Live Poker vs. Online Poker: Tips for Getting the Highest Value from Each

A common question that arises when you develop an interest in poker is whether playing it live will make for a better experience or if, alternatively, an online experience will be more a more valuable one. At their core, the games are the same whether you play traditional poker in person with other players or you choose to compete against them online. The skills required to bluff, fold correctly, and place bets are similar, and perhaps the only real differences are in the number of hands you can get in per hour as well as physical tells you might be able to gauge from your opponents.  With that said, many players have given a different answer, saying online poker is like a video game while live poker is more akin to a real sport; almost like one is chess while the other is checkers.

straight flush

With all of that said, to be sure, both live poker and online poker have evolved and grown over the last couple of decades. Players have gotten better, and skill sets of the most successful players have gotten quite well-honed. Whether due to technological advancement or purely players just putting in the study time with materials from the best poker training sites, the game has gotten tougher than ever to beat both live and online. At a most basic level, you need to be aware of the differences between online and live poker for a well-guided experience. Here are some of the differences which you may consider.

Multi-Way Pots versus Heads-Up Pots

Players tend to be a lot looser in live poker and try to “catch” their opponents while chasing winning cards with inferior holdings. Consequently, multi-way pots are somewhat more likely to develop in live poker vs. the online game, where preflop betting tends to make it more of a heads-up pot situation.

Bet Sizing

When you compare live poker games and the beginning of preflop betting and raising in online poker, you will encounter a different bet sizing standard set in the online mode. The online game features players opening with a bet size of 2x, 2.5x, or 3x probably while the opening size for players in live poker often being 5x to 6x. Bet sizing also tends to vary widely when comparing cash games to tournament play, both live and online. If you’re looking to enhance your online cash game or tournament experience, know that Great Lakes Stakes have promo codes on PokerStars to make your experience more vivid and enjoyable.

How Frequent Bad Beats Are

Players online tend to experience more frequent bad beats than live players for a variety of reasons. First off, online you can play for microstakes, as low as $.01/.02. When playing for such low amounts of money, some people just throw proper poker strategy to the wind, resulting in many suckouts. Moreover, there are just SO many more hands played per hour online (often twice or even three times as much), so bad beats will appear to be more frequent online even if on a per hand basis they happen with similar regularity as live poker.

beginners poker

The Pace of the Game

One of the obvious differences between the game of poker online and offline is the pace of the game. Online poker is way faster than traditional poker because of the technological fronts. There are no “dealer errors” plus “tanking” is limited with less time available for decision making online, even with time banks. Pots also get split instantly, and the games just run automatically and smoothly, harnessing the built-in technological advantage.

3 Tips to Rule the Online and Live Poker Games

It is always beneficial to know some tips and strategies before you sit down to play at the felt. Whether you play online or live, you must focus on certain strategies to make your game better and also enhance your experience.

royal flush

Choose your starting hands carefully

Especially if you’re a beginner, you want to have a tight range of hands to open, bet, and raise with. Hands like pairs, A-K to A-10, etc. When you get involved in pots with inferior holdings, you’re likely to lose either a little or a lot, depending on how well your opponents play and how well they know how to punish you. While they’ll clearly peg you as a tight player, limiting the amount you’ll be able to win from them, that’s better than being taken advantage of by entering pots with bad hands and finding yourself either not knowing what to to or dominated by better hands.

Try to think in terms of hand ranges as opposed to specific hands

With so many potential hands a player could be holding, it’s far easier to try and place them on a range of hands than on specific hands. As such, that’s something that should factor into your calculations of pot odds. In other words, rather than assume a player has a pair with a solid kicker, it’s better to think something like “my opponent could have anything from a good pair with a good kicker to combinations draws for possible flushes and straights; I can beat most of that, so I should raise (even if I might be behind the top part of his range)”.

Recognize patterns in the game

It is true that the starting hands you decide to get involved in pots with determine how gameplay will go, but that’s not the be all and end all when it comes to being able to win. You need to recognize patters in your opponents. If they always seem to 3-bet, then logic dictates they can’t always “have the goods,” and you should consider 4-betting sometimes, even when you don’t have a good starting hand, as they might be bluffing. A lot of information can be extracted from a player’s betting style, both in tournaments and cash game play. Also, be sure to pay attention to how your opponents play even when you’re not directly involved in a hand, such that you might be able to pick up some helpful insights re: how you can exploit them in future hands.

Final Words

Poker has been a beloved pastime for ages, and with evolving technology, online poker has gained popularity in the world, too. With that said, nothing can surpass the emotional experience of playing live poker. Whichever version of poker you choose to focus on, just be advised that you should go in prepared to maximize your experience, minimize your losses, and compete at your best.



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Written By.

Robbie Strazynski

Robbie founded in 2009. A veteran member of the poker media corps, in addition to writing and video presenting, Robbie has hosted multiple poker podcasts over the years, including Top Pair, the Red Chip Poker Podcast, The Orbit, and the CardsChat Podcast. In 2019, Robbie translated the autobiography of Poker Hall of Famer Eli […]

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