Blackjack and poker have many similarities and looking at card counting gives us many such similarities. For example I used to be a card counter years ago before I went into online poker and played at sites like www.888poker.com and so I feel that I am well placed to discuss these issues.
In card counting then it is often assumed that mere knowledge of card counting is enough to give a player the edge. This is certainly not the case and you need to have a much deeper knowledge level or have almost perfect conditions to be able to make money from card counting.
These conditions mean having preferable game dynamics like being able to play without heat for example but to play without heat essentially means one of two areas need to be active. The first is that the casino staff and management are not very sophisticated with regards to card counting strategy and secondly that your own deception strategies are very good.
Most counters basically just do the minimum or are not scouting around for the best games aggressively enough. The end result is that the vast majority of card counters are either detected by the casino and prevented from playing or have counter strategies used against them. The rest fail to spot good games and merely recycle money or are slightly –EV.
So just what lessons can we derive from this? Well firstly it means that as a card counter that you know accurate basic strategy. So you can play your hands perfectly and you are card counting so you always know when the count is in your favour. However it takes more than this to be a winner.
So we can then see that playing your hands “well” is often not enough for long term profit in a game like blackjack. The lesson to be learned here can be applied to poker equally well.
Years ago then being able to play your hands very well separated you from nearly everyone else who played poker. But then the game evolved and the average player just got better and better. This meant that most players’ at all decent levels could play their hands well.
It is clear then that online poker has followed a very similar evolutionary path to blackjack and you now need to recognise that your opponents are not only superior to what they used to be on the whole but that you now need to think strategically and not tactically to get an edge in poker.
In all environments then tactical thinking can only take you so far. In Chess for example then you will never be able to beat a strong master thinking tactically. This is why playing too many tables above certain levels is unlikely to lead to you getting an edge in the game because too many of your opponents will be playing solid poker.
In days gone by then playing your hands solidly got you an edge just like it did in blackjack. But now you have to think on a whole new level to beat your opponents many of who will be multi-tabling.
Recently I have switched back to playing a single table again but at higher stakes in an effort to gain an edge over players who are multi-tabling and playing ABC. I think that there are too many players at this moment in time multi-tabling.
In my opinion then many players are not even psychologically cut-out to multi-table anyway. This is to do with the variance that is involved within the game. Many people argue that multi-tabling gets you into the long term far faster…….nobody really disputes this. However the losing runs and the beats and outdraws come during very short condensed time frames which essentially means that you can pretty much get smacked around pretty badly on any one given day or week.
Carl Sampson is an online poker pro and ambassador for 888poker