Millions of people play poker,and these days, it's easier than ever to find a game. Online poker sites have become the most popular way to play, offering convenience and reliability. Before online poker, the game was still very popular, with people playing in poker rooms and casinos all over the world. While online poker has become more popular and helped grow the game, many players still prefer to play at live tables, and poker rooms aren't going away anytime soon. Both live poker and online poker offer their own advantages and disadvantages, and it's unfair to say that one is better than the other.
Whether you prefer online or live games will probably come down to personal preference, and it's worth trying out both if you're a beginner. While poker is the same game when played online or inperson, there are some major differences that are hard to ignore. Here are some of the main differences that you'll notice when playing online poker vs. live poker.
The Pace of the Game
Games tend to move a lot faster than live poker when playing online. Many online players will play at several tables at once, seeing a few hundred hands an hour, while you can only sit at one table at a time when playing live. Even if you're not playing at multiple tables at once, online play is still usually a lot faster. This is because the cards are always shown automatically, with no waiting for the dealer to shuffle, deal and collect chips. Many players will take their time when playing live poker, especially in low-stakes games. They may be there to socialize and chat as well as play, meaning that it can take longer for them to make a move. Generally, you'll see around 30-40 hands an hour when playing live games.
Difficult of the Game
Generally speaking, the competition when playing online tends to be a lot fiercer. This can vary depending on where you play, but low-stakes games in particular tend to be easier when playing live. Online poker is where a lot of extremely dedicated grinders play, and they know their poker strategy inside out. Most hobby players will get put off by online games, but live games are a fun day out for them. As a result, there are usually easier pickings for experienced players at live games compared to online tables. Of course, once you get to the big-stakes games, this changes a bit. More experienced players ply their trade at higher stakes, and the competition is more even between live and online games.
The main advantage of playing live games is that you can see your opponents and how they react to the game. Although you can make some reads off of online players, you're limited in that you can't see their faces or body language. If you're at a live table, you might be able to read the strength of an opponent's hand by studying how they react over the course of a game. While the pros are normally extremely good at staying cool and not giving anything away, recreational and inexperienced players are more likely to have tells or give subtle clues about how they're feeling.
The most common variation of poker is Texas Hold 'Em, and this is the game that's offered at all poker sites and poker rooms. However, there are plenty of other versions of the game, all of which have their own unique rules and ways to play. The common theme between all poker games is the hand rankings and the idea that the player must create the best possible hand to win. Different versions such as stud poker, draw poker, and Omaha poker use slightly different rules. For example, draw poker doesn't feature community cards, and players are dealt five cards, of which they can exchange up to three. On the other hand, Omaha uses community cards, but each player is dealt four hole cards. When you play online, you'll usually have a much wider variety of game types to choose from. Poker rooms may sometimes offer different poker variants, but you'll have far more options online.
The rake is the percentage of the pot that goes to the poker site or poker room. You'll always need to pay rake any time you play poker, as this is how poker game organizers make their money. The rake size will depend on where you play and the game you play, with fixed rakes being the most common. Less common are the uncapped rakes, which will simply take a fixed amount from each pot, no matter how big it is. While it can be frustrating to lose a percentage of your winnings to the rake, there wouldn't be any games to play without it. Both live games and online poker feature rake, but the rake tends to be much larger for live games. This is because there are larger overhead costs associated with holding a live game, and there are only so many tables that can seat players.
Access to Tools
When playing online, you have access to tools, stats, and data analysis that can benefit your game and help you improve. Most top poker players use some kind of software either as they play or after games to analyze how they played. When you're starting out, this can be really useful for learning where you went wrong and how to fix mistakes. Although you shouldn't rely on these tools, they're very useful for online play. Unfortunately, you can't use software tools when playing live games, so you have to rely on knowing your strategy well.
Flexibility and Convenience
It goes without saying that online poker offers a convenience that live games can't match. You can log into your favorite poker site and play wherever you are, with many sites now accessible on mobile. It's much simpler compared to a poker room, where you'd need to travel to and then wait for a table. Online poker also offers far more flexibility, as you can play any time you like. Poker tables are available at all times, provided you're in a large room with a lot of traffic. This means that regardless of your schedule, you can always get online and play.
With how easy online poker is to access, it's little surprise that so many people now choose to play online. However, live poker still has its benefits and is worth trying out if you've only ever played at poker sites. Depending on your preferences, you'll likely prefer one way of playing over the other, but both are a lot of fun and can be profitable if you know your cards.