Out of all the classic card games out there, poker remains the pinnacle of the concept of ‘easy to learn, difficult to master’. For decades, players have studied, researched and practiced endlessly in the hope of reaching the top of the poker world, although the best way to learn has always been up for heavy debate.
Something often overlooked in the poker world is the wide array of single-player poker games out there. Below, we look at exactly how good those games are for learning how to play full poker games.
What Types of Solo Poker Are There?
The best way to think of the core concept of solo poker is as something much closer to blackjack than regular poker. As the name implies, solo poker is played without other players involved and is usually a straight contest between the player and the dealer.
The rules are usually the same as the original with both the player and dealer getting a hand in the style of Texas Hold’em or stud poker, although other variants also get solo versions. Depending on the exact variant used, the player may get chances to raise or fold but in the simplest versions, it is a straight five-card comparison in the blackjack fashion. Other versions, like three-card poker or video poker variants, don’t even feature a dealer, but instead, give odds and fixed payouts like slot games of forming good combinations.
You aren’t likely to find many solo poker games in physical casinos as they often aren’t as popular as full poker games, although if you go to review sites like Vegas Slots Online you can find dozens of poker-based titles of all varieties from several different developers. The only type of solo poker that you may see in physical casinos would be three-card poker but, given that it works far more like blackjack than other poker variants, there is some debate as to whether it really counts as poker at all.
What Are the Biggest Differences to Full Poker?
Put simply, having other players involved is what makes poker a far more strategic and intriguing game when compared with all others. Losing that human element completely changes the game, as you lose the psychology and pattern reading from competitors that are a core feature. We’ve mentioned before at Cardplayer Lifestyle that even things like changing the seating order can have subtle but significant effects on how a round of poker is played, so the loss of players entirely is massive.
Aside from this, the concepts of raising, calling, and folding get completely changed. Some solo poker games do have features that are called raise or fold but these are simple concepts based entirely on the player’s own hand. Full poker games not only consider your own hand but the hands and the behaviour of all other players around you. Full poker also has multiple betting rounds in most cases where solo poker is very often limited to a single one.
So Does Solo Poker Have Any Learning Value?
It may not be very useful for learning the more advanced parts of poker that involve psychology and people-reading, but solo poker does have value for those just starting out. New players are likely to go to sites like Bicycle Cards to learn the absolute fundamentals of the game but these guides are no substitute for actual playing, in the same way that reading about chess is very different from being in a game.
Most solo games do still use the same basic features such as the 52-card deck, the hierarchy of winning hands, and some form of the betting system. Given that poker comes down to predicting the draw of the next card at its heart, having hands-on experience of seeing the draw patterns and outcomes is never a bad thing.
For learning purposes though, solo poker should be used only at the very start of the learning process as the player will quickly grasp these fundamentals and require more experience with other players involved. In the end, though, this doesn’t mean that solo poker can’t be enjoyed for what it is anyway. After all, getting a poker night together or heading to a casino can often take a lot of planning, and there’s nothing wrong with a quick game at home!