Online Poker Versus Physical Poker

How Does Poker Online Differ From Real-Life Poker?

Although both are essentially the same game, but still there are notable differences between the two. The fundamentals of the game are largely the same either way. However, the overall experience you get from playing poker online is not the same as the experience you get from playing in real life. You simply cannot ignore these differences as they can have a significant impact on certain aspects of the game.  
One of the most apparent differences between the two formats is the pace of the game. If you are coming from an online background, you can get bored with the slow pace of real-life poker. In real-life poker, you are limited to just one table and 20 – 30 hands every hour whereas in the online format you can play several tables and up to 60+ hand per hour.
Playing a poker cash game in real life is relatively softer than its online counterpart. For instance, an online NL25 table will be much tougher than most real-life NL200 games. The reason is that many online players are much dedicated and constantly learn the game. They don’t make many mistakes whereas, in casinos, players usually play for fun and don’t work hard at improving their game. 
In real-life poker, you can have a laugh and a joke with opponents. It just adds a little something extra to your overall experience while playing. This social factor makes this format more enjoyable. It is perhaps counted as the drawback of online format. 
When you can actually see your opponents at the table, you are able to get a lot of information that you can’t pick when playing online. In real life poker games, tells are more important and applicable than online format. While tells are mainly limited to the timing and bet sizing in poker online, in real-life games you will be able to read the behavior of other players and factor them in when making your game strategy.
Playing the game online is more convenient as compared to playing in real life. You just don’t need to be in a special dress, travel to the casino, register yourself, pay for parking, and so on. The online format gives you the advantage that you can play from the comfort of your own home. 

Poker Cards

The Most Popular Variant in Online and Real-Life Poker

There are so many variants in both online and real-life poker, however, the most popular one is Texas Hold’em. Before this variant, seven card stud was the most popular poker game. Its popularity surged in the 2000s as it got exposure on popular literature, internet, and television. It was chosen for the widely televised events like World Series of Poker (WSOP) and World Poker Tour (WPT). Many other variants are based around it and most of the tournaments played worldwide use this variation.

Texas Hold’em is perhaps the easiest form of poker to learn and play. It has a simpler strategy. No memory is involved. It’s easier for the spectators to follow. Besides, it is much faster than other variants; it can deal 20 plus hands per hour. These distinguishing factors have also made this form of poker so popular and that is why it is present in almost every online poker site.

Poker Rules

Basic Rules and Duration of Both Games

While different variants of poker can be played, the basic rules usually remain the same. The players’ hands are ranked by the cards they hold. The winner of each hand is the player that holds the best-ranking hand when all the cards are shown at the end – this is known as ‘Show Down’ – or the player can win without needing to reach the Show Down by the last uncalled bet. 

The game is played with a 52 cards standard pack, sometimes with the addition of one or two jokers. The cards are ranked from high to low as Ace, King, Queen, Jack, 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2. A poker hand contains five cards. The various combinations of poker hands rank from five of a kind to no pair in a descending order. 

Poker is a simple game to learn but its rules can be challenging for a newbie. Many poker rules are consistent from game to game, however different variants of the game like Omaha, Texas Hold’em, seven card stud, etc can have a bit differences that you need to know before playing a specific variant. The basic poker rules and the hand rankings don’t change whether you play it as a ring-game or in the form of a tournament.

‘Table Stakes’ is a rule that is common to just about every variant of poker. It means once a hand begins, you can only bet on whatever amount you had on the table to initiate the hand and are not allowed to add anything during the hand as it plays out. For instance, if you have $50 on the table to begin a hand, you cannot pull out your wallet and add more halfway during the hand.

There are three types of betting limits in a poker game. Betting limits refer to the amount a player can open and raise in the game. They may be of the type no limit, pot limit, and fixed limit. 
No limit – In this type of betting structure, players can bet or raise as much as they like in any betting round, whenever it is their turn to act.
Pot limit – In poker games with this type of betting structure, the current size of the pot creates an upper limit on how much a player can bet. In simple words, each player can bet and raise by an amount less than or equal to the size of the total pot at that time. 
Fixed limit – In poker games with a fixed limit betting structure, players can call, bet, or raise by only a fixed amount. The amount is predetermined for each round. 

How do you bet in poker games? You must put some initial contribution called ante to start it off and get dealt cards. Players are usually called upon to act in turn after initial cards are dealt. Betting moves anti-clockwise around the table. When it gets around to you, you have one of the following three choices.

Call – You can call if other players have bet during the current round; you will require to match the highest bet made. For example, if you bet a dime last time and someone also bet a quarter, you would owe fifteen cents.
Raise – You first bet enough to match what has been bet since the last time you bet, then you raise the bet another amount which is up to you but typically there’s a limit to raise. For example, if you had bet a dime and the other person raised you fifteen cents, then you would put forty cents into the pot. Fifteen cents for calling and twenty-five cents for your raise.
Fold – When you fold, you forfeit your cards and drop out of the current hand.

Betting continues in this way until every player calls or folds a raise or initial bet. As far as the duration of the game is concerned, it depends on various factors like blind levels, number of players, and the type of game. In general, a typical game takes approximately an hour whereas tournaments take several hours.

You Won’t Be Able to Use Certain Strategies Online: Looking for Poker Tells

You gain an advantage in poker if you observe and understand the tells of your opponents. Tells are the actions, either physical or verbal, that players make in the game to convey information about the strengths of their hands. They are very common in real-life poker games. 

Since you can’t physically see your opponents when playing poker online, the physical tells are obviously not going to apply. So, you have a limitation on using certain strategies in online format. However, there are still some factors that come into play while playing online such as bet sizing, behaviour at the table, and the time spent sizing a bet.

Pros and Cons

Which Should You Play?

The differences discussed earlier in this article can draw a good picture of the pros and cons of both formats. It depends on your circumstances and preferences to choose one. If you are an extrovert person and the slow pace of the game isn’t an issue for you, then you should play real-life poker. But there are other factors that should be kept in mind like convenience and toughness of the format. 

If you are still confused in selecting the ideal format for yourself. I can give you a helpful idea. Try both and see which one suits you the best. Analyze your skills, luck, and earning at both and then decide whether you should go for real life or online format of the game.

If you are a beginner, it’s highly advisable to start from poker online as it will help you improve your game by showing the stats. You will be able to assess your game and know your weak zones. Playing online will remove the burden of dress code, traveling, rush and noise in a casino, etc. Furthermore, you will have the freedom to play anytime. In general, the online format is much better than real life poker, so you should play online.

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