Main Differences Between Live and Online Poker

Are you aware of these differences between live and online poker?

Live and online poker are almost exactly the same game, although there are some major differences. The rules are the same in that a flush beats a straight. Tournaments play the same, as do cash game, but there are several differences between the live and online game.

Winning players tend to play both live and online poker instead of focussing on one. That said, there are some players who solely play live poker and those who only grind online. While the games are the same wherever you play them, you could be in for a shock if you only ever stuck to one format.

Speed of Play is the Biggest Difference Between Live and Online Poker

The biggest difference you notice between live and online poker is the speed the game plays out. Live poker players are lucky if they are dealt 30 hands per hour. Online poker players scream from the rooftops if they do not average 80-100 hands per hour per table.

This lower dealing rate has a profound effect on your win rate. Players of online poker tend to measure their cash game win rate in bb/100. That is, how many big blinds they win every 100 hands dealt. They then convert this into an hourly rate. For example, you win at a rate of 5bb/100 in a $1/$2 online cash game, or $10 every 100 hands dealt. Your win rate is $10 per hour if you play one table with 100 hands dealt every 60-minutes.

The same win rate live would see you earn only $3 per hour using the same figures, a major difference. Thankfully, one of the other differences between the two types of poker makes up for this.

Live Poker Players Tend To Be Worse Than Online Players

A debate on who is better at poker, live or online players, has raged on for years. Some believe online poker is rigged to allow certain people win. Online players believe they are far superior to their live counterparts.

We are ending that debate once and for all. The better poker players, in general, play online poker. Think of it this way, to improve at poker you have to gain experience through playing hands. Those grinding online play more than 2.5 times the number of hands per hour in cash games. They can also play dozens of tables at once.

Where a live cash game player sitting down for 30 hours each week may play 900 hands, an online equivalent can easily play that per hour.

The same can be said for tournament players. Even the most dedicated live tournament player will struggle to play more than 150 tournaments in a year. Online MTT grinders get through thousands per week. That extra experience alone makes online poker players better than live players.

Another difference between players, and one that makes people believe online players are better, is the overall style of each sub-group. Live poker players tend to play more passive and online players more aggressive. This is partly because bluffing online only needs the click of a mouse. Live, you have to stare down your opponent and face them if you are caught!

It’s Easier To Keep Track Online

Everything online is automatic, while live players have to deal with a lot of information. New poker players should opt for online first because it is much easier than live to keep track of.

A big difference between live and online poker is online is automated. The software posts your blinds and antes for you. Your screen flashes when it is your turn to act. It is easy to see how much everyone has bet and how large the pot is.

Now think of a live poker game. The dealer may have to continually tell you it is your turn to act. There are no indicators as to how many chips are in the pot. Sure, you can count the chips in a live poker game, although it distracts from you making your decision.

These are the three main differences, make sure you are aware of them the next time you try your arm at a different discipline.

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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