OKBET Poker Guide: Online vs Live Poker – Differences, Pros & Cons
To determine where you should focus, compare live poker to online poker. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each and how to make a decision.
Differences, Advantages, and Disadvantages of Online vs. Live Poker
In the world of poker, one of the classic debates is online poker vs live poker, with staunch supporters of each type on either side claiming why their preferred medium is far superior to the other.
We don’t believe in childish side-taking at betandbeat.com. We’re here to give you the straight scoop on both poker game types and answer key questions like “is online poker harder than live poker?” so you can decide which one you prefer.
What Are the Differences Between Live and Online Poker?
Aside from the ability to make all of your decisions with the click of a mouse, there are many differences between online poker and live poker, and if you’re thinking about switching, it’s worth knowing what you’ll be in for. Make sure to tailor your strategies to the medium you’re using.
The speed of play is one of the most noticeable differences between online and live gaming. The game moves much faster online because dealing cards and moving chips is done electronically rather than by slow humans. There are also online timebanks that give people a specific amount of time to complete their action in – in live games, people can take as long as they want until the clock is called.
This is a significant advantage for live poker over online poker because physical tells do not exist in online poker! The closest thing you can get online is timing tells, but you can’t tell if they’re agonizing over a decision or if they just had to answer the door because you’re not in the same room.
However, it is possible to misread live tells when playing live, leading you to make the wrong decisions, so being able to see people is not always a benefit!
Poker at Multiple Tables
The ability to play multiple tables at once is a huge plus for online poker because it not only eliminates the boredom of waiting for a hand to finish at one table, but it also allows you to play a lot more hands, potentially earning you a lot more money.
Live poker can only be played at one table at a time (unless you enjoy sprinting from table to table each hand!). As a result, you can’t get into nearly as many hands as you can online.
The quality of your casino/home setup will determine whether it is more comfortable to play online or live, but even the most relaxed casino will not let you play in your underwear as you can at home!
The level of comfort at casinos and card rooms varies greatly depending on where you live; some are fully equipped with comfortable seating and great lighting, while others are full of hardback chairs in a dimly lit room – it’s all luck of the draw.
Depending on who is at your table, this can be an advantage or a disadvantage of live poker! One of the most enjoyable aspects of live poker is the social aspect; being able to chat with the people at the table, trade stories, and experiences can be the majority of the fun for some people, something that online poker does not provide.
However, a couple of jerks at the table will have you wishing that the only form of communication available is a chatbox!
This is another factor that will differ greatly depending on the casino you visit as well as the online site you use. Outside of the United States, most casinos only offer NLHE or PLO Texas Holdem cash games and NLHE tournaments, with little demand for mixed games.
Most online poker sites provide a wide range of mixed games to suit your preferences, as well as a wide range of tournament types (Knockout, Bubble Rush, Mixed Max, etc.).
If you’re playing seriously, you’ll be considering rake, and you’ll notice that rake is higher in live games than in online games. Depending on the game, there may be a 10% rake plus extra money taken out of the pot for casino promotions, whereas online, it is usually around 5%.
Even though the rake in live poker is higher, almost all live games are beatable.
Why is online poker more convenient than live poker?
The first question to ask is, “Is online poker easier than live poker?” – and I believe the answer is generally no, at least when comparing similar stake levels. However, if you look closely at the details, it may be easier in some ways. Let’s take a look at how we can make it easier.
- When playing online poker versus live poker, there are fewer distractions.
- You can use software such as HUDs to get specific information about how your opponents play.
- When playing online, you cannot give out any live reads.
- When playing cash games, you can always play at 100bb, making situations more repeatable and thus easier to learn and master.
Most online poker sites provide rakeback and promotions to help you increase your win rate.
The availability of permitted software to assist you in-game can make things much easier in online poker vs live poker – HUDs can track stats perfectly, whereas our human brains are incapable of tracking things like that.
While $1/2 cash games are far softer in person than their online counterparts, $1/2 is generally the lowest stake available in person, so comparing the game to the lowest stake available online, which is 1c/2, would be preferable. The average quality of these games will be higher in live games because there are more decent players playing $1/2 at casinos than 1c/2 cash games.
Why Is Online Poker Difficulter Than Live Poker?
Online poker is thought to be the more difficult of the two disciplines because the general level of the players is often higher than in the equivalent live game.
- Online poker has a higher average player standard than live poker.
- You are unable to make decisions based on physical cues.
- You only have a certain amount of time to make a decision before your hand is automatically folded.
- Online poker is much more aggressive than live poker, making it more difficult to realize equity/showdown marginal hands.
Your opponents have access to software such as HUDs that can analyze your playing style, allowing them to exploit you.
While we mentioned in the previous section that having software such as HUDs will be extremely beneficial to your game, keep in mind that the same software is available to the other players you’re playing against, who may use it against you.
You’ll also notice that online games are far more aggressive than live games, with far more 3betting and 4betting preflop. Being aggressive is one of the keys to winning at poker because it allows you to win hands without a showdown and forces your opponents to make difficult decisions. If your opponents are playing like this (as they do in online poker), it will be more difficult for you to win.
Changing from Live to Online Poker
While online and live poker appear to be the same game, they play very differently, and it can be difficult to adjust to one if you’re used to the other. We’ll look at the differences you’ll notice if you switch from one discipline to another.
Poker, from live to online
If you’ve only played at home or in the casino, it can be intimidating to log onto a poker site and see the long list of tables to join! Here’s what to expect if you decide to go online:
Strength in Play
The most noticeable difference between live and online poker is that the overall standard of play is much higher online. Players are more experienced simply because it is much easier to play a large number of hands online and scenarios are much more repeatable (for example, you can auto top-up online so you always play with a minimum of 100bb, which is much more difficult to do when playing live).
The pace of play will be much faster, and you’ll have to get used to making decisions in a matter of seconds because the timebanks on some sites can be harsh, and you’ll want to save as much time as possible for the difficult decisions.
Another significant difference between online and live poker is how much more aggressive the games are. When you play live, there are a lot more multiway pots because players are more likely to call raises, whereas online players are more likely to 3bet than call. Most players will 3bet with a premium hand in live poker, but in online poker, people will 3bet with all kinds of hands, so adjust your continuing ranges accordingly.
This can be viewed in a few different ways. The first is that it is much easier to play a large number of hands in online poker than in live poker, so tilt can be far more damaging to your bankroll. Being able to control your tilt and know when to quit is an important part of being a successful online player.
The second way to look at it is that you don’t have to be stoic after you’ve done something – when you’re bluffing, you can shout “FOLD!!” at your computer monitor as much as you want and it won’t matter!
From Online Poker to Live Poker
Despite the fact that online poker is a respected discipline, some will frame this debate as online poker vs.’real’ poker. These people appear to only play live, so here’s what to expect if you want to make the switch:
Strength in Play
While we’ve stated several times that online games are generally more difficult than live games, it’s important to understand why. When someone logs onto a site to play online poker, they are doing so with the specific intention of playing online poker – whether for fun, to gamble, or to win money. When someone walks into a casino, they are most likely there to gamble, and poker is merely a conduit for their gambling rather than the main reason for their visit.
It’s important to remember that the majority of people who will be sitting at your table are there to gamble and have fun, and if you’re there to earn money, you should make the game as welcoming as possible to the gamblers – otherwise, you’ll be sat with 8 identical versions of yourself!
If you’re used to mass multi-tabling 6max zoom games, switching to live poker will feel like stepping down from a Ferrari to a push-bike. It will be slow going playing one table where people aren’t on the clock to make decisions, and while most people don’t take up a lot of time for their decisions, there will be people who like to tank or don’t even realize the action is on them half the time.
While the game will be slower, there are opportunities for much higher win rates live compared to online in terms of hourly, so it’s critical to maintain focus between hands.
Aggression (or lack of) (or lack of)
While online poker is typically played as a raise or fold before the flop, limping is still very much alive and well in live poker, and you’ll see a lot of it. Anticipating this and devising a strategy for dealing with limps will give you an advantage over the other serious players at the table.
Even post-flop is much more passive than online due to the increased number of multiway pots. This inevitably leads to bluffing and value betting in smaller ranges. With marginal hands, learning to adjust to more passive action and tighter betting ranges can save you a lot of money.
It’s easy to tilt when playing online poker; losing 5 flips in half an hour and ranting at your monitors is common among online grinders, but when you play live, you’ll face a different set of challenges.
For starters, you’ll be playing with other people in the room, so your foul-mouthed rants will either get you kicked off the table or, at the very least, socially ostracized, so keeping your cool is essential.
Second, the reasons for tilt will differ slightly. Given that you’ll only see a fraction of the hands in an hour if you play live vs online, getting stuck can be difficult. Folding 20 hands, which would normally take less than a minute online, becomes an hour-long slog of watching others have all the fun splashing around in pots.
Being able to stay disciplined and stick to your strategy when your cards are dead can save you from punting off stacks just to make something happen.
Real live poker frequently attracts experienced players. Online is a more diverse mix.
While there is no clear winner between online poker and live poker, people enjoy both for different reasons. I recommend trying both and playing whichever one you like best!
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