13 Key Differences Between Live and Online Poker

Playing poker online is similar to playing live with some key differences. Some of them are good and some aren’t. Here’s a list of the most significant differences between face-to-face and online poker.

Comparison of live and online poker

Positives of playing online

  • More hands per hour online (good)
  • More table options online (good)
  • Ability to play more than one poker table at a time online (good)
  • Ability to earn free money through bonuses online (good)
  • Easier to track your play online (good)
  • No socializing while playing online (good or bad depending on your personality)
  • Don’t have to leave home (good)
  • No tipping online (good)
  • Don’t have to go to a public bathroom when playing online (good)
  • You can start playing at micro limits online (good)

Negatives of playing online

  • Harder to read tells online (bad)
  • More difficult to move money around online (bad)
  • No free drinks online (bad)
  • Online poker inherently lacks the classic thrill of playing with actual cards, chips, and people (bad)

Safety concerns about online poker

One of the most common questions I read about online poker is if it’s safe to play.

I’ve played at over 20 different online poker rooms over the years and have been fortunate enough to never have been taken advantage of by an online room.

Sadly a few online poker rooms have closed over the years and a few have stolen money deposited by the players. One of the pages I’ve found on the best poker websites for US citizens gives some decent logic on why it just doesn’t happen with industry stalwarts. While outright theft doesn’t happen often, you can follow a few simple tips to help you have a safe online experience.

Checklist for keeping yourself safe at online sites

  1. Find a poker room that has a solid track record of safe play and quality customer service. You can find out how long a site has been in business and you can read reviews found on trusted online review sites. Make sure you read reviews from a trusted source. Some sites make all of their reviews positive instead of pointing out the flaws at some rooms.
  2. Make sure the site offers real money play where you live. Some poker rooms only operate in certain jurisdictions. The same reason some poker rooms only offer real money games in some areas makes it challenging to move money into and out of some poker rooms.
  3. Sign up for a free account and play on the play money tables before making a real money deposit.
  4. When you start playing for real money play at a lower limit than you usually play at your local poker room. Make sure you can win consistently at the lower levels before you move up to higher levels.

If I win at live poker will I win online?

If you’re a good enough poker player to win consistently playing live you have all of the skills needed to win online. But many players have an adjustment period when they start playing online, which can often lead to tilt.

The same tight aggressive play that works best in live games works best in online games. The rate of play is faster online but all of the same basic strategy works in all games.

Table selection is one of the best parts about playing online

One of the largest advantages of playing online that any player can take advantage of is table selection. Most players jump into the first game they can find because they’re impatient.

If you take a few minutes to find a table filled with players who aren’t as good as you your results will start improving instantly.

If you walked into your local poker room and saw two seats were open. One was at a table filled with the best players you know. At least half of them are as good as you and the rest aren’t far behind.

The other seat is at a table with the worst poker players you know and most of them are drunk.

Of course you’re going to play at the second table.

Easy note-taking is another big plus for online poker

When you first start playing online you won’t know anything about your opponents. But as you play you need to start taking notes about each person you play against.

Eventually you’ll build a database of players and be able to play at tables filled with poor players. But you’ll only be able to do this if you start collecting information immediately.