Texas Hold’em: Online Vs. Live

Playing poker online and playing poker in person are two entirely different things. Sure, the game’s still the same, but there are a plenty of subtle differences that make each arena unique.

Managing Your Chip Stack
When you play poker online, it’s easy to manage your chip stack. You know exactly how much is in the pot, how many chips you have and you can clearly see what each player has bet. When you play live poker, you need to pay more attention to how many chips your opponents have, how many chips are in the pot, how many chips you’re holding and what bets have been made before you. In online play, it’s easier to bet half or all the pot with one simple click of a button. Playing poker in person requires more mental math. If you want to bet half the pot, you need to figure out how many chips are in the middle of the table and you have to calculate your bet all by yourself.


Reading Opponents
In live poker, reading opponents can be much easier than when you play online. In person, you get to look at your opponent’s eyes when you’re faced with a difficult call. You’ll have a much simpler time discovering the tells of the players you are up against. Body language, facial expressions and chip placement techniques can provide insight into what your opponents are thinking. In online poker, it’s a bit more challenging to get a read on your opponents. You won’t be able to see what the players at your table look like when they raise or call. There are still ways to read the players around you. Look for betting patterns. Watch what people do in certain positions. Keep track of the starting hands that your opponents choose to play. Keep in mind that bluffing is a bit easier when you’re playing poker online.

Table Image
When you play poker in a land-based casino or poker room, you will be projecting a table image for everyone to see. Your opponents will look at how you dress, how you talk and how you act at the table in order to get a better feel for what type of player you are. In online poker, appearances are much less important, especially in big free poker tournaments where you play opponents you, most likely, won’t face ever again. Your screen name and/or player icon will be the only representations of you as a person. The rest of your table image will be determined by how you play. In live poker games, you can project all kinds of images from tough guy to beach bum to well-dressed man of mystery. In online poker, you can use images, screen names and table chat to project whatever image you want, regardless of how you actually appear in person.

There are, of course, many similarities between live poker and online poker as well. Both require patience, an understanding of pot odds, hand selection and an ability to adapt to unique table situations. When considering both online and live poker formats, if you can understand the differences that exist in chip management, reading your opponents and table images, you can excel in each arena.