Friday, November 16, 2012

Jennbridge: Advantages of Playing Bridge over Poker

This post is in collaboration with Daniel Smith, a fellow Bridge enthusiast and a Poker fan.

Professional poker has seen tremendous growth over the last decade.  Several of the game's current stars have come to poker from other mind sports such as Bridge and Chess.

For example,  Martin De Knijff and Barry Greenstein were both former bridge players prior to taking up poker. Martin deKnijff was actually five time winner of the Swedish Bridge Championship.

Of course, not everyone who tries to make the transition from bridge to poker is successful because there are clear differences, and in some ways bridge has advantages over poker and vice versa.  Let's take a look at some of those advantages.

Advantages of Playing Poker over Bridge

In the game of poker, you can pick up a myriad of physical and psychological tells on your opponent that you generally cannot do in bridge.

Another advantage of poker over bridge is the bluff.  Bluffing is a talent that is used much more in poker than in bridge, although good bridge players are often successful at bluffing.  Finally, there is a lot more money to be won playing poker than bridge.  Poker's World Champion recently won $8 Million. 

Advantages of Playing Bridge over Poker

The first major advantage of playing bridge over the game of poker is that you have a partner (although some players would describe this as a dubious advantage).  Poker is a solo game where you are competing against everyone at the table.  Barry Greenstein once said that he socializes much more in bridge than in poker due to this fact.

Also, one hand in bridge is not going to end your game like it can in poker.  Depending on circumstances, you can lose all your money in a single hand of poker or be eliminated from the tournament based on the results of one hand.  That doesn't happen in bridge.

Finally, bridge is a game that does not have a significant financial impact on its players like poker.  Poker players often go broke, including the most successful.  There are many more losing poker players than winning poker players.  Excepting big-time money bridge players, when have you ever heard of someone going broke playing bridge?

Game Enjoyment

One huge difference between poker and bridge is game enjoyment.  If a poker player is not winning money, he or she is usually not having fun.  Conversely, each hand of bridge presents its players with a challenge.  You have a set goal each hand and work towards achieving that goal. 

Bridge players can play for hours or days and never win or lose a dime, and they are perfectly happy to do so.  If a poker player loses for hours or days, he or she may not be able to pay the rent.

If you are someone who enjoys an element of gambling in their gaming, you may want to give poker a try.  Conversely, if you are a poker player who is looking for a mental challenge that isn't going to drain your bankroll, it may be time to take up bridge.  Just be sure to pick a good partner, and pick up the Losing Trick Count booklet.  Good luck at the tables.


Memphis MOJO said...

Great article. I hope you don't mind my mentioning some more players who play both games:

Steve Weinstein is a world champion at bridge who is also a great poker player. See here.

Bobby Baldwin is a Main Event winner at poker who is also a Bronze LM at bridge.

Bob Ciaffone is a well-known author of poker books who is a Silver LM at bridge. He came in third in the Main Event in 1987 losing to Johnny Chan.

Phil Gordon is famous as a poker player (fourth in the Main Event in 2001), but he has also won an NABC event.

Mike Sexton is a bracelet winner and poker commentator who used to play and teach bridge. He doesn't play bridge now, but is still an ACBL member.

Are you THE Dan Smith?

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