4 Ways Blackjack Can Improve Your Poker Skills
If you ask the man on the street to name you any two card games from the casino, no doubt poker and blackjack would be amongst the most common. They've been the subject of movies, they've exploded on the internet with a huge industry that is sustained by them, and most people have played them at one point or another. There's some familiarity, and also some mystery. It's easy to see the enjoyment in both, but when you see the high rollers winning huge hands or collecting massive pots (think Phil Ivey's $19 million profit or Phil
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Galfond's $10 million earnings), they still have that level of prestige that surpasses playing for a few coins in your friend's living room. Going from small stakes to table limits, or tiny pots to millions, seems like a unachievable feat. However, you can help to accelerate that progression by taking tips from what you already know, and we'll look here at how blackjack can positively impact your poker game. It seems far-fetched given how different the gameplay is for each one. Blackjack's fast-paced, quick and clear decision-making make it seems worlds apart from the methodical, complex back-and-forth on the poker table, but a lot of it is in the mentality, so here's what can crossover to help boost your progress.
A Thirst for Knowledge
If you're starting out in blackjack, it's worthwhile getting to grips with the game properly. You should know your probabilities of winning and losing, what choices are available to you, and how to utilize them. If you jump in to cash games and bigger hands without doing your homework, you are missing a key element. Knowledge. It is power after all. The reason it's good to start with blackjack for this is because there's ultimately much less to learn and much less room for manoeuvre, so you can pick things up and refine them much quicker. It gets you into the learning and applying mode much quicker. Then, when you have found the ways in which you absorb and apply the information the best, you can start to tackle the mountain of poker literature already armed - don't forget Phil Hellmuth's 2017 autobiography, aptly named Poker Brat.
How Blackjack Can Improve Your
flows of the game and you can not be affected. You keep your frustrations to yourself and the next hand is dealt. Maintaining that composure at the start is hard, but you get better at it. When it becomes necessary to have your 'poker face', it's easy. The other players can't read you and that's to your benefit, giving nothing away.
Dealing with Losses
As mentioned previously, you will lose hands. If you play enough blackjack, given the rapid pace of the game, you will lose lots of hands. Again, it is the natural flow of the gameplay. If it's possible to win 10 hands in a row, then the reverse is also true. No matter what has happened in the previous hand, you have to stick to the strategy and play on reason, not emotion. This is extremely beneficial when it comes to poker. If you've lost a hand and the chips are down, it's easy to make a rash decision. All of a sudden the pot is empty. Play on as if the loss never happened, stay off tilt by keeping to what you know is right, and the rewards will come. Losing often whilst winning often will help to soften the blow, then you'll get to the point where it doesn't even matter. As offered up by TJ Cloutier, "Sometimes you just have to take your medicine."
Knowing when to 'Double Down'
In blackjack rules, doubling down is a crucial element. Although the terminology is different, a raise in poker is a similar move. Effectively in both scenarios, you're backing yourself more so than the opponent - the house or the other players - given what you know about the state of play. When you're trying to reach the sought-after 21, things are a little simpler because you know the aim of playing blackjack and you know the position the dealer is starting from, therefore you can judge whether doubling down and upping your stakes is the right thing to do. Like poker, when playing blackjack it's a gut feeling, especially when your hands at 16, what do you do? You just have to know when the time is right and hope the cards play in your favor. Getting used to doing that will make the raises in your poker game much more familar and comfortable. You won't know anybody else's hand, but you will know when to back yourself. The thought of dropping more money onto the table won't be as daunting, and you get to maximize your winning hands with some self-confidence.
So it Works?
Absolutely. From two games at opposite ends of the spectrum, there are many key elements that can be shared from one to the other. Starting out in blackjack can help to raise your poker game. It gives you a stronger mental fortitude and a shortcut to better play. Skill in knowing the hands and the strategy is obviously vital, but there are also other factors to be concerned with.
Good Luck at the Tables!
Keeping Your Cool
You're dealt a hand. It looks good. You think your luck is in when your Ace goes against the dealer's 4. Chances are on your side, especially when the 9 comes in. The dealer hits. 7, then 10. From nowhere, a weak-looking draw has hit the 21 and you're left wondering what went wrong. It happens, that's how the cards fall sometimes. At first you might get frustrated, but the more it happens, the more you realize it's part of the natural ebbs and
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