On the one hand, whether you play poker in a casino or play poker ion club on your computer, it’s still the same game. Flush beat straight on both. In both games, players bet and bluff, pass and receive bad beats. Many technologies developed in one format are easily converted to another. Then again, many players convincingly argue that the game couldn’t be more different. It’s like comparing chess and chess, some suggest. Online poker, video games and live poker are more like sports. The First One is virtual and the other one is a real time. In the not-so-distant past, there was a time when the differences between “live poker players” and “online poker players” were stark. Many experts belong to one group and basically ignore the others. You’ll hear of “live pro” attempts online but to no avail (some complain that the game isn’t “real” poker). Then there will be “online experts” who appear at live events and struggle with cards and chips or game etiquette.
With most of today’s top players and many players of all levels playing online and live, there is a lot more overlap. Those involved in both should be aware of the differences in the way each game is played. What the difference live poker and online poker? And which of these differences is the most important for players to jump over each other? There are a few differences to consider when thinking about the answer.
In live cash games, you will find different bet sizes than you will find online, especially with regard to opening preflop raises. Online cash games may feature players with 2x, 2.5x or 3x big blind openings, but live games with very low stakes (eg $1/$2 NL). Tournaments are a different story, but sometimes you can find live players, especially inexperienced players struggling to keep track of pot sizes.
Multiway vs Head Pot
That said, you will often find loose play in the form of players making more calls, generally in live games. One consequence of this trend is that there are more multiway pots happening in person than online, where preflop betting more often creates an early situation. It’s not uncommon to witness multiple preflop limpers and/or multiple preflop raise callers in a live cash game session to create a multiway situation.
Call vs Folding
On the other hand, if live players are often looser than online players on preflop calls, the postflop situation tends to play out differently. You will find that online players actually tend to make big postflop calls with weak or medium strength hands rather than straight. That said, Big River Bluffs tend to be played more often in person than online (of course, it all depends on the player and the situation). One explanation for this trend is the fact that many players find it easier to click the “Call” button than to undergo a difficult call. Making calls online is easier because you don’t have to endure the embarrassment of guessing the call wrong.
Bad Beat Frequency
Many players report experiencing the “bad bit” more often online than in person, in part because they tend to meet more callers online. This is especially true at the “micro” and online lower end. Small bets push calls further with lower hands sometimes outperforming better hands. Of course, another big difference between live poker and online poker is the feeling that bad things happen more often online.
One of the most obvious superficial differences between live poker and online poker is the speed of play. Online poker plays much faster than live poker, and some people who prefer to play online find it too tedious to endure it. Around 30 hands per hour can be dealt in unlimited cash games, but online you can see 60 (or more) hands per hour at certain tables, and many more in shorthand games. The multi-table online feature also means you play a lot more hands per hour than would be possible in person. For this reason, the impression of being slightly worse online can be overstated. In fact, it seems like you experience more things online because you play more hands, which in turn affects you.
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Difference Between Online Poker And Live Poker
“Dispersion” is a term commonly used in poker to describe the “swing” it undergoes. Higher “variation” means greater gains and losses in the short term compared to the long term results. The higher speed of online play actually artificially affects what is “short term”. If you’ve been playing a week online and playing live poker for a week, you could get 10x the number of hands you would have played, giving the impression that the dispersion has increased significantly. Even an artificially made difference, when played online, this “higher” difference can mean faster and more significant fluctuations in funds over a shorter period of time than would normally occur in person. This means that money management when playing online requires a different approach, usually when you want to save more money (in the case of cash game purchases or tournament entry fees) than you need when playing live.