8 major differences between live and online poker

For the majority of us, online poker is the only way that we’re able to regularly get a fix of our favourite card game. 

Casinos, depending on whereabouts you may live, can be few and far between so there’s very little choice if we fancy playing a couple of games in the evening. After all, not all of us can afford a spontaneous trip to Vegas when we’re in the mood for a game of cards. 

There may be the odd local game in the bar or in a buddies kitchen, but for the most part, we’re stuck to the online games (for good or for bad) if we’re wanting to wager. However, there are some noteworthy and mentionable differences when looking at live and online poker. 

Not quite sure what we’re talking about? Here are 8 of the biggest differences between live and online poker that you can expect to see when comparing the games. 

1. The pace of the game 

One of the biggest differences between online and live games is the pace at which the game is played. 

If you’re a player that gets impatient playing hands for long periods of time, live games aren’t going to appeal all that much with an estimated 30 hands per hour. With an online game, players will usually see double the number of hands, much better for impatient players. 

If the online game still doesn’t quite cut the mustard, there’s always the option of multi-tabling to play many, many more hands per hour than would be possible in the live game. 

2. The number of tells 

In a live game, everything’s out in the open with players sat around the table, usually attempting some sort of disguise (glasses and hat combo), meaning all tells can be seen and the poker face has to be very much on (hilarious guide here on how to make it). 

In the online game, players don’t quite have the same number of tells with faces, body language and conversation all emitted from the game. Granted, there are still different ways to identify hand quality (betting patterns etc.) but for players that like to read others around the table, they won’t find quite as much luck online. 

It does always help when someone’s firing out insults in the chatbox though, that means tilt and tilt means easy pickings!

3. Relative stakes 

For various reasons, an online game played at the same limit as a live game will usually contain a much higher density of skilled players. 

If we take a simple $1/$2 NL cash game, for example, players will see fewer tough opponents than you’d expect in $1/$2 NL online game. As a general rule, it’s good to use the “10-to-1” guideline when comparing the live and online stakes games. 

You might be surprised just how few smaller stakes games exist in the live poker world, after all, it’s hard to attract a whale if the casino is full of budget-friendly games (check out this article if you don’t know what a whale is). 

4. Calling vs. folding 

When playing online, players will find opponents more likely to make larger postflop calls with weak-to-medium strength hands than we would expect in a live game. 

That means that you’re more likely to see big river bluffs slip through the cracks and get through more often in live games than you’ll see online. Granted this is all dependent on the players that you’re against, but as a general rule, that’s what we expect to see. 

If we look into the reasoning behind the tendency, we see that the simple click of the “call” button when playing online might be responsible. It’s much easier and much faster to call online and if it doesn’t go quite to plan, players don’t have to face the embarrassment in person. 

5. Multi-way vs. heads-up pots

When looking towards the live games, players are much more likely to play looser with a higher number of players calling. 

Players will find that this usually leads to more multi-way pots than you’d expect in a typical online game in which heads-up situations tend to stem from preflop betting. 

Multi-way situations are common in live games thanks to limpers preflop and/or callers of a preflop raise, leading to more players in the pot. 

6. Money means more to online players

When playing online, you’re much more likely to come across younger players at the tables. 

As a general rule, for these younger players, you’ll see them just starting out and often unable to enter in the higher stakes games that casino’s offer. As a result, you’ll often be playing against players that are a little more careful with their funds.

Adrian Sirea, of OnlineCasinoGems, explains: “When looking at online games and comparing them to live games, the average age has a noteworthy difference. With a younger [online] audience, money means more, so you can expect tighter play.”

Put simply, online players are more guarded of their bankroll, so you won’t catch them playing slots and video poker anytime soon, something to note when playing. 

7. Online players can make notes on opponents

If you’re sat at around the table in a standard live game and pull out a notepad, jotting down the play characteristics of your opponents, you’re not going to be sat down for much longer, but do it online and you’re a smart and effective player. 

The majority of the software available today will allow players to add notes on their opponents, documented their play styles for reference if they’re playing again in the future. This is a fantastic tool to use and a pain to play against and there’s very little similar in the live game. 

Granted you may come across someone in the casino a few times, but you’re unlikely to remember how they play. Take it online and you won’t have to – you’ll have your notes at the ready. 

8. Online poker brings the best players

In recent years, there’s been an influx of players taking to poker rooms to make a living from their front room. 

By targeting online games and putting their skills to use, players from around the world have turned their hobby into a full-time job, some of whom are becoming incredibly successful. With the cat out of the bag and more and more players shooting for the stars, it’s hardly a surprise that the very best poker players and hitting up the online games. 

For the chance of becoming a professional poker player, it’s something that’s only going to get more popular.