Online Blackjack Versus Video Poker GamblingBy: Shirley Spicer, Wednesday February 29th 2012
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Both blackjack and video poker are popular games at online casinos. There are similarities and differences that make for interesting comparison. The game play and the objectives are completely different. In blackjack the player has to beat the dealer without busting, while in video poker the player's final hand is compared against a payout table. Blackjack evolved from other gambling games starting over five hundred years ago. Video poker is a one shot creation just over hundred years old.
The reason for the popularity of both these online casino games is the same. Both blackjack and video poker offer extremely high average returns to the player. Most variants of these games offer an unbelievable return of around 99.5%. In comparison European Roulette offers an average return of 97.3% and online slots offer an average return of about 95%. However, slots and roulette offer these returns as guaranteed, whereas the higher returns offered by blackjack and video poker are conditional. They are realized only if the players employ optimum strategy, otherwise the returns can be well below 90%.
Online blackjack and video pokers are games of skill. The skill requirement is quite complex, much more so than in some casino poker variants where the player has to know on which hands to raise and on which hands to fold. Fortunately the skills have been codified in various forms for easy implementation. In blackjack this has been done through strategy cards, which are in tabular forms and are extremely easy to follow. Some of the leading software providers like Microgaming have even incorporated them into Auto Play so that players cannot make a mistake.
The video poker strategy is stated in a sequential series of choices. It is not that convenient as the blackjack strategy card to follow while playing online. It works better if memorized. Also, software providers have not incorporated the video poker optimum strategy into the games. Therefore learning the strategy is mandatory for serious video poker players. It must be said that some software providers mark cards to be held in their video poker games if they already form winning combinations. But to take this for the incorporation of complete optimum strategy would be naïve and perilous.
The critical difference between video poker and blackjack concerns payout ratios. In the standard variants of online blackjack based on land casino rules the normal bets pay out even money and blackjack wins pay out 3 to 2. Therefore accumulating large wins in blackjack is necessarily a grind. There are some online blackjack variants that offer independent side bets with high payout ratios, but the average returns on these bets are very low and they cannot be clubbed with the main blackjack game.
The payouts in online video poker games begin with even money, but there is considerable variation in the top payouts. In Jacks or Better, which is considered the standard version, the payout for a royal flush with five coins wagered is 800 to 1. Even the more likely outcomes straight and flush pay out 4 to 1 and 6 to 1 respectively. Therefore big wins in individual hands are possible in video poker.
The conclusion that can be reached is as follows. In blackjack the average return will be about 99.5% and most of the players will be clustered above and below this level. In video poker the average return will also be about 99.5% but the variations about that average will be far greater. Therefore players with greater risk taking tendencies will prefer video poker and the more conservative players will prefer blackjack.
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