Online vs. Live Poker

Without a doubt, poker is the most popular card game for gambling. Although blackjack is a very common casino game in its own right, no other game has been so widely played from kitchen tables to garages to public and private rooms all across the world. 


Ever since the game exploded onto the scene in the early 2000s with the popularity of Texas Hold’em, more and more people have fallen in love with playing it. This brought new and exciting opportunities in the form of online poker rooms. 


After years of working out all of the bugs, perfecting the software, and bringing the game from the shady overseas providers to regulated and licensed state-approved websites, now the opportunity to play from the comfort of your own home is available. 


How do you choose whether online or live play is right for you? Well, in today’s article, we will take a look at the differences between the two.


What is live poker?


Live poker is any version of the game that is played in a physical location with real players and a real dealer. While this is usually played in a casino or card room, people have hosted games with family and friends at their homes, places of business after hours, bars and clubs, and many other locations.


What is online poker?


Online poker plays by exactly the same rules and procedures as live poker. However, it is played on a website or app, using software known as a pseudo-random number generator to produce the cards dealt to each player and on the board.

What are the differences between live and online poker?


There are many, many differences when it comes to playing online and live. The first thing that would obviously come to mind is the other players. When you play live, you are usually seated with up to eight other people (when the table is full). 


With online poker, you can be sitting on your couch or lying in bed. Of course, this is just one of several distinctions that can be drawn between these two poker variations. Here are a few more:


  • Pace of the game (online is significantly faster)
  • No physical chips needed
  • Ability to multi-table
  • Tournament sizes
  • Bet sizes
  • Quality of the competition


There are dozens more examples that we could name, but the purpose of this article is not to give an exhaustive list of the differences between the two games, but rather to give you an idea of what each game is like. Let’s take a further look at some of the benefits of each type of poker.


What are some of the advantages of playing live?


Although the game of poker has exploded onto the online scene in the last 15+ years, it was being played live for a couple of hundred years before that. Tales of crooked card games and shootouts in Old West saloons are engrained in our culture. Playing live comes with plenty of perks. Here are some examples:


  • Being able to see the players and ‘read’ them
  • Atmosphere and social experience
  • Instant payouts
  • Slower pace for beginners


We could list a number of other things that some people prefer about playing live, but you get the idea. There is something to be said about sitting down at a real-world table around other people and having the total experience of poker, especially in a nice casino or card room. However, there are also several things that can be said for the online option.


What are some of the advantages of playing online?


When it comes to playing poker online, several benefits can be listed. This is because with so many different online poker sites all competing for the same players, there can be a lot of enticing offers and opportunities available. Here is a list of some of the advantages:


  • Faster pace
  • You can play multiple tables at once
  • Bigger tournaments
  • Several different game variants to choose from
  • Softer games
  • Cash bonuses
  • Generous promotions


There are a number of other perks that we could mention, but the point is just to give you an idea of what you can expect when choosing between online poker and live play. However, one other benefit is worth mentioning on its own: convenience. 


It’s not always easy (or even possible) to get up, get dressed, and drive out to the casino or card room after a long day, or perhaps when you may not be feeling well. With online poker, you can log in and play anytime.


Basic strategies for live poker


In this section, we wanted to offer a little helpful advice for playing in each type of poker environment. Many times, things that may not be a mistake when playing online can be when playing live, and vice versa.


For example, one thing you should always do when playing live poker is to be mindful of your physical actions. These are referred to as ‘tells’. Some people tend to do certain things when they are bluffing or when they have a strong hand. You may unknowingly stack your chips one way when you have the goods and another when you are trying to steal the pot.


Other examples of good strategy include:


  • Always bet the same amounts whether bluffing or stealing
  • Be disciplined about hand selection
  • Don’t get ‘chatty’ when you’re involved in a big hand (you may give something away)
  • Don’t bring more money than you can afford to lose


Basic strategies for online poker


Since the details and dynamics of online poker can be so different from live play, we wanted to close our guide with a few simple yet helpful strategies for playing your best internet game:


  • Be selective about your table (don’t play with a bunch of sharks)
  • Set a time to end the session (it’s easy to keep playing way past when you planned online)
  • Don’t play too high stakes just because they are available


Regardless of whether you end up playing online or in person, the fact is that this game provides one of the most fun and entertaining ways to spend your time and money. For many people, it’s a social experience. For others, it’s the thrill of the win. No matter what it is for you, just remember to play responsibly and have a good time!



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