7 Key Differences Between Online and Live Poker
Many people think that live poker and online poker are the same thing, which is probably why many opt for the convenience of online poker. But still, the two are identical as the cards are the same, as well as the rules and the mechanics of the game. Right? Well, it’s not as simple as that, and most pro players know that the two are very different from each other.
In the past, most pro players went very far in explaining the main differences between the two. Online poker pro players were on one side while the live poker professionals were on the other.
The first group would struggle with the game etiquette and simple things like holding cards or more complex ones like bluffing. On the other hand, live poker pros would try playing online poker and lose instantly, all the while complaining that the game isn’t ‘real poker.’
What Makes Live and Online Poker Different?
Even today, most say that live poker is ‘real poker’ while online poker is ‘virtual poker’. Some even say that you can’t compare the two as they are entirely different games. I wouldn’t go so far because every type of poker is always poker. Nevertheless, it’s worth pointing out the main differences between the two.
So keep reading to find out what these differences are, as you’re likely to learn something you would never have guessed before.
#1 Live Poker Is Much Slower Than Online Poker
If you’ve ever played live poker, you certainly know how slow it is and how that works more than well. You sit down at the table and play the game for quite a while. Everyone has time to think, consider what the other players are doing, and a lot more.
On the other hand, in online poker, every game is a bullet train compared to live poker. Pros often play at several tables at once or on various poker sites, and they look at hundreds of cards every hour.
Naturally, I’m not trying to say that one is better than the other as each has its charms, but the stark comparison goes to show how the speed of the two differs significantly.
There are several reasons why this is the case. In online poker, there is no manual shuffling of the cards, no one has to physically collect chips, distribute the pots, or deal the cards to each of the players. When you take all of these things and put them together, it becomes clear why live poker has to be slower.
What’s more, most players prefer to take things slowly in live poker, as many are there to have fun, while online poker players are used to the speed as it’s the same in most other online gambling games.
#2 Calling and Folding Are Completely Different
In live poker, players often prefer a looser play, so you’ll often see them doing more calling than players of online poker. This tends to create more multi-way pots, while in online poker preflop betting usually leads to more heads-up pots.
What’s also interesting here is that postflop is quite different.
Big river bluffs happen more often in live poker than they do in online poker. This is mostly because online poker players tend to make big postflop calls if they have weak or maybe medium-strength hands, which is not the case with live poker players.
Naturally, all of this is not a rule, and it can still go both ways. But it’s still impressive that preflops and postflops tend to be so completely different on average between the two types of poker.
#3 Reads and Bluffs Exist Only in Live Poker
Reads and bluffs only exist in live poker; that goes without saying. This difference is immense and matters a lot, as any live poker player can attest. Reads can be instrumental in winning a game, and good bluffs can do the same. If you manage to trick other players, you can win big without having good cards, and you can do the same if you manage to read others when they’re bluffing.
Naturally, this is virtually impossible in online poker as much as it’s impossible for live poker to be as fast as online poker. However, these differences are what make the two special in their own unique ways.
#4 Bet Sizes Can Change Freely in One But Not So Much in the Other
Bet sizes tend to vary significantly in live poker, and players will often try to open 5x in most games. What’s more, you’ll often see players calling your 3x, 5x, and even 10x if they have the money.
This goes for both preflop and postflop situations in live poker, but the same is definitely not true with online poker. Players often bet smaller amounts in most games, and you’ll rarely see others opening or calling with as much as they do in live poker.
Naturally, this isn’t always the case with tournaments, where large sums are wagered all the time in both online and live poker.
#5 Bad Beats and Their Frequency
A bad beat occurs when a poker player calls even though they have a terrible hand. Then they easily lose the bet when the cards are revealed.
This is a common occurrence in online poker where people tend to call more often with bad hands, usually in an effort to outdraw players with better hands. This can work sometimes, and players do it quite often, especially if the limits are low.
The same thing rarely occurs in live poker, even though players call more often.
#6 Building an Image in Live Poker
Players of live poker can create a specific image of themselves in a single session or for the long run with the same players.
Some use this to their advantage as people can easily form an opinion of you if they are looking at you and what you’re doing.
Creating an image matters to many as it helps in bluffing, while on the other hand, most people pay attention to other players to try and learn their strategy. This can help them beat their opponents.
As you can expect, players don’t really notice other players in online poker. As no one can see each other, every player is practically the same, unless they really stand out by making too many mistakes or if they’re winning too often.
#7 Win Rates and Hourly Profits
The pace of the two types of poker doesn’t only influence the feel of the game; it also changes how much players win.
Naturally, you can win big in both types of poker, but the win rates and hourly profits are completely different between the two.
Win rates tend to be much higher in live poker, as players play longer and tend to invest more money. As for online poker, players invest less, but they can still earn a lot more in a single hour due to the fast nature of online poker games.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, there are many differences between live and online poker, some of which are quite noticeable and can change the nature of the game, while others don’t affect the game by much.
The important thing here is that the differences make both pokers special and compelling in their own rights. What’s more, no distinction should be viewed as an advantage of one type of poker over the other, and that’s not the point of this comparison.
The point of this is to inspire you to try out both types of poker and enjoy both, as each version has something amazing to offer.