April 23rd, 2008

Charles Jay

There are poker players who will occasionally indulge themselves at the blackjack table. There are probably more blackjack players who also play poker, many of them in response to the game’s surge in popularity over the last few years. In fact, I know quite a few serious blackjack players who have pretty much abandoned it to play poker online.

On balance, I’d say there most likely aren’t too many people who play both games religiously.

Part of it may be that there is more human interaction in poker, whether it be in a brick and mortar situation or online. Maybe they’re just looking to follow the crowd to the game that seems “hot” right now.

Well, let’s say you’ve never really taken on either game to any considerable extent but would like to, and need some counsel on how to approach it over at Superior Casino.

Let’s put you through sort of an informal interview.

If you are not the kind of person who likes to battle a house edge, but would rather be in a game where the best player at the table has a chance to win the money most of the time, then poker might be the game for you. If you frequent a particular card club in person, or to a degree even if you play in a casino online, you may have a chance to control the level of opposition you play against, which changes the dynamic of the game for you, and thus, your chances of winning. In blackjack, on the other hand, the rules are the rules are the rules. If you want to change the dynamic of the game, you’ll probably have to switch to another version of the game, and take advantage of subtleties those variations have to offer.

If you’re not looking for a lot of variables that can affect your end result, then blackjack is probably better for you. Once again, the rules are the rules. You essentially have a stationary target to aim at in blackjack. It is called “the house.” In poker, it is completely dependent on factors that change all the time, like who else is at the table, how well you’re able to read them (a little tougher online than in person), how well they’re able to read you, how well you are able to coerce another player into going into a pot with a hand that’s not as good as yours, etc., etc., etc. In other words, the target is far from standing still. In fact, it’s moving all the time.

Different players want different things out of the games they play. How about you? Are you torn between poker and blackjack? Which is better?

If you prefer more “science” from a mathematical standpoint, choose blackjack, where, if you really want to reach a high level of proficiency, you can utilize a Basic Strategy in the online game that can give you the best play to make for any particular player vs. dealer situation. In poker,you’re using whatever information is at your disposal, from both a mathematical and psychological perspective, and both are far from an exact science.

If you want as many places as you can possibly play, you should opt for poker. That’s because you can play anywhere, against anyone, because the house has no stake in the matter. Blackjack obviously has the house involved, so you might not always get the rules you want.

This is mostly something I would advise to people who participate in the physical casino setting, but if you’re a card counter and you don’t want to get barred from a casino because you’re winning, choose poker over blackjack. If you get nervous when some pit boss is staring you down, you want to first get online to play blackjack. Or you may want to play poker instead. This way, you can have a whole bunch of people observing you (yuk, yuk).

In online poker, even though you don’t get to read opponents by detecting physical expressions and movements, there are still some techniques you can use to determine “tells.” And the basic fundamentals are still the same, in that there is no “house” to battle against, and if you’re the best player at the table, you’re likely to win the most in the long run.

We hope that helps.

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Understanding the Games. Part two: PAY TABLE

March 26th, 2008

Understanding the Games.
By Charles Jay

Part two: PAY TABLE

The pay table applies to video-based games such as slot machines and video poker games. It is, in effect, a “schedule” of payouts and describes the relationship between the amount of coins or units the bettor puts into a wager and the amount of units he or she will get back with a win. When you are playing at Superior Casino, for example, you are going to be able to access the pay table for any video slot or video poker game easily, simply by clicking a button.

The pay table also serves an important function, particularly in the area of slot machines, in that, ideally, it clears up things quite a bit, as it gives the player all the payout possibilities. Remember, there are a lot of pay lines on a video slot machine, and a wide number of possible ways to win. Imagine 40 pay lines, going in every direction, with dozens of symbols to account for, which pay off to different degrees, not to mention the various ways the player can score jackpots, supplemental payouts and qualify for bonus rounds. The pay table outs all of that information at the player’s fingertips.

Although we are most concerned about the pay tables as they appear in the interface of Superior Casino, you will find it as well on a physical slot machine or video poker game in the casino, where it appears in front of you. Find it, read it, and pay attention to it, so that there is no misunderstanding as to your payouts, and use it as a guide for betting, so that you can achieve your desired payouts.


You often hear about video poker games or machines with a 99.5% payback – this would be, for example, a 9/6 Jacks or Better game (that which pays 9-1 on the Full House and 6-1 on the Flush). These are supposed to pay put $99.50 for every $100 played on them. The house would be operating on a .5% advantage in these cases. That would be not too much different as the house advantage when you play Basic Strategy in blackjack. Here’s the “rub,” as they say – of course, that payback and those percentages only hold up if you are able to learn a strategy for video poker and implement it perfectly. If you play foolishly, or say, as an experiment, deliberately go out of your way to discard potentially winning cards, your disadvantage will go up considerably and the payback on the game will go DOWN considerably.

Percentage payback is going to be different according to what kind of game you play. An 8/5 Jacks or Better game (that which the player gets paid 8-1 on the Full House and 5-1 on the Flush) has a payback of 97.3%, giving the player a 2.7% disadvantage, even with perfect strategy play. A 6/5 Jacks or Better game, which pays just 6-1 on a Full House and 5-1 on a Flush, has a payback of 95%. Obviously, no one would be advised to compete at a game with a 5% built-in house advantage, when there are better games available. But check out ALL the games over at Superior Casino!

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