prizes

Japan has nothing against poker. Their law prohibits gambling, which means staking real money to win real money in a game of chance. So, basically, there’s the possibility to organize a tournament, but winners can’t win cash from the tournament or from the organization itself or those who participate.

PokerStars found a very smart workaround for this issue with a Japan Tournament. It’s a series of tournaments that take place every year in Japan and everyone will have to pay real money to buy-in. But those who win are not given any money. Instead, players receive incredible full-packages (with buy-in, travel and also accommodation) for other tournaments that happen outside of Japan.

This is the reason why there’s a good number of Japanese poker players that play presently at other tournaments in Asia, such as the ACOP, APPT or the others. Tournaments like these that are offered during the Japan tournament give an opportunity to those who are seeking to start their gambling careers. In a lot of ways, there are some advantages regarding receiving these packages over receiving money because they make people keep playing.

What will happen in the future regarding poker in Japan

The new bill changed a lot in Japan. Although new casinos are still a few years away from opening doors, this is truly a breakthrough for this country. It gives Japanese citizens an opportunity to play their favorite casino games in a legal and also safe environment. However, it’s not certain of what this means for poker and poker players.

Having some poker rooms in highly populated regions of the country should create a big interest in this game, even for those who never played it before. If integrated resorts offer poker, this could lead to a huge increase in popularity.

It’s obvious that there’s no way to know if the casinos will actually invest in poker or not, so it’s something we all have to wait for. Since this game isn’t very popular in the country, there’s a chance that the focus will be on other games.

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Blackjack Versus Poker (Part 2)

AcesBy Yancy Howard 

In the last article we talked about choosing the right games at which to put your money at risk, discipline, good and bad players and how they affect your game, and thought processes that knowledgeable players use to maximize their expectation.

Game selection was the key factor discussed concerning your long term profits.  In the BJ example we talked about choosing a game that had the best rules, the deepest cut, the ability to get away with a large bet spread, and a fast robot, (that’s the dealer for those of you that didn’t read the last article) that hopefully makes a lot of mistakes. 

Now, say you find this game and start exploiting it.  Once you start taking a fair amount of checks from the dealers chip tray, what happens?  All of a sudden you seem to have taken on a burst of popularity.  The floorman comes over to your table.  First, he may introduce himself and ask you a few questions.  This usually depends on the size of your bets, but you can be sure that he will be particularly interested in your bet spread, and your reaction to his being there. 

In our poker example, if you remember, we were looking to get in a game with lots of technically weak, loose players that call a lot.  For the time being though, we are going to leave out the maniac who is constantly raising, sometimes with the “nuts” and sometimes with nothing.  We’ll deal with him later.

Again, you start amassing a lot of checks.  Do you think for a minute that the casino is going to send someone over to monitor your play?  Not unless they have a reason to believe you are cheating.  Because you are not in a position to hurt their bottom line, they have no reason to feel threatened.

“There aren’t many situations where
you are going to gain anything
by toking the poker Robot.”

Now back to the Robot situation.  There are different types of Robots.  Good ones, bad ones, fast ones, slow ones, honest ones, dishonest ones, careless ones, and some that can be manipulated through tokes to cut off less cards, raising your overall expectation, as long as you don’t toke excessively. 

There aren’t many situations where you are going to gain anything by toking the poker Robot.  I don’t mean that you shouldn’t toke after winning a pot, because that’s expected. 

Having a good act is a very important part of your BJ playing technique.  If you are betting big money, you have to make them think that you are anything but a knowledgeable player.  This is of the utmost importance if you are playing in a single deck game.  The count goes up and down so quickly that your method of disguise, and how good it is, will determine your longevity. 

The act in the game of poker is not important as far as the casino is concerned, because again, you are no threat to them.  Any of your Oscar award winning performances are directed toward your opponents rather than the house.  If you are new to the poker scene, one bit of advice would be to always act in the same manner in each and every situation.  If you have to take a second or two to figure the odds of a drawing hand, do the same thing when you already have the NUTS.  Just don’t hold up the game.  Don’t reach for your chips until the person to your right has concluded his transaction.  If you are a smoker, you’d do well to light up when you are out of the pot, rather than when involved.  We’ll get into this later when we talk about TELLS.

“Don’t reach for your chips until
the person to your right
has concluded his transaction.”

In the first article I stated that you had to play BJ like a machine making all of the correct strategy decisions straight from memory.  After you have mastered the counting system that you have chosen, it is then time for you to add the refinements that will buy you playing time.  Remember, you can only win big money by betting big money.  Betting big money is going to draw attention.  How you act while your play is being scrutinized by the Floorman or the Pit Boss determines whether the welcome mat is withdrawn or not.

Here is a crazy act1)Editor note: The point of this example is that “acting” is a very desirable skill at blackjack and not quite as important in poker. that will buy you a lot of playing time at the BJ tables.  Buy yourself a pair of dark glasses and a cane.  Get your girlfriend or wife to accompany you to the casino as your guide.  Take hold of her arm and have her lead you to the shoe game of your choice where all the cards are dealt up.  Don’t be looking around.  Stare straight ahead.  After all, you’re BLIND!  Have her seat you at the center of an empty table so you can get some heads-up play.  Greet the Robot cordially and explain that you are blind and that your wife is going to help you play by telling you what your cards are.  Tell the Robot that you want all the same color chips, cause you won’t know the difference.  Now this is something that you have to practice at home, and put a lot of thought into.  You can’t be making mistakes like taking the cut card from the dealer when he offers it to cut the pack cause you can’t see him offering it.  You’re BLIND!  You must stare straight ahead at all times.

Blackjack Eye ChartAfter the hand is dealt, your wife tells you what your two card total is.  You of course can see everything that is going on, while keeping the count, making the proper strategy decisions, and sizing your bets.  Remember, don’t move your head when looking down to pick-up your chips for the next bet.  Feel for them a little.  Maybe knock a stack or two over,  It won’t matter, their all the same color, remember? 

What really makes this whole thing work is, your wife tells you what your cards are, the total only, but never tells you what the Robot’s UP card is!  You can, and should, from time to time ask what the UP card is.  If you get a snapper or take insurance requiring odd color chips, ask the Robot or your wife to put the odd colors in a separate stack to the side of the rest of your chips.  It works best if you ask the Robot for help rather than your wife.  Act like you are having a good time.  Be a sport and put out a small toke for the dealer if you’ve just won a big bet.  Remember, you can move your eyes all you want.  Just don’t move your head!  Let your wife take your winnings from the betting circle, but you make the bet.  Here is a good way to really jump your bet.  Say you just won a hand and the count is high, just slide another stack toward the betting circle.  Put it near the circle, not quite inside.  The Robot will move it inside for you and place it on top of your original bet plus what you’ve just won.  Remember, you’re BLIND! 

“Being blind or not, any good size
action is going to draw attention.”

Being blind or not, any good size action is going to draw attention.  Someone from the pit may come over to introduce themselves.  Welcome them!  Act happy.  Move your head in the direction toward where the voice is coming from.  They’ll tell you that they will be glad to assist you in any way.  Just say that your wife is your constant companion since you lost your sight from complications of diabetes.  If they compliment your game, tell them that you used to love to play BJ before you lost your sight and you are sorry for being a little slow.  Be humble, but very nice.  Tell them you appreciate how helpful the dealer is. 

Needless to say this won’t work in the poker room, but it will at the BJ tables.  After all, how many blind blackjack players do you know that can count?

[ Copyright © 1994 – 2020 All Rights Reserved ]
[ This article was originally published in the Summer 1994 issue of Blackjack Review magazine. ]

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BLACKJACK VERSUS POKER (PART 1)
BLACKJACK VERSUS POKER (PART 3)

Footnotes

Footnotes
1Editor note: The point of this example is that “acting” is a very desirable skill at blackjack and not quite as important in poker.

Blackjack Versus Poker (Part 1)

Blackjack Versus PokerBy Yancy Howard

Anyone knowledgeable of casino games knows that the two games that can be beaten consistently are blackjack and poker. The reason being, that if you play other games that have a negative expectation, you will go broke in the long run. This is not to say you can’t have a short run of luck and make a profit at any game where the house has an edge. Notice the key word here is luck, and luck is what you’ll need to make a score no matter how large or small, if the house has an edge.

Although these two games theoretically can show long term profits, careful game selection techniques must be adhered to in either case. Just because you are good card counter, doesn’t mean you are going to have that 1% to 1.5% advantage in all blackjack games. Neither does it mean you will come out ahead in any poker game just because you are a good poker player. There are many factors that come into play that control winning and losing and the most control you have is choosing the proper game to put your money at risk! No matter what you gain from this article, that last sentence is the most important.

There are many factors that come into play
that control winning and losing and the most
control you have is choosing the proper
game to put your money at risk!

Aside from having to put on a good act while playing blackjack for high stakes, if you are good enough to win, you have to play the game like a machine. You are essentially a robot while keeping the count, making the proper strategy decisions, sizing your bets correctly and ensuring the payoff is correct.

Poker, on the other hand, is not played like a machine. Yes, you have to be able to keep track of the cards that have been folded and the ones that are still out, so you know what your hand is worth. In blackjack you know at all times what your hand is worth. All you have to do is look in the betting circle. It’s worth either 1/2, even money, 1 1/2 times, double, or nothing if you lose, and you still have what is in the circle if you push. With a poker hand, you either lose what you have invested in the pot, possibly split some percentage of it or win it all.

Now, winning the entire pot is much different because the contents of the pot is going to be worth what you are able to sell your hand for. You are collecting money from all of the players that are in the pot after all the cards are turned over. In blackjack you are playing against the dealer, thus, you take no money from the other players. It makes no difference how good or bad the other players are.

Both (games) take a lot of time to master,
and one of the problems is that you
can waste much of your time by studying
the wrong material, and lose a lot of money
before you get your hands on the right material.

Unlike blackjack, one of the problems in poker is that it takes so long to become proficient at any one game because many of them are so complex, and if you are playing in a dealers choice home game, you have to be proficient in more than one game. Once you know the game of blackjack, your decisions are cut and dry for the type of counting system you use. Poker requires much more thought. In many cases, deep thought! You may know your counting system well enough to joke with the other players at the table, chat with the dealer, and still make the proper decisions at the blackjack table. In a poker hand, figuring pot odds, effective odds, implied odds, whether to check, call, bet, fold, check raise, raise or re-raise isn’t found on some chart in any book for all situations.

Discipline is one of the keys in both games. Knowing when, and how much, or how little to bet is a drastic decision. By little, I sometimes mean, no bet at all. For instance, say you are in a poker game with a few weak players and you have a poor hand. Would you try to steal the pot by raising? Of course not, no more than you would make a big bet at the blackjack table in a high negative count. Now, the blackjack example is concrete. (Barring the possibility that you were an excellent shuffle tracker and were coming up on a large clump of 10-value cards.)

Poker requires much more thought.
In many cases, deep thought!

The poker example, however, is not concrete. If you were in a very tight game with good solid players, certainly there would be times that you would attempt to steal the pot. Everyone knows that you just don’t try to bluff poor players in a poker game, as some of them will surely call you. As you can see, poker lends itself to a lot more maneuvering by the solid player. The blackjack dealer is nothing more than a mechanized dealing device, as he is bound by a given set of rules, so it’s robot vs robot.

In selecting a blackjack game you look for the best rules, the deepest cut, the fastest dealer that makes mistakes, and the largest bet spread you can get away with. In poker you look for a game with lots of weak, loose players that play like maniacs and call lots of bets. There are many other things that you look for in both games, that we will get into in another article.

I thoroughly enjoy both games, and have found each to be very rewarding. Both take a lot of time to master, and one of the problems is that you can waste much of your time by studying the wrong material, and lose a lot of money before you get your hands on the right material.

Any text or article written by the following authors in their respective fields was the best information you could purchase in the 1990s. Today, there are many more new rising stars which I will leave you to discover.

POKER

  • Sklansky
  • Malmuth
  • Caro
  • Brunson
  • Zee

BLACKJACK

  • Wong
  • Thorp
  • Griffin
  • Snyder
  • Uston
  • Malmuth
  • Roginski
  • Revere
  • Dalton
  • Braun
  • Schlesinger
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[ This article was originally published in the Spring 1994 issue of Blackjack Review magazine. ]

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BLACKJACK VERSUS POKER (PART 2)
BLACKJACK VERSUS POKER (PART 3)

The Mind in Card Games

Why Blackjack and Poker are More Similar Than You Know


by Sam Williams

Stu Ungar 1997 WSOPWhile blackjack and poker may look like two completely different games, there are many similarities between the two. Not only are both games grounded in mathematics and odds, but they also require players to learn on the job through experience. They can both be highly exhilarating, and some players would even attest that the attributes picked up in either game can be transferred to the other.

A number of famous blackjack players, including members of the MIT team from Bringing Down the House, have gone on to achieve success in poker. Well known poker players, such as Stu Ungar and Andy Bloch, have also been renowned for their blackjack skills.


Hossein Ensan played his pocket Kings well to win the 2019 WSOP Main Event

High Level of Competition

To succeed in either blackjack or poker, players need to have a competitive edge and a strong desire to win. In blackjack, players only face off against a dealer. But when the stakes are high and the casino employee is the one person standing in the way of victory, players need to use their will and determination to bring that person down. This could be compared to heads-up play in poker, which comes about at the end of a tournament when everyone else has been eliminated.

In a huge poker competition like the World Series of Poker, a player would have to get the better of hundreds of others to make it to the final table against the remaining survivors. In 2019 when Hossein Ensan won the Main Event, there were 8,569 entrants to start with. Obviously, the Iranian-German player didn’t need to beat every single one of these people, but he did need to stay in the game while the numbers were whittled down.

When it got to the final stages of the competition, Ensan’s experience became more like a blackjack game. The tournament, which tests players’ endurance as well as their poker skills, came down to Ensan against Dario Sammartino in the final stages. This type of heads-up game will appeal to blackjack players who are used to taking on a single opponent in a battle of wits.

There are some differences, however. In blackjack, players must get the best hand in order to win. But in heads-up poker, players usually try to bet big and steal the huge blinds in each hand, regardless of what cards they are holding. Indeed, in this type of play, it rarely comes down to a flop. In the final hand, Sammartino admitted that his bluff didn’t pay off and that Ensan had outplayed him. The 2019 champion had a pair of kings while the Italian was left with a busted straight. Sammartino took a chance and failed, similar to a blackjack player opting to hit and then going bust.

Basic Skills are the same in Both Games

When you think about poker and blackjack on a basic level, a lot of the same skills are required in both games. To be able to play either, at least a rudimentary knowledge of numeracy is essential. In blackjack, it is crucial as players are constantly calculating their hand’s total value and working out which card would bust them. In poker, advanced players need to calculate their pot odds to determine whether to call or bet. They can also use mathematics to count their outs. This refers to the cards they need to potentially make a winning hand.

Interpersonal skills are quite important in blackjack, as players need to interact with dealers regularly. They are even more essential in poker, as conversation can often be used as a way to garner information about someone’s hand. Players need to be expert socializers who can spot small psychological cues such as a slight change in the tone of an opponent’s voice. Daniel Negreanu is well known for being highly adept at this.

Another common attribute for poker and blackjack players is discipline. They need to be able to endure runs of bad luck without changing their strategy. For example, a blackjack player may be sweating as they play a Martingale technique or keep losing in a high plus count and keep losing. The stakes are getting higher each time, but they need to remember that if they do eventually win, their losses will be cancelled out. In poker, bad beats often cause players to go on tilt. Less experienced players can let this sort of emotion lead them into bad decisions going forward.

Stu Ungar was highly gifted at poker, blackjack, and gin rummy

Players can Train for Both Games by Limiting Active Learning

In both blackjack and poker, there is a vast difference between a beginner player and an expert. The best players in the business possess a number of abilities that they have refined over time in order to maximize their chances of winning. If the games were simply about luck, how could you explain why Ungar was considered to be among the best in the world during his time as a player? In addition to being highly capable in those card games, the three-time WSOP winner was also the greatest gin-rummy player in the world.

It is true that players can train their brains in order to be better than average at card games. But, according to poker psychologist Jared Tendler, Texas Hold’em and Omaha players shouldn’t act as though they are cramming for a test by filling their heads with more information that they can use. Poker mental strategy is about reviewing hands and concepts that you already know and being clear about what you want to improve on. This is referred to as limiting active learning, making sure that you work directly on the essentials. This advice can also be applied to blackjack.

In blackjack and poker, players are able to learn from the mistakes they have made in the past. By failing in one game, they can assess what went wrong and work on ways to do it differently in the next game. So, training for games shouldn’t be about cramming with as much knowledge as possible, but about reviewing and analyzing past experiences.

Blackjack players who want to improve their skills and get beyond basic strategy could try their hand at poker and may find that they are already quite good at it. The endurance and competitiveness that dominates Texas Hold’em could then be transferable to the blackjack table.

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Sydney Australia’s Star City Casino

Spent an afternoon at Sydney Australia’s Star City Casino this week. 

This is a huge casino with lots of blackjack tables.  However, they are not worth playing as they all use automatic shufflers.  Minimum bets that I saw started at $20 Australian which is about $15 US.  I did not check the high-pit areas which may or may not have regularly dealt blackjack. 

They also have a large poker room which I played a few hours in.  Unfortunately, their rake is awful.  I played in a small  2/3 No Limit Holdem game where there is a time rake AND and regular pot rake.  Charge is $5 / hour plus 10% up to $10 rake.  What was interesting is the dealer uses a single deck plastic box to deal the cards from.  I was told the dealer can deal faster and have both hands free at all times.  I left with a win for the session.

I also played for 30 minutes at the craps table and had another small session win.  Interesting to note that the don’t pass/come bars deuces.  In the USA, the don’t pass/come  bars 12.  No difference in the odds.

My Wife and I spent 6 days in Sydney and we also took a 10 day Celebrity Solstice cruise around New Zealand.    Ironically, the blackjack games on the cruise ship were better then the games in Sydney.  Of course, the cruise ship has their token single deck game with 6:5 rules, but their shoe games were decent: $10/$25 min tables, 8DK, double any, H17, with 1.5 – 2 decks cut off.  Occasionally, a dealer would cut off only 1 deck.

Michael Dalton

PS – Here is a photo of the single-deck shoe that poker dealers use in the Sydney, Australia poker room:

Single Deck Shoe

Monte Carlo Poker Room Closure

Just received this email from the Monte Carlo Poker Room:

Michael,

In the early morning hours of April 25th, 2017, the Monte Carlo Poker Room will be closing its doors.  We thank you very much for your patronage and it was our privilege to serve you over the last 20 years. 

Effective April 1st, 2017, we will permanently discontinue all promotional rakes and payouts.  The promotional pool will be redistributed via a High Hand promotion starting on April 3rd, 2017 through April 12th, 2017.

All comps may still be redeemed at the Monte Carlo Poker Room through April 23th, 2017.  After that, all comp redemptions will be completed at the Monte Carlo M life® Rewards Desk through December 31st, 2017. The expiration date of all comps will continue to follow the normal comp policy. However, after December 31st, 2017, all unused comps will expire regardless of the expiration date.

Our sister properties at Aria, Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Mirage and Excalibur will welcome you with open arms and be happy to continue the service that you have experienced here over the years.  We thank you very much and bid you a fond farewell.

If you have any questions, please contact us at 702.730.7780

Sincerely,

The Monte Carlo Poker Room


Looks like it is a sign of the times.  This poker room was very small and only catered to low limit players.