Online Poker vs Live Poker – The Main Differences

online poker vs live poker

Online Poker vs Live Poker

The rules of poker do not change based on where you are, but there are many differences between online poker and live poker. If you are only used to one and considering playing the other, this article will inform you of the biggest differences and prepare you better. By staying informed, you will also learn whether it’s more profitable to play one or the other.  

More Multiway Pots Live

Online poker is generally tighter than poker at the casino. Online players are often multi-tabling and don’t have a problem with patience. Live poker at casinos has more players at the flop due to the impatience of players. In a live game, players have a desire to be involved and play pots. They don’t want to drive to the casino and sit folding for hours. This results in a looser game, often with 3 to 5 players at the flop.

The Difference in Stakes (Ability)

If you’re used to playing online at $1/$2 no limit Texas Hold’em, don’t sit at the same game in a casino and expect it to be the same calibre. There’s a rule many poker players apply called the ten to one rule. In short, whatever stakes you usually play and win at online, multiply it by 10 to get the same standard in a casino. Why is this? Casino’s don’t have penny stakes, so the lowest stakes games are the more beginner players.

Game Speed

One of the most obvious differences between online poker vs live poker is the pace which the game flows. Online poker is very quick, with the ability to play hundreds of hands an hour. It was made even faster when games like Snap poker were introduced. Live poker is much slower paced. Think about, the dealer has to shuffle and deal (online this is automated). Live poker players tend to take longer over their decisions too. Interestingly, online poker players who play super-fast with 10 tables come to a casino and take ages too!

Live Poker Tells

As great as online poker is, the inability to look at your opponent means you have to rely on everything else to read them. In live poker, your opponent is there in front of you. There is more information available, including poker tells. Without going into the specifics of different poker tells, suffice to say, there are many ways a poker player will unwittingly reveal their hand strength. This important part of live poker is largely absent from online poker. Instead, you must trust your instinct, watch for betting patterns and notice change any changes in speed of decision making to make a read. Check out our article on online poker tells for more detail.

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.

Bet Sizing

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. If you want to see more about the straddle. Check out our poker straddle article.

Weekend Games

Live poker booms at the weekend. People are off work and ready to game. Whilst this is true online. It is not to the same extent. Go online any day of the week and it will be busy. This is probably due to timing differences around the globe. This is not the same at the casino. People have jobs and better things to do than play poker on Monday night. What does this mean? It means weekends are the best times to play poker at the casino. You can take the egotistical businessmen to school if you are willing to stay late.