As a poker player, the journey towards perfect is one that’s never ending. Regardless of how much you’ve learned or know, there’s always a way to improve and refine your skill set. Indeed, from the top of the poker tree and the pros such as Phil Ivey to the lowest rung of the ladder, everyone can get better no matter who they are.
Having said that, the more you learn, the tougher it gets to acquire new skills. Although Mr. Ivey can always improve, it’s very unlikely he’s going to learn anything new by reading Doyle Brunson’s Super System. When you get to a stage in your poker journey where some things just seem obvious, it becomes necessary to think outside of the box.
Looking beyond the standard canon of poker literature and into other arenas for inspiration is something that all aspiring players should do. In fact, even if you’ve yet to master the basics, there is still value in looking at other disciplines for ways to increase your EV.
Casino Games Can Help Your Poker Game
A natural area of investigation for poker players should be the casino world. Games such as blackjack, baccarat and roulette share a number of traits with poker and we can cherry pick some of them to help augment our arsenal.
To illustrate our point and give you some ways to become a better poker player, here are three tips from the blackjack world. If you head into the virtual arena and play live blackjack online, it’s almost as though you’re playing heads-up poker with a real person.
Because games such as blackjack use web streams to bring the action to life, there’s a level of interaction that’s similar to the one you’d find at the poker table. With this in mind, here’s some blackjack skills you can practice at the blackjack tables and then take into the poker world.
Betting is a Business
One of the best pieces of blackjack writing is Lawrence Revere’s Playing Blackjack as a Business. Written back in 1969, this book changed the way people thought of blackjack. Instead of seeing it as a way to gamble, Revere’s work showed how a player can use skill, logic and discipline.
The same is also true of poker. Just like a blackjack player, poker grinders need to look at their long-term EV and understand that your overall win rate is the thing that matters. Yes, you can hit a big score in a tournament, but you need to look at your whole body of results to see your true win rate. If you can do this, you’ll start to pay more attention to every bet you make as you’ll appreciate that everything has an impact on your overall profits.
Look at Your Opponents
The final blackjack skill many top players will use is checking the dealer’s up card before they make a move. Instead of basing their moves on the value of their own cards, top players will check to see if the dealer is weak (showing a 4, 5 or 6) or strong (showing an 8, 9, 10 or ace).
Based on the value of the dealer’s exposed card, players will make certain moves (i.e. stand on totals such as 14 when the dealer is weak because they will bust more often). Applying this concept to poker, it becomes clear that you should always look at those around you before you make a move. If you can pick up on strength or weakness, it can turn a fold into a bet and a bet into a fold.
While it might not seem like playing blackjack will help improve your poker skills, it actually is and we think you should take our advice, ante-up in a casino environment for a little while and see what else you can learn before you next place a poker bet.