Online Poker vs Live Poker
At first glance, you might think that playing poker online or at a casino is the same, because poker is poker wherever you play it. While the basic rules of Texas Hold’em or other poker versions stay the same no matter where you play, there are several differences between playing poker online and playing it in person (live poker). Players should be aware of these distinctions to have realistic expectations. The phrase “Online Poker vs Live Poker” highlights the contrast between playing poker digitally and playing in person. By understanding these contrasts between live poker and online poker games, players can choose the one that suits the poker experience they’re looking for.
But before we begin with our analysis of online poker vs live poker, let us first evaluate what each poker setting has to offer:
- Social Interaction: When you play live poker, it’s a social game. You compete in a public setting where you can observe your opponents, and they can observe you. You’ll also interact with dealers, servers, floor staff, and sometimes even spectators. This social aspect can be great for networking but might be tiring for introverts.
- Optional Socializing: There’s no requirement to be overly social when playing live poker. Some players prefer to remain silent during their sessions. However, many recreational players enjoy sociable opponents who make the game more entertaining.
- Tipping: When playing at a card room or casino, it’s customary to tip the dealers and waitstaff, usually around $1 per drink served or per pot won.
- Convenience: Online poker offers unparalleled convenience. You can access poker rooms from the moment you wake up until you go to bed, within minutes. It’s faster and easier than going to a physical casino.
- Global Access: You can play with thousands of players from all over the world, offering a wide range of poker formats and blind levels, from very low to high stakes.
- Multi-Tabling: Online poker allows you to join multiple tables simultaneously, giving you control over the number of hands you play per hour.
- Speed: Online poker is significantly faster than live poker. In a casino, you might average about 20 poker hands per hour, while online, you can complete a tournament within a few hours.
- No Commute: There’s no need to travel to a casino, get on a waiting list, exchange cash for chips, and sit at a single table for extended periods, which is common in live poker.
Online Poker Vs Live Poker
Live Games Are Slower
When you play games in person, things move at a much slower pace compared to playing games online. Online players often play many tables simultaneously and see hundreds of hands per hour.
In live games, you’re limited to just one table, and that table’s pace is much slower than any online game you’ve experienced. Typically, you can expect to see only 30-40 hands per hour at most in live games. The few reasons for this are:
First, live dealers take some time to shuffle and deal cards, collect chips, and handle the pots.
Second, many players at live tables like to take their time and aren’t solely focused on playing; they’re there to have fun, chat, and enjoy the game.
If you’re transitioning from an online background, this slower pace can be a bit frustrating, but it’s part of the live game experience, and there’s not much you can do about it. It’s best to be prepared for it.
More Multiway Pots in Live Games
Whether you’re playing tournaments or cash games, be ready for more scenarios where multiple players stay in the hand in live games.
Online, players often fold their weak hands and move to the next table. In live games, players are committed to a single table and may choose to play more speculative hands simply to avoid boredom and excessive folding.
Even cold-calling 3-bets, which is rare online, is quite common in lower stakes live games. You’ll often see multiple players getting involved in these situations.
Since this is a common occurrence, you’ll need to adapt your strategy to handle these multiway pots. Patience and waiting for good opportunities to get your money in ahead, as well as making disciplined folds, become essential.
You Can Leverage Your Table Image in Live Games
When you’re playing online, you’re just one of many players at the virtual table. It’s challenging to stand out unless you make significant mistakes or particularly target another player.
In live games, the dynamics are different. You spend hours sitting with the same group of players, and they naturally observe your actions, trying to understand your strategy, sometimes even subconsciously.
Building a certain image during a single session or over time, if you’re playing with the same group, can work to your advantage.
For instance, if your fellow players label you as a frequent bluffer, it’ll be challenging to change their perception. No matter how often you have the best hand on the river, those memorable bluffs will stick in their minds.
There aren’t strict rules for how to shape your image, but it’s crucial to be aware of what others likely think about you and use that perception to your advantage by doing things they don’t expect.
Higher Rake in Live Games
While online players often complain about the rake, live games tend to have a higher rake, especially in lower stake games. In these games, a significant percentage of each pot you win goes to the house.
It’s important to note that some live games have an uncapped rake, which means a fixed percentage is taken from every pot, regardless of its size. It’s generally advisable to avoid these games unless you’re confident about exploiting weak competition.
Additionally, you’re less likely to receive standard rakeback in live games. While some rooms run promotions and leaderboards where you can get some rake back, it’s not a common feature, and the amount returned is usually minimal.
It’s essential to understand the perspective of the casino as well. Unlike online platforms, they have a fixed number of tables and can’t create more to increase their profits. Ultimately, they need to cover their costs, and it’s the players who end up paying for it through the rake.
Live Poker Offers Valuable Insights
Playing poker in person has a unique advantage over online games. In live poker, you can pick up on important cues from your opponents. Some people might downplay the significance of these cues, but they’re quite valuable. We are not suggesting that these cues are the most crucial aspect of poker strategy, but they can make a big difference in large pots.
Many casual players reveal a lot about their hand’s strength, so if you pay attention, you can figure them out. Some players slam their chips when they’re bluffing, while others only talk when they have a strong hand, or they do something else that gives away information. Once you spot these cues, you can play more aggressively against these players and improve your chances.
Live Poker is Easier at Similar Stakes
If you’ve played online poker at the NL200 level or higher, you’re probably aware of how challenging those games can be. Online, you’ll encounter dedicated players who understand the strategy and make fewer mistakes. To succeed in online cash games at these stakes, you’ll need to put in a lot of effort.
On the other hand, live poker games at the same stakes or something similar are much more accessible. A decent online NL10 player will often be the favourite in most live NL200 games. That’s because most casinos don’t offer stakes lower than NL200 (it’s not financially viable), so anyone who wants to play poker must compete at these stakes or higher.
Online, you can play as low as NL5 if you just want to have some fun, and many casual players choose this option. Because of this, you won’t find many people looking to relax in NL200 online games, but in live games, there are plenty of such players. However, this works both ways. A decent player winning at their local 1/2 live game might struggle online. So, when transitioning from one setting to another, choose the appropriate stake carefully.
Flexibility in Bet Sizes in Live Poker
If you attempt to open with a 5x raise in a good online game, you can expect only the best hands to call. In contrast, live players often prioritize their hand over the size of the raise.
What this means is if they like their hand, they’ll call your 3x, 5x, or even 10x raise. So, it’s a good idea to experiment with your preflop raises to see how much your opponents are willing to pay and take advantage of that information. You can also vary your postflop bet sizes.
People often don’t pay much attention to the bet size, allowing you to make small bets to control the pot or large bets when you’re going for value. Balancing your bets isn’t as critical in live games, unless you’re up against a particularly tough group of opponents. If that’s the case, it’s better to switch to an easier game, which should be easy to find.
Balancing Win Rates in Live and Online Poker
Although live poker games are generally softer, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll make more money playing live instead of online. While your win rate in terms of BB/100 may increase significantly, you’ll play far fewer hands in live games.
If you win at 2BB/100 online and play 600 hands an hour across multiple tables, you’ll need to win at least 12BB per hour in live games to achieve the same earnings. This is achievable, but it’s essential to remember that your true success is measured by how much money you make per hour, not just the number of big blinds.
Online Poker Offers Flexibility
In the world of online poker, you can jump into games whenever you want. There are usually active tables day and night, especially in larger poker rooms with decent traffic. This means you have the freedom to set your own schedule, particularly when you’re playing cash games.
However, live poker operates differently. Most casinos and poker rooms primarily host games in the afternoon and evenings, with the most traffic on weekends. If you want to find exciting live games, you might have to play late into the night, and your Fridays and Saturdays may be reserved for poker. So, if flexibility and freedom are essential to you, online poker might be the better choice. Live games can be enjoyable, but you’ll need to adjust your schedule to fit them in.
All-In Postflop Ranges
When two online players, each starting with 100 big blinds, decide to go all-in after the flop, you typically expect to see strong hands like big pairs, two pairs, or perhaps a strong hand against a big bluff. However, when two live players go all-in with their 100 big blinds postflop, you’re more likely to see hands like mediocre top pairs, second pairs, or overly aggressive draws. Live players tend to take bigger risks and push weaker hands farther than their online counterparts. This has a few implications:
Online players should exercise caution when committing 100 big blinds to the pot. In live games, you can confidently bet with valuable hands for more substantial amounts. When a live player shoves their stack in, it doesn’t necessarily mean they have the best possible hand.
Online Poker Offers More Game Variety
It’s undeniable that when it comes to poker variety, online poker outshines its live counterpart. In live poker, you’re limited to specific variations like Texas Hold’em or No Limit Poker. However, in the online realm, your options are virtually limitless. Not a fan of Texas Hold’em? Try Omaha or explore other variants. That’s the beauty of online poker.
Online poker lets you choose the games that match your preferences, ensuring you have the best gaming experience.
Online Poker Provides Abundant Resources
The online poker community is tightly connected. If you’re new to the poker world, you’re in luck because the internet is filled with thousands of guides, tips, tricks, and advice to assist you. This means you’ll find a warm welcome and plenty of resources to help you get started. In contrast, live poker lacks such a vast online community for support and guidance.
Online Poker Offers Unmatched Conveniences
When you decide to join a live poker game, it involves dressing up, travelling to the venue, and finding a suitable table to play. While this process works well for occasional trips to a physical casino, it’s not practical for daily play due to its time-consuming nature.
In contrast, online poker offers unparalleled convenience which is that you can play poker from anywhere and at any time. Whether you prefer to play in your pyjamas or by the pool, the choice is yours. There’s no need to worry about dressing up or travelling to a specific location to enjoy a poker game. This convenience allows you to focus on the game and devise winning strategies to claim substantial cash prizes.
So What’s the Best Choice Between Online Poker vs Live Poker
In a nutshell, if we’re talking about the choice between Online Poker vs Live Poker, let’s lean towards Online Poker. Why? Well, it’s all about what suits you and what you’re seeking in a poker game. Online poker is an easy and fast option, making it convenient and exciting. It’s great for those who prefer a quicker pace. On the other hand, live poker is more about the social aspect and immersing yourself in the atmosphere. Both have their unique charm and challenges, but if you’re looking for convenience and a thrilling experience, online poker is the way to go. So, whether you’re playing from the comfort of your home or sitting at a physical poker table, online poker offers a compelling choice.
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