It’s a Matter of Numbers and Math in Poker and Blackjack.

Some professional poker players with an aptitude for math actually started out playing blackjack while taking advantage of what certain humans can claim as an aptitude for math. Why would you need to be good in math to play blackjack? I mean all you have to do is count to twenty one – right? Well the real math in black jack starts in the fundamentals of the game, the deck, the betting, and the odds. There is a reason why blackjack is the most popular casino game. If you are exceptional at math skills, you stand a good chance to come out ahead – even long term. Yes you can beat the house, but casinos are pretty wise to somebody actually winning consistently as a result of counting cards and skewing an advantage for the player. You might have heard about Andy Bloch (and some MIT buddies), one of the first WPT final table participants who was actually banned from certain casinos from playing blackjack. It didn’t start there though because a card counting system was widely devised and available way back in the 1960’s, but because you still needed some math prowess to execute the system, putting it into profitable play was an entirely different matter. Not only that, once the casinos knew about an available system, they put up hurdles as well like using multiple decks and/or cutting a random portion of the deck out of play. There are definitely a set of equivalent skills in poker and blackjack that may appeal to certain types of players and that has transpired in busy blackjack tables at casinos where poker is popular too. You can find many poker players venturing over to the blackjack tables between no limit tournaments, breaks or waiting for a table. It’s the gambling instinct yes, but it’s also a math game. I find a lot of good poker players like other puzzles too, crosswords, sudoku, chess, and of course the ultimate dice game, backgammon. Gus Hansen, Howard Lederer and Dan Harrington started out playing backgammon before moving to the more lucrative poker arena. One thing blackjack and poker have in common is a puzzle to solve. They both have that critical deep thinking requirement for progressing in your game – either one. And it’s not just thinking about what to do at the table. It’s analyzing your most likely profitable or positive EV move in a given situation. You need to get good at calculating odds, betting skills, and your winning probabilities. That may require a lot of introspective away from the table between games too, but that’s what winners like Andy, Gus, Howard and Dan do. At the very least with a little study and patience, your blackjack buck will go a longer way in the casino even though the house still has an edge, you can consider it your entertainment expense without having huge expectations of yourself.

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