Leaving poker behind: how to cross the gaming divide

Leaving poker behind: how to cross the gaming divide

As a poker player, the thought of anteing up on something different might fill you with dread. However, in the middle of a downswing or a bout of tilt, there’s nothing wrong with using your skills in a different way. Indeed, the old saying that a “change is as good as a break” is essentially what we’re getting at here. Because statistical variance can affect us all, no matter who much like Phil Ivey we are, there are times when trying something new can be beneficial.

For most, the obvious game to transition to during a poker crisis is blackjack. Although the luck element is higher, there’s still plenty of scope for skill to determine your fate. By understanding some simple concepts, finding the right place to play and managing your money properly, you can actually turn a profit at the blackjack table. Naturally, as in poker, nothing in guaranteed in this arena. However, if you’re thinking of a switch, here are some tips to help you get off on the right foot:

Find the Right Game

In essence, this tip really means finding the right casino that offers the right selection of games. If you’re sizing up a new proposition, read the reviews carefully to see the quantity and quality of blackjack variants it offers. For example, this LeoVegas review notes the 12 different variants of blackjack, including live dealer options, included at the online casino. In comparative terms, that’s a solid selection.

Once you’ve established that the site has enough options, you have to pick the right one. In general, the fewer bonus options, side bets and decks in play, the better. Basically, if you can find a straight game with a single deck, you have a better chance of winning. The reason for this is that the you have a better chance of tracking the cards and getting a feel for what’s going to come out next. Of course, there are also some negatives to single-deck games, especially because there are fewer high-value cards to help you make scores of 20/21.

Watch the dealer

Watch the Dealer

Once you’ve found a site and game, the most important skill you can develop in blackjack is watching the dealer. Fortunately, if you’re a solid poker player, this will come naturally to you. The reason you watch the dealer is simple: you want to know whether they’re weak or strong. Just as you’ll try to read an opponent at the poker table and adjust your strategy based on their apparent strength, you need to do the same in blackjack.

For example, if the dealer is holding a 4 and you have 14, what’s the best play? In this instance, you both have weak hands and the chances of either of you going bust are fairly high. However, the dealer is forced to draw to at least 17 and you’re not. So, in this situation, you’d stand and put the pressure on the dealer. In contrast, if the dealer was strong (i.e. showing a high-value card), you may have to take more chances than usual.

Basically, you need to assess the strength of the dealer when you play. This, in reality, is what makes blackjack a great alternative for poker players. Although the reading process is slightly different, the concept of optimizing your play based on external variables is virtually identical.

Manage Your Money

The final thing you need to consider when you switch from poker to blackjack is the amount you’re spending. You wouldn’t jump into a $5/$10 cash game with $400 in your bankroll, just as you wouldn’t be betting $30 per hand if you only had $300. As a general rule, you should stake no more than 1% of your bankroll on a single hand. In fact, it should really be less than that if you want to have a positive long-term expectation.

As we’ve said, wins are never certain in blackjack. However, if you can stack the options in your favor in the ways we’ve shown you, it’s certainly a game you can enjoy and, potentially, profit from when you need a break from poker.

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