How Is Online Poker Different From Live?
Last Updated: June 11, 2022
The rules for live poker are the same as the rules for online poker for Texas Hold’em and other types. The button moves around the virtual or live table clockwise, and the action is the same. Another similarity is that you’re always betting chips.
Concepts such as hand ranges, value betting, bluffing, and pot odds are equally valid in both types of poker.
The strategies remain unchanged, although you might need to make certain adjustments when you switch from online to live or vice versa.
However, if you don’t adapt to the different nuances, you can reckon with mistakes and even losses. This article discusses the main differences between live poker and online poker and how to adjust your playing action.
- Live players are generally easier to play against
- Online is too fast for some
- Tells, reads, and table images change
- More aggression online
- Multi-tabling becomes possible online
- Variance increases online
Difficulty and Speed
Even the fastest dealer can’t match a computer’s speed. Live players also take longer to count chips, check their cards, and judge their opponents.
When playing poker games online, there is no counting, and cards are dealt automatically. Hands are much faster, and your time to make a decision is capped.
You can play fewer hands over a month of live play than on a single day online.
Online poker is also harder than live poker at the same stakes. Online games are more structured, while live games can be more relaxed and social.
Only professional players can afford to multi-table in real life. It is where you play two tables simultaneously. Even pros find it hard and aren’t particularly successful at it.
It’s easier to play at more than one table if you’re playing online. Poker sites have designed the software in such a way as to tile or stack tables.
If you play at more than one table, you play more hands an hour. It won’t be easy to find tables with slightly above-average stakes and weak players. More skilled multi-tabling players create a disbalance between weaker and stronger players.
Spotting the Signs
There are still efforts to spot physical tells when playing live. There are none of those online, so modern players competing online think about game theory, math, and hand ranges.
Still, it’s possible to make some inferences. For instance, you can pay attention to positions and how much people bet. You can try to establish patterns.
Playing online improves your technical skills.
If playing live, look at hand movements, breathing, pulsing, and eye movements. Reading them should become easy if you always play with the same people.
Timing is probably the most important tell if you’re playing online. If someone is tanking, this person probably has a weak hand. Tanking means taking a lot of time to think before making a move.
On the other hand, a fast check-raise often means strong cards.
What about if someone waits a long time, then makes a huge raise? Maybe they don’t know what they’re doing due to lack of experience or another reason.
Spotting an Aggressive Player Online
Based on statistics from a classic game with a maximum of six players, here’s how to spot a loose-aggressive player:
- PFR: 25+.
- VPIP: 25+.
- 3-bet %: +7%.
- Aggression factor: 3+.
- Aggression frequency: 60+
- Raise/check-raise flop: High
To take advantage of an online opponent’s poor skills:
- Adopt a tight-aggressive style.
- Raise and play strong hands.
- With an aggressive player, find a balance between trapping them and limping.
Heads-up vs. Multiway Pots
You’ll probably have more multiway pots live because live games encourage more calls and looser play. Players are willing to hit a disguised hand and limp with a wider range.
On the other hand, online pots are typically heads-up to the flop. A player having a strong hand is more likely with more players.
It’s harder to make big post-flop calls with medium or weak hands online than when playing live. That’s why a big bluff is harder to pull off online. Perhaps this is because the embarrassment of a wrong call is harder to deal with in person.