Stu Ungar was one of the greatest poker players of all time, and the card shark who was known simply as “The Kid” is one of only four players to win consecutive World Series of Poker Main Event titles. Ungar won the prestigious Las Vegas competition on three occasions, a feat that has only been matched by one other player – Johnny Moss. The man with an incredible knack for mathematics excelled in other card games including blackjack, and this helped him to refine his overall poker skill set. It seems strange that more players don’t follow in his footsteps and play blackjack as a way to improve at poker.
Ungar’s Incredible Knack for Card Games
Before getting into poker, Ungar was a professional gin rummy player. The WSOP legend is, in fact, quoted as saying that nobody in the world was better than him at the two-player game. He doubted many were better than him at poker, but he was certain he was the world’s greatest at gin rummy. The game which was founded in 1909 by Elwood T. Baker and C. Graham Baker involves mathematics and requires players to have the ability to predict what the other player is holding. Ungar was described as having clairvoyant skills in this regard, and he used the attributes learned here to excel in poker.
Ungar had a prodigy level IQ and incredible recall abilities, which helped him decipher his opponents in poker and also make strong mathematical choices at the table. He used blackjack as another way to refine these skills and keep his mental game sharp. During the height of his career, the card magician would have had to seek out blackjack games at casinos. Nowadays, poker players can find games online much more easily.
Blackjack players often make the switch from the casino game to poker, because they find that the mathematic and memory skills they picked up from playing it help in Hold’em. Amateur poker players who want to improve their overall skills could try playing blackjack as a way to do this. Once you have learned the rules of blackjack, there are different strategies and techniques for players to master in order to get to a higher level. If you don’t know all rules of blackjack, you can check them out on blackjackcanada.ca.
Which Current Pros Play other Offerings?
There are a number of professional poker players who have realized that playing other card games can help to improve their general poker skill set. While blackjack was one of Stu Ungar’s preferred games, today’s best player, Phil Ivey, likes to dabble in baccarat. This is another casino card game in which players have to make quick calculations.
Canadian poker legend Daniel Negreanu chooses to play a more modern card game as a way to keep his strategic and mathematical skills sharp. Kid Poker has a fondness for the fantasy card game Hearthstone, which follows a lot of the same concepts as traditional card games. Players need to use tactics, as well as try to predict what their opponent might do. The skills learned here can be applied to the poker table.
Playing a lot of poker games is a good way to improve, but amateur players need to look at some of the greatest ever and emulate what they did. Partaking in a range of card games is a surefire way to build a strong skill set.
Professional Poker Vs Professional Blackjack
Interestingly enough, not many poker players like playing blackjack. There are two main reasons for this. The first one is that they feel that poker is a game of skill, while blackjack is based purely on luck. Professional poker players consider themselves far better players than their blackjack colleges. This, of course, isn’t completely true. While there is a lot of skill involved with playing poker successfully, dismissing blackjack as a simple game of chance isn’t justified. While it is true that the player’s skill is more important in poker, a lot of knowledge goes into making a correct call in blackjack when to hold or ask for another card. That is even not going into all the counting cards tactics and the time it takes to learn and master them. Each one takes at least several months to learn properly, and probably years to fully master and use with confidence. Selecting a proper strategy for blackjack involves a lot of thinking and knowledge of the game. Some players who played both games claim that it takes a lot more concentration and effort to play blackjack compared to poker.
The other factor is that poker is played against other players. There is a strong social component and being able to read other players’ reactions, while hiding yours is essential for any successful poker player. Bluffing is an integral part of the game and players who don’t learn quickly how to do it are relieved of their money in short order. Finally, winnings in poker come from other players at the table. In blackjack, they come from the house, which isn’t necessarily a better solution. The house is a business and since successful blackjack players threaten their bottom lines, casinos will do all in their power to dissuade them from playing.
While blackjack can also be played with several players, it is essentially played against the dealer. Since most dealers have strict rules when to hold, they can be predictable.
A general consensus is that poker is harder to master than blackjack and that it has a steeper learning curve, making it rather unfriendly game for new players. Blackjack, on the other hand, can be played with some success even by the inexperienced players, but don’t expect to make a fortune or bankrupt the casino at your first game. Still, in the long run, it can be more profitable than poker and that is why many poker players are at least considering, if not actively taking measures, to transfer.