Differences Between Online Poker And Live Poker

differences between online poker and live poker with a man playing poker and someone else playing online poker

If you only play online or live poker, you may make the mistake of thinking the other is very similar. In truth, there are big differences between the two that need to be realised. What makes a player win consistently won’t necessarily work in the other form. In this article we’re going to share some of the key differences between online poker and live poker so you are properly prepared to tackle both with the right attitude.

Pace of the Game  

The speed of poker is something that you can easily notice when you start playing. A lot of of gamblers are now preferring to play online poker due to the faster nature. Some find live poker far too slow and boring. Playing one table can feel boring even to the most adventurous of poker players. The dealer is much slower than online where shuffles and deals are a matter of seconds. Furthermore, players in cardrooms tend to take longer over decisions which further slowdown the pace of the game.

Conversely, online poker affords players the opportunity to play however many tables they wish. Experts will often play 4-6 tables whilst even recreational players will opt for 2 or 3. It’s worth noting that whilst the pace is faster online, the obvious drawback is the potential error of playing too many tables. If you struggle finding out how many tables to play online, take our quick quiz here.


Online poker has a flexibility that cannot be mirrored in live games. You can play any day or time you want and from practically anywhere in the world. In contrast, live poker is quite rigid. You can generally only playing in the evenings to the early morning. Depending on location, some cardrooms only get decent numbers at the weekend too.

You are also restricted in the number of tables and games available. Fewer people turn to casinos to play poker so you may have cardrooms that only have a few games on the go. So, you don’t have endless options in the format and stakes like you do on online poker sites.

Win Rates

Despite the convenience and speed favouring internet poker, live poker has proved to be more lucrative than online. Players in live games generally generate a much better poker win rate than online. The softness of games in live poker is undeniable. Live poker players have less patience and prone to weak passive plays like open-limping. A strong regular who beats NL $25 online can transfer those skills to crush games much bigger in live poker rooms.

In addition to their raw poker skills, you can manipulate the game more to your favour using skills like tells, reading people and table chit chat to further improve your earnings.

Live Poker is More Social

We are naturally social and this is heightened when we play games together. Visit any poker room and you will hear the riffling of chips, men telling bad beat stories and even political debates. If you love the solace of online poker and prefer to keep yourself to yourself, perhaps live poker isn’t for you.

When you sit at a cash game, you are engaged in a social activity. Your neighbours at the table will be doing the same, chatting and making friends. You could be forgiven you’re not playing for money but some people play poker just to play with the boys and get out of the house.


Online poker does continue to offer bonuses to new players and existing players alike. This is something live poker games don’t and won’t ever offer. These are incentives internet poker sites offer players to continue playing with them. Whilst bonuses are nowhere near as juicy as other casino games, they do still offer ways to boost your bankroll with little effort. These come in the form of matched deposit, reload bonuses and no deposit bonuses. Loyalty schemes are also popular among poker sites as a way to retain players.


Rakeback are schemes that offer players the opportunity to claim some of the rake that they’ve contributed. It’s a brilliant way to improve ones bankroll and increase profits. Live cardrooms can’t compete with online poker in this regard. They have so few tables and the admin required is just impossible. The online sites can offer this service as they have automated dealer and are not paying staff wages to deal.

Bet Sizing is Bigger in Live Poker

Live poker tends to involve bigger bets. Perhaps the concept of lower variance or small ball didn’t reach the casinos yet, but that is one thing you can expect. A typical live poker game will see raises of 5 big blinds or more. Online poker usually has opens of 2.2 to 3 big blinds. If you don’t think this is a big difference, think again. Consider your stack size when you buy in. If you are buying in for anything less than 100 big blinds, you better bring several bullets. Remember, pots are often multi-way too so it doesn’t take long for a pot to reach a significant size. Before you know it, you might be all in.

Poker Straddle

The poker straddle is an unforced bet that the person under the gun will post. It’s something that increases the pot and entices more action. I love the poker straddle and would love to see it introduced online. Why wouldn’t you want someone to put money in unnecessarily? This is something a lot of live players opt to do. Rules differ between casinos on the straddle so make sure you know what they are before playing in a game with the straddle.

This article was originally written in 2021 and has been updated.

Narciso Baldo is the Director and Head Coach of Texas Hold'em Questions. He has been playing poker for over 16 years. After spending many years as a professional, he now runs UK poker training site Texas Hold'em Questions. Narciso regularly writes poker articles sharing tips, strategy, news and experience with gambling enthusiasts. Narciso also writes for reputable gambling portal Casino City Times, (bio here). Contact: info@texasholdemquestions.com