Interest in casino games is at an all-time high right now. Because of the ready availability of online casinos, games like blackjack, poker and slots are now accessible to nearly everyone, providing a great way to have some fun and learn something new. And because many of these online casinos also offer the option to play for free, people can enjoy the games as they are, without having to worry about the financial implications of losing money on bad bets.
While some casino games are based entirely on luck – think slots and bingo – others involve a surprising number of skills. While card games like poker and blackjack each have their own set of rules and mathematical probabilities which players need to learn in order to master the game, there are other skills which are transferable between all skill-based games. So if you’re a poker player wanting to try your hand at something else, you’ll be pleased to learn that you already have many advantages.
Important Poker Skills
Winning at poker isn’t just about getting dealt the best cards or making the best hand; often these don’t even factor into it. A good player can win with the worst hand, if they know how when to take risks, when to push the bluff, and how to read their opponents. It’s skills like these which transfer well to other casino games, as well as real life situations.
During a tournament or a session at a table, most players will fold more hands than they play. It’s not that they fancy a break, but they recognize that whatever their hand is, it isn’t going to win. You might be sitting on pocket jacks, but if everyone before you enthusiastically antes, it’s probably a fair bet that there are aces and higher picture cards which will trump you on the flop. Knowing when to take that bet and when to pass is a really important skill.
Take blackjack for example. You are playing against the dealer and you see that they have a face up picture card. You have 15. There’s a good chance that if you take another card, you could improve your total, especially as you can see a high card is not in the deck. However, the chances that the dealer has a better total than you are even higher. So while 15 is not a hopelessly low score, taking an extra card, however tempting, probably won’t help you. The sensible thing to do is to fold before you invest any more money in the hand. This minimizes your losses and leaves you to play a new round.
Performing Under Pressure
The problem with playing poker against other people is that you feel constantly under scrutiny. Spectators, the dealer, and other players are watching your every move, analyzing your reactions, and trying to work out what cards you are hiding. It can be a very stressful situation. You still need to concentrate and perform at your best, otherwise your game is going to suffer. Mastering the skill of performing under pressure will be a great asset to other casino games, as well as many real-life situations.
While other games aren’t played directly against other players, but rather against the house, you will still feel the pressure. Casinos draw spectators as well as players, and often people like nothing better than to watch the action around the roulette or craps tables, because these games are dynamic. Yes, more luck is involved than skill in dictating the outcome, but how you bet and react to the unfolding situation will change how likely you are to come away in profit. And if you fold under the pressure, your chances will be greatly reduced.
If the pressure really gets to you, you might want to consider practicing at an online casino until you get more comfortable with your game of choice. Without prying eyes looking over your shoulder, it’s easier to work out what you want to do next.
Focus and Patience
Poker is not a quick game. While round length varies, tournament games regularly go on for hours, and you need to be as focused at the end as you were at the start. It can be tempting to zone out when you’re not involved, but every hand is an opportunity to learn something new about your opponents and the way they play, so watching them after you have folded is really important. Similarly, having the patience to wait for the right time to make your move, rather than entering a pot out of boredom, will give you a much better chance at winning it.
Blackjack is another game where keeping an eye on what is happening while you’re not involved can give you a better idea of how to play. Casinos make it very difficult to count cards nowadays, using multiple decks and burning cards between deals, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a general feel for which cards have gone. If you notice that a lot of high cards were spent in one round, then it’s less likely that more will follow. So now might be the time to hit on that 15.
Poker is the casino game which requires the most skill, so it’s not surprising that things learnt at the table can be applied to other games. In fact, many poker skills are also useful in real life situations, especially in the business world. With online casinos offering easy access to a wide range of casino games, now is as good a time as any for poker players to diversify, so what are you waiting for?