While many casino games include a strong element of luck, there are also occasions when players can bring skills to the table. Card games like blackjack and poker, for instance, have a heavy focus on knowledge and mathematical ability, and players have been known to master these pastimes. There are numerous ways to improve at any casino game, with regular practice being one of the best things to do. This can be supplemented with wide reading around the games and the consumption of expert analysis on YouTube.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
If you want to improve your proficiency at card games, you need to put yourself into real scenarios where you’ll be tested. Being able to respond to live pressures of the game is key, and this is now possible thanks to streaming technology that helps bring the casino floor environment to you in your home. You’ll find various online blackjack games, like Live Pearl Blackjack and Live 888 Fiver, where you come face to face with a live dealer, and you’ll need to make quick decisions in real time. By doing this repeatedly, you’ll eventually develop an intuition about how to act in the game.
Tom Brady couldn’t have become one of the best quarterbacks of all time without picking up a football and practicing, and the same can be said for some of the world’s most successful card players like Stu Ungar. Practicing the thing you want to get good at is the fundamental method of making it to the top. Of course, these two legends in their respective fields also honed and sharpened other necessary skills and strategies to set them apart from the competition. But there’s no refuting the fact that putting in the hours will make you more adept at something.
Online blackjack and poker come in a variety of levels, meaning that aspiring players can work their way up through the stages before they reach the top. There are plenty of free-to-play versions of these that you can take part in first to get used to the rules. The next step after that would be to enter some low-stakes games where there isn’t much risk involved. After a while, playing in the higher entry brackets is advisable, as this is where you’ll get a true sense of how the games are played at the top level.
Playing a combination of online and offline games is a wise move as well. For example, in poker, the skills needed to excel are slightly different in a real-world scenario to an online poker room. Online, players can’t see one another, so there’s a greater focus on mathematical ability, working out odds, and playing position. These skills are all desirable in live games as well, but psychological perspicacity is also a much-needed trait when you’re face to face with opponents.
Read Books on the Games
The thing about improving your skill set through practicing is that anyone can do that, and there are more card players than ever to compete with. That’s why you need to supplement the endless hours of practice with other things that can help you improve your abilities. By expanding your knowledge of card games, you’ll find that your mental agility within the game scenario improves massively.
Knowing what to do in any given situation is crucial in blackjack, where there are plenty of charts online detailing how to act based on your own cards and the card the dealer shows. You can start with options like The World’s Greatest Blackjack Book by Lance Humble and Carl Cooper for a great overview of the entire game. Then, there are several other fantastic offerings to follow it up and expand your understanding. Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich is a good option at this point, and you can even watch the film adaptation, 21, after you’ve finished reading it.
There are lots of poker books out there that can help players get an edge over the competition as well. Once you’ve studied the basics of probability and odds, it could be wise to read the books released by some of the best players in the business. That way, you can try to copy the methods they used to make it to the top. Some of the best books by experts include Power Hold’em Strategy by Daniel Negreanu and Poker Brat by Phil Helmuth. Another good one is The Biggest Bluff by Maria Konnikova. It details her rise from non-poker player to major tournament winner thanks to mastering the fundamentals of the game.
Caption: Maria Konnikova talking on stage.
Watch Experts Discuss or Play the Game
Modern card players are at a significant advantage thanks to players like Ungar who plied their trade in the days before the internet. Nowadays, YouTube provides an endless source of resources for picking up tips and tricks to use at the felt. You can choose to watch classic games, or you can listen to detailed analysis and hand breakdowns to get a real sense of why the best in the business behave the way they do.
Caption: Doug Polk breaks down a controversy from a poker game.
One of the top channels to watch for poker buffs is Doug Polk Poker. Polk is regarded as one of the best online players of all time, and his knowledge of the game is impeccable. He often picks out key moments from professional tournaments and deconstructs them, so viewers know exactly why the players acted how they did.
With many of today’s poker players often taking part in online tournaments, you may even have a chance to test your skills against them when you believe you are ready. Keep an eye out for major competitions like the World Series of Poker, which now hosts some of its events on the internet.
Being an excellent card player is all about immersing yourself in the games and getting as much practice as possible. You also need to refine other aspects of your skillset to get to the top, and this can be done by reading books and watching videos.