BJ v poker

Who has bigger edge, a proficient poker player (casino hold'em) or a proficient BJ counter (assume good game, no heat)? Given same starting bank, who makes more $ in long run?
My guess is poker...

...based on the huge-burgeoning field of poker oppotunity. zg

Ps - BJ counting might be easier to master @ novice level.
I'll take Blackjack

Mostly because you said "the long run". Poker players as individuals are always getting better, and the higher the stakes, the better the players you'll encounter. And if there is someone a lot better than you at the table you won't know until they take a bite.

On the other hand as your BJ bankroll and proficiency go up you get priced out of a few good games and the heat goes up but more opportunities open up to you.

I'm referring to playing each game at a live, public table, not tournaments, promotional appearances, etc.

The Mayor

Well-Known Member
Don't know

There are way too many variables...

If you are going to play *only* blackjack, then poker is definitely the better game. But it takes a lot longer to learn poker; it is a much tougher game to beat, and the swings are huge in poker. However, those who can beat it have a much larger long-term upside, with no heat.

On the other hand, take 100 bright, mathematically inclined people who want to master both blackjack and poker. If all of them could master blackjack, then maybe 1 of them will become a winning poker player. That's how tough poker really is.

I guess my question could've been clearer. What I'm really looking for is a quantitative comparison. Which game gives a bigger edge to the pro player? Forget popularity, availabiity, heat, etc. In a hypothetical heat-free casino offering both poker and good bj whenever I want it, where do I earn more $$ playing full-time for a year or 2? Thanks for feedback.

The Mayor

Well-Known Member

For a typical low-limit holdem game, with a 5% rake, my understanding is that the long term win rate for a pro is about one big bet per hour. So, for example, if you could afford a $4-$8 game, your win rate is about $8/hour.

Once you move to higher limits, the rake (which usually is capped at $3/hand) is reduced as a fraction of the action, so your win rate marginally improves, but you can still think of the salary as being just a tad higher than 1 big bet per hour for limit poker.

However, personal style will greatly affect this. Although expert play gets you that 1 bet per hour, there is no "basic strategy" for poker, so your salary may come with high variance or low variance, making the bankroll requirements unclear. A person who gets into a lot of pots is going to have a higher bankroll requirement than one who plays very tight. Both styles can win. Without knowing your style of play, there is no way to say what bankroll gives what win rate in poker.

For further discussion of poker as a job, the salary, and the bankroll requirements, I refer you to the excellent poker website


I play quite a bit of low to mid stakes poker and find it much more profitable with less variance than BJ. I can make about $37/hr at poker but only about 5.5/hr at BJ, red chip.

Disclaimer: I've played poker for close to twenty years but I've only recently begun counting, only two very limited years under my belt. I'm wining but I still make too many mistakes.

A poker bankroll is generally considered to be 300 Big Bets, $2400 for a 4/8 limit game. You can assume 35 hands an hour for live limit poker that would cost about $20/hr in blinds just to sit at the table. Much cheaper than red chip play. At higher limits, 10/20 and up they do away with the rake in lieu of a time charge, $5-7/half hr. The 1BB/ hour is the target win rate for live poker, however that is typically for higher limits, 30/60 and above. Those in the biggest games 1000/2000 and up earn about .8BB/hr I earn 2.5BB/hr at 5/10 to 10/20 and others earn more.

Some say that poker has no basic strategy but I would disagree. In limit poker you make plays based on math similar to BJ. In holdem you hold two hearts and on the flop are two more hearts. 52 cards in the deck and you know 5 of them. Out of 47 remaining cards 9 of them will make your flush for 19% twice, or roughly 30% by the river. In this example if the pot offers you more than 3-1 on your money you bet/raise, less and you fold. This example greatly simplifies things but if you want to read 'Theory of Poker' by David Sklansky it goes into much greater detail.

"For a typical low-limit holdem game, with a 5% rake, my understanding is that the long term win rate for a pro is about one big bet per hour. So, for example, if you could afford a $4-$8 game, your win rate is about $8/hour."

So, how does that compare to BJ? BR requirement, etc. zg


New Member
Game selection

Your win rate in terms of big bets varies all over the place. In smaller games, winning three or four times the big bet hourly is common. The relationship is not linear based only upon the stakes, but absolutely dependent on the quality of your opponents. It pays to be selective and look for poor play.

You would like to find a larger stakes (limit) game played loosely by happy revelers. Playing a $10,$20 Hold'em game because you can afford it is a mistake if only 2 1/2 players are seeing flops and the blinds are constantly raised. This game cannot be beaten. The $20,$40 game with 6 calling stations seeing the flops and regular straddles by laughing tourists will throw off better than $100 per hour.

Like the twenty-one game, you should look for the softer spots and put yourself on their list before the donors bust themselves out.