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Differences Between Playing Poker Online and Offline

by Jon Sofen

Poker is poker. Well, sort of. The rules – whether you’re playing online or offline – are the same. A flush beats a straight online just like it does in a live casino. And the goal of poker – to extract chips from your opponents – doesn’t differ regardless of where you’re playing. However, that’s about where the similarities between playing poker online and offline begins and ends. The online poker game is much different, in so many ways, from what you’d experience in a casino.

You can’t hide a bad poker face in a casino

I got my start playing poker in local casinos many years ago. My biggest weakness back then was my inability to hide my emotions. If I was on a tilt due to a few bad beats, I couldn’t hide it from my opponents. They knew I was on tilt. So when I bet, I got no respect from others at the table. They knew I was frustrated and trying to win back my losses.

Or when I was excited that I had a big hand, my excited emotions were evident. So when I bet, they all folded. I probably lost thousands of dollars early on in my poker career simply because I couldn’t hide my emotions. Had I started out playing online, I probably would have fared better early on. Having a good poker face online is about as useful as owning a winter coat in Florida.

More horrible poker players online

Poker players online don’t have to look their opponents in the eye, or play against them face-to-face. People act differently in person than they do online. For example, if you view political forums on the Internet, you’ll probably notice a lot of trash talking and insulting dialect. Face-to-face political discussion are far more civil.

The game of poker is similar. Players online will play more hands and chase more draws because they don’t have to worry about the inevitable criticism when they spike 2-pair after calling a 4-bet with 7-2. That’s good for you, so long as you’re patient. If your opponents want to chase draws and play junk hole cards, that’s more money for you.

Significant difference in strategy

While the basic concept of the game of poker remains the same, the great online poker players play differently than offline players. Since you can’t rely at all on physical tells online, you need to be more focused on picking up on betting habits and researching your opponents’ history. Offline, you can pick up on physical tells to gain insight into what hand your opponent is holding.

On the Internet, you have to be a little more creative. You can check an opponent’s stats but, unless you’ve played with that opponent, you won’t really know their style just from those stats. How you play against opponents you’ve never faced significantly differs online from offline. Online poker requires a more analytical thought process. Live poker requires more of a focus on instincts and hiding emotions.

Online poker is more convenient

Not to seem like an online poker site salesman, but this is completely true. Online poker simply is more convenient than playing in a casino. Even if you have plenty of poker rooms nearby, online poker is more convenient. You don’t have to shower, get dressed, and drive to the casino to play. All you have to do is turn on your computer or mobile device and start playing.

There are more games to play online. You can even multi-table (play more than one game at a time) online. You’re limited to one game in a casino. Often times, you will have to wait a while – maybe even an hour or two – just to get into a game in a brick-and-mortar poker room. On most poker sites, you’ll be able to jump into a game – if not multiple games – within a matter of seconds. The top online poker sites have enough traffic that games are available 24/7.

Online poker and playing poker in a casino are both great. I don’t want you to think playing poker in a casino is a waste of time. I love playing offline nearly as much as I do online. In fact, I think you should mix it up and play online and offline. But it’s hard to argue that online poker doesn’t have some advantages to offline poker.

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