Bridge vs Poker – The battle of cards

Bridge vs Poker – The battle of cards

In the United States, the most popular card game in the 1940s was contract bridge. It was played by 47% of women and 30% of men. Poker took second place among men (22%) and only 5% among women.

The survey, conducted by the Association of American Card Manufacturers, does not reveal what forms of poker were played at this time, but it is thought that some form of stud poker dominated this period of time. But what are the similarities between bridge and poker?

Poker

Poker is an extremely versatile game with an interesting history and a lot of influences. Because of these influences, there are various versions of poker that have developed mainly in the USA during the 19th century. Poker is a symbol of the American dream of success through hard work and skill. This game is played with a traditional poker hand (52 cards, French hand with no Joker). There are many different variants of poker and for several reasons, including the WSOP and televised poker in the ’80s and ’90s, Texas Hold’em is nowadays the most popular poker game. Poker is an easy game to pick up and there is no limit to the number of participants that can play around a table.

For example, you can play in pairs, six, or with ten people. Poker players are expected to have value of poker hands committed to memory, which applies equally to all poker styles. Beginners sometimes have poor knowledge of which cards or hands have the greatest value. The ranking of the value of hands should therefore be studied beforehand.This game can now also be practiced and played online and is available for mobiles too, as at 888poker. In the online versions, there is no dealer, but players still play against each other at the felt.

Bridge

Let’s admit it: Bridge is one of the most difficult card games we know. You could even say that it places the highest demands on the card player of any card game out there. When you start learning, you are quickly drawn into the fascinating spell of this card game, which does not let you go. Bridge is a 4-person game. There are always four people at the table, working in pairs that sit opposite each other, while their opponents are to the left and right. Each player gets 13 cards. So, there are a total of 52 cards in play during the game also.

The beginning of a game starts with the bidding. This sounds relatively easy, but the difficulty for the beginner is knowing what to bid. Bidding is like an auction where the two pairs try to outbid each other for the ‘contract’ while at the same time the two members of each partnership are sharing information with their partners about their hands. Over the course of time, various bidding systems with different announcement conventions have been developed, which can be very complex and not easy to learn. The final contract states how many tricks the pair who won the bidding auction must win on the hand. Of course, 13 tricks are the max that can be won in each deal, and the pair who won the contract will either win the right amount or ‘go down’ if the opponents win enough.

At bridge clubs and tournaments around the world, the winners do not play for money. There’s a global system of ‘masterpoints’ which are awarded in different amounts to top placers. Players who consistently win at top level play are able to become professionals in that they start to be hired to play on teams and in pairs by clients who wish to improve their game or earn masterpoints. Nations as well will sometimes put together a team and pay them well to practice and play every day in the lead up to a World Championships. Italy, for example, is famous for its professional/national bridge teams. However there is a form of bridge known as ‘rubber bridge’ that people play for money, typically around the kitchen table.

Let’s compare

A lot of bridge players also play poker. Both games require skill, practice, and patience and challenge players to work to improve their games. Both games can be social, played at card parties, and with crowds in casinos (poker) and tournaments and clubs (bridge). Both games offer tournaments and championships for those who want to play at more challenging levels. Both games can be watched on youtube or TV.

The differences, however, are many. Bridge is a partnership game. Players spend hours and hours going over bidding conventions and signalling systems in order to learn the language of bridge. And because players need to communicate with each other, it’s very difficult to create online bridge for money. It’s too easy to cheat. You and your partner could be playing online but sitting in the same room and telling each other what cards are in your hands. Or chatting on the phone. This issue is being explored and currently you can play online partnered with robots all of whom have the same skill level. In this ‘individual’ kind of play it is impossible to cheat. However, it does take away one of the more fascinating aspects of the game – that of creating the perfect bridge bidding and signalling system with a human partner.

But I think one of the biggest difference between the two games is betting. Although money bridge can require players to take risks in their bidding or play, there is no betting during the hand. Winning a hand wins points (or loses points) and the players typically win a certain amount of money per point at the end of the ‘rubber’. In poker, on the other hand,  the play largely centers on the act of betting. Wikipedia does a good job describing betting.

Both Poker and Bridge are played with cards and enjoyed by humans around the world. And both games will keep your mind sharp, bring you and friends or family together, and can be very enjoyable.

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