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Differences Between Online Poker and Live Poker Games

1,239 Views on 18/3/23

If you're new to gambling or unsure about which way to go, we've got you covered

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When it comes to playing poker, there are two main options - playing in real-life casinos or poker rooms or playing online. Even though the basic rules are the same, there are some big differences between them. Each has its own pros and cons, so you need to think carefully about what works best for you.

If you're new to gambling or unsure about which way to go, we've got you covered. We'll walk you through what makes live and online poker unique so you can make an informed choice. Let's get started!

Poker Game Variations

One reason poker has garnered immense popularity is that there are so many different ways it can be played. Numerous variations are offered today, and the most popular ones include:

  • Texas Hold’em
  • Omaha
  • Seven-Card Stud
  • Caribbean Stud
  • Razz
  • Five-Card Draw
  • Five-Card Omaha
  • Badugi

In fact, it’s highly encouraged to explore different variants if you want to truly master the game. That’s one of the reasons why Bovada live casino offers various options for punters to dive into, including quick, easy play, minigames, anonymous tables, zone and mobile live poker.

Figuring out what kind of poker you're playing is super important if you wanna get the gist of how it works. But just as crucial is wrapping your head around the dissimilarities between each type, so you can clue yourself in on what's going on, where to begin, and how to come up with some effective tactics.

Online Poker vs. Live Poker: Key Differences

Here are the similarities, differences, and fundamental concepts that come into play when deciding between live poker and online, or looking to transition between the two.

Game Dynamics & Speed

One of the biggest variations between playing poker live and online is the tempo of the game, and that can totally affect how it all goes down. If you're used to online gambling, you might think live poker is hella sluggish. When you're playing on the web, you're used to being able to handle a bunch of tables at once and seeing approximately 60 hands per hour on each one. But playing in person means you'll be limited to a single table and an average of just 30 hands per hour.

For online players, the sluggish pace of live poker can trigger a sense of boredom, potentially influencing their gameplay decisions. However, one way to combat this is to remain attentive to what is happening at the table, even when not directly involved in a hand.

Frequency of Bad Beats

A bad beat occurs when a player loses a hand, despite being a significant favorite to win. These types of defeats are commonplace and even anticipated in poker. However, the frequency of bad beats varies between live and online poker games. In the latter, bad beats tend to occur more frequently due to the sheer volume of hands being played at a much faster pace. Essentially, the same bad beats and coolers occur as in live poker, but they occur more often in the online version.

This phenomenon is particularly prevalent in micro and lower limit games, where the lower stakes often entice players to make subpar calls that occasionally result in them outdrawing better hands.

Bet Sizes

Talking about how much you bet, there's a pretty big contrast between playing live versus online. When you're sitting at the table with real people, how much you raise at the beginning of a hand can be a lot more than when you're playing through your computer. Those internet players usually toss out 2-3 times the big blind, but when it's live and in-person, you might have to put up 6-7 times the big blind, especially if it's not a big-time game.

When it comes to tournaments, it's a bit more consistent between online and in-person showdowns. People tend to go for more predictable bet sizes in the real world.

Multiway Pots

When it comes to games played in person, the style is often more relaxed and players tend to call more frequently. This means that there are more situations where multiple players remain in the game, rather than just two going head to head.

When it comes to online games, the betting that takes place before the flop often results in just two players left at showdown. However, when playing live, it's not unusual to see several people just calling before the flop, or even after someone else has raised, which means there are more chances for multi-player showdowns.


In poker, variance means how much your winnings gyrate in the short-term, and the ups and downs of your bankroll. Online poker has a wilder variance because the game goes faster, which creates more jives than live poker.

Like, if you do online poker for a week, you can clock majorly more hands than if you do live for a week, and you'll think your variance is cranked up. But the real variance of a certain game ain't changed by whether it's online or live.

So, Which Poker is Better?

For sure, it is difficult to make an objective claim about which one is better as some players prefer live poker while others prefer online poker. Some players might limit themselves to playing just one version, but it is recommended to try both and decide which works best for you.

While online poker offers more hands and more experience, its live version offers a more relaxed and gentle setting. So, if you have access to both, it is worth experimenting with each one to determine which one suits you best.


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