Poker players make up a rather special group in the gambling world. Many of them are well aware of what gambling is all about and tend to steer clear of casino games. The reason is quite simple. Unlike poker, where they can obtain an edge over the competition, all other games in the casino are constructed in a way that the house (casino) always wins in the long run. Simply put, all games, from roulette to slots, have a built-in house edge, which guarantees that the casino always comes out ahead.
Despite knowing all this, it is quite common to see poker players, even some very good ones, seated at blackjack tables. Even those who stay away from all other games will occasionally dabble with blackjack and this is no coincidence. In fact, there are several reasons why blackjack is similar to poker, as you can see here, and why blackjack – as opposed to other casino games – seems to attract poker players.
1. Blackjack Requires a Certain Degree of Skill
The number one reason why poker players are drawn to blackjack is the fact that this isn’t another mindless table game. When you play blackjack, your decisions matter a lot. If you’re playing according to perfect strategy and don’t deviate from it at any point, the house edge is reduced to just around 0.5%. On the other hand, if you have no idea what you are doing and just make random decisions, the house could have an edge of almost 20%.
So, there is an element of challenge to the game. Most poker players enjoy being challenged and actually having to use their brains, even when having fun. Games like roulette just don’t have this dimension – you can’t really go wrong betting any number or section of the wheel as you have absolutely no control over where the ball will land next.
2. Blackjack Games Often Have a Nice Social Setting
Although we’re starting to forget about it with new generations of poker players who honed their skills glued to their screens, many live poker players actually enjoy the table banter and interaction. For some, it is actually one of the main reasons for playing, apart from the obvious one of trying to win money. Interacting with others at the table isn’t all about gathering information – it can also just be fun.
Blackjack is similar in this regard. If you sit down with the right crowd you can have some good laughs along the way, especially when the shoe is favorable. It is the kind of friendly setting that you won’t find at other games. Roulette tables are often too crowded, craps is just too noisy, etc. With blackjack, you can sit and play and have a bit of fun or even a nice conversation with a fellow player; you’re comrades, just trying to beat the casino at its own game.
3. The Best Can Actually Beat Blackjack
Going back to the challenge aspect, blackjack is the only game out there that you can actually beat. It is very hard, especially in this day and age, but that’s what makes it interesting and what attracts many poker players, who are simply competitive by nature. The game is there and it can be beaten – so they want to try and beat it.
Of course, achieving this goal requires more than just knowing and always playing the perfect strategy. You can only gain an edge over the house by counting cards – a skill that isn’t all that difficult in theory but is very hard to implement in a real casino setting with all the distractions and preventive measures put in place by the staff. Plus, casinos are always on the lookout for card counters and reserve the right to not offer the game to such players (i.e., why would they willingly allow themselves to be losing, right?).
But, it can be done, and some players are drawn to the challenge. The idea of beating the house on their own turf is simply too attractive. Then, there is also the rush of trying to do it without being caught and asked to leave. All of these are elements of cunning that you just can’t fully utilize in other casino games.
Conclusion: The Next Best Thing?
So, blackjack may not be poker and it may be a game with a house edge, but for poker players, it has enough similar elements to the game they love so much. With a lot of skill involved and an actual possibility (however remote) of actually being a long-term winner, it ticks many boxes for poker lovers. That’s why there are so many poker players flocking to blackjack tables to pass some time and have some fun.