The differences between online poker and live poker
Whether you play poker in a casino or on a computer, it is still the same game with the same poker rules. A flush beats a straight, whether you are sitting at a real poker table or a virtual one. Players in both games bet, bluff, and get bad beats when things aren’t working out so well. Many of the skills that have been developed in one format can easily be transferred to the other.
On the other hand, many players have convincingly argued that the games could not be more different. It’s like comparing chess and online chess, was the testimony of many people. Online Poker is a kind of video game, and live poker is more related to a sport. One is virtual and the other is real.
Not too long ago, the contrast between live poker players and online poker players was pretty strong. Many professionals belonged to one group and essentially ignored the other. There were stories from live poker players trying out the online poker tables, claiming that it was not real poker. Online poker players, on the other side, had problems playing with real cards and chips, and struggled with the etiquette of live poker.
These days, everything is a bit different, and most poker pros play both online and live.
What are the differences between live and online poker? In this article, we want to talk about this topic in greater detail.
In the live cash game, it will often come to different betting sizes than if you compare it to the online games, especially when it comes to preflop raises. While online poker cash game offers the possibility for players to raise the big blind with one click for 2x, 2.5x, or 3x, it is not uncommon for players to bet 5x or even 6x or more in live poker.
Tournaments are a different story, though here there are also occasionally inexperienced players struggling to control the size of the pot.
Multi-way vs heads-up pots
Live poker players generally play much more loosely, and the players make more calls than would be the case online. One consequence of this trend is that more multi-way pots are found in live games than online, where preflop bets usually generate heads-up situations.
In a live cash game session, it’s not uncommon for multiple players to see the flop, creating a multi-way pot.
Call vs Fold
Of course, there are bad beats in both online poker and live poker. Due to the speed of the online game and the fact that you play a lot more hands online, you will of course experience far more bad beats online than you would in live poker. This happens even more often on the lower limits of online poker, as the players here are very weak and usually overplay their hands, and sometimes only win with a lot of luck.
So, it might seem like you are experiencing more bad beats when playing online, but as already mentioned, this is mainly due to the larger number of hands you are playing.
The pace of the game
One of the obvious differences between live and online poker is the pace of the game. Online poker is played much faster than live poker, and some who prefer to play online find the live game too boring. While players in a no-limit hold ‘em cash game might play 30 hands per hour, online players will see 60 or more hands per hour at a given table, and even more at shorthanded tables.
«Variance» is a term commonly used to describe the fluctuations that player experience in poker, with the higher variance leading to greater gains and losses in the short term, compared to your results over longer periods of time. The faster online pace artificially affects what the «short-term» actually is. You could play online for a week and record 10 times the number of hands you would play if you played live poker for a week, giving the impression that the variance has been greatly accelerated.
Tells about players
An obvious difference when playing online is that you cannot see your opponents – and that they cannot see you – which means that the role of «physical tells» is left out of the online game. Of course, this also applies to table talk, which can be important in live games, but becomes a non-factor in online gaming (apart from the chatbox «talk»). Experienced live players claim that it is much easier to «profile» opponents when they play live, especially the less experienced players who tend to give away a lot of information about themselves and their hands.
The value of the money
Another big difference is the value of money. In online poker, the money is in the player’s virtual account, so with just one click, you can be sitting a high roller table for which your own bankroll might not actually be enough. The temptation is to sit down at a high table, especially when you have lost something, because you want to win it back as fast as possible. In online games, it takes a few seconds and the action continues. With live poker, it takes a lot longer for players to play when they’re on tilt.
Rakeback and other promotions
There is a big difference when we talk about rakeback, promotions, and other bonuses. Online players have access to numerous promotions, and also have the opportunity to earn a lot of extra money through good rakeback deals, as you get on YourPokerDream. In live poker, there are no such offers, and you have neither rakeback nor other promotions which could bring you extra money.
The convenience factor
Here is another big difference. While you can play online poker in bed, at your working desk, in your living room, on your phone in the park, or anywhere else (even naked in the shower if that’s what you want), live is a bit different. At a casino, you must follow the strict dress codes, you are in a crowd of people, it is noisy, and you have to consider arrival and departure times. There are people who enjoy the charm and atmosphere of a casino, while others find the experience frustrating, and just want to lie comfortably on the sofa at home and play a round poker.