Poker and blackjack differ in gameplay, odds, house edge, and rules. We’ll explore some of the key features of both games below.
What Is Poker?
Poker is a card game where players place bets on whether they have the best hand and aim to be the last player standing. There are several poker variations where the objective may differ. However, the most popular include; Omaha, Texas Hold’Em, 7-Card Stud, High/Low Chicago, 5-Card Draw, and Follow the Queen.
Poker utilises skills like predicting odds, reading people, and maintaining emotions while bluffing. While having the best hand is how to win the showdown, there are other ways of winning.
Players can also bluff if they don’t have a strong hand in an effort to get others to fold (drop out). If all other players drop out, then the player that won doesn’t have to reveal their cards.
How To Play Poker
The game is played using a standard 52-card deck, but more may be added depending on how many players are in the game. You can form different hands with the cards, with each hand with its ranking. For example:
- A 10-J-Q-K-A in one suit is a royal flush, i.e., the highest-ranking hand.
- A straight flush consists of 5 sequential cards in the same suit.
- 4-of-a-kind is a hand where there are 4 matching rank cards of different suits plus a 5th card of any rank.
- A full house would be if you have 3 cards of the same rank and the other 2 cards are matching rank. Essentially a hand that contains a 3-of-a-kind and a pair.
- A flush consists of 5 cards of a matching suit.
- A straight has 5 cards of consecutive values regardless of suits.
- A 3-of-a-kind is when you have 3 cards of the same rank and two non-matching cards.
- A 2 pair is a hand that contains two different pairs and a random non-matching card. E.g. J-J-6-6-5 or 9-9-3-3-K
- Pair is a hand containing 2 cards of a matching rank and 3 non-matching cards.
- A high card is the lowest-ranking hand. This simply goes off the highest-ranking card in the hand.
The players take turns placing bets to remain in the game. Players must either call (match) the current bet amount or they can raise it. At the end, if there are two players left, then they have a showdown where they reveal their cards. The best hand wins.
What Is Blackjack?
Blackjack is a card game whose objective is to achieve a hand closest to 21 points and never over. You play against the dealer, so your hand must end up closer to 21 than theirs. The suits don’t matter in blackjack. Instead, we consider the card ranks as follows:
- Cards 2 to 10 are face value cards, e.g., 3 is three, and 8 is eight.
- K, J, & Q count as 10 points each.
- Aces can count as 1 or 11.
How to Play Blackjack
The players buy chips and place a wager. Multiple players might be at the table, but ultimately, it’s always you vs the dealer.
The dealer deals cards to each player in a clockwise motion. First, they give one card face-up to each player and have one face-down for themselves. Next, they deal another card face-up to each player and one face-up card for themselves. So, now each player has two face-up cards, while the dealer has one face-up card and one face-down card.
Players decide how to play the hand by gesturing. However, if you play blackjack online, you can click the icon on the screen. Then, add the values of your first two cards. For example, if you have a 10 and an Ace and the dealer doesn’t, you have hit blackjack and won the round. The game pays out at 3:2 for a winning score.
However, if you don’t land blackjack, you must decide between the following options:
- Hitting - receiving an additional card.
- Standing - ending your turn with your hand as it is.
- Doubling down - double your wager, receive just one additional card and end your turn.
- Splitting - if your starting hand is a pair, you can split them into two separate hands, and the dealer draws two more cards. You need to place a wager on the newly-formed hand, and it has to be equal to your original wager.
- Surrendering - this option is only available in some blackjack games. You can fold after receiving your initial hand, and instead of losing your total bet, you only forfeit half of your wager.
Which Game Has Better Odds?
Odds measure the probability of specific outcomes. Of course, each game has different odds, including poker and blackjack.
Poker pits you against other players instead of the house. So, the game odds can change depending on the players you find at the table. For example, a weaker table with less-experienced players would put an experienced player at higher odds of winning. The casino does not participate in a poker game beyond shuffling and dealing cards. They only take a rake as a cut.
Blackjack, on the other hand, has you playing against the house. So, the blackjack game earns the casino profit via the house edge. Generally, blackjack has a house edge from 0.5% to 2%, depending on the blackjack variation you play and whether you use basic blackjack strategy.
Most players believe playing casino games with better odds is better since they represent higher chances of winning. However, they are still games of chance, so nothing is guaranteed.
When looking at blackjack and poker odds, many players tend to favour blackjack. This is because blackjack has more predictability than poker. For example, you play against the house, and the house edge is fixed. So, you can predict how much you’re likely to lose after playing for a long time. This isn’t possible in poker.
In addition, you play against the dealer in blackjack. You already know the dealer’s role because they follow a set of rules. Poker, on the other hand, is unpredictable because players can dictate the terms and shift the flow of the game unexpectedly.
Is Blackjack Harder Than Poker?
The two games are very different, so it is difficult to compare. However, blackjack is beloved for its straightforward premise: add up your cards’ values, and if you are closer to 21 than the dealer without going over, then you win.
Poker can be more unpredictable since you are playing against players that can have different levels of experience.
Ultimately, both games are games of chance that require skill to some extent.
Poker vs Blackjack - Which Is Better?
This is down to personal preference. For example, poker can vary more because different players can play differently, so each time you sit at a poker table is very different to each time you sit at a blackjack table. Blackjack, or 21, has set rules and predetermined actions, while poker can be more unpredictable since you are playing against players.
Some players might enjoy blackjack for its fast pace, or they enjoy playing against the dealer. Others might prefer poker because they like having an edge over fellow players.
Nevertheless, both games are available to play online at Wizard Slots.
*All values (Bet Levels, Maximum Wins etc.) mentioned in relation to these games are subject to change at any time.