In NJ, like many places in the world, you have the option to play online poker and live poker. Both legally. Besides the obvious differences between the two, such as playing at home or playing in a brick and mortar casino, there are other subtle differences that players should know before making the change from one to another.
Being Able To See Your Opponents
This is obvious, but it is a big plus for me personally when playing live. Although I prefer online play for other reasons, being able to see my opponent when he bets, or is making a big decision can help you make correct decisions in close spots. The comfort level of an opponent can tell you a lot about their hand so make sure to pay attention to your opponents when playing live.
Aside from this, just knowing who my opponent is physically is often a big help to my decisions and overall strategy. If your opponent is an older gentleman, a woman, or a young aggressive player, you can use this information to your advantage live, where you cannot when playing poker online.
Slower Play Live
This is a much bigger difference than most players realize. The live dealer is a human, and the dealer online is a robot. Also there is a shorter time limit to make your decisions online. These factors basically equate to being dealt many more hands per hour online, and the action moving much faster.
The rake (% of money that you have to pay to the house to play) is lower online. The standard rake for online tournaments is 10% of the buyin, where it is often 20% live. This is a big difference in long term scheme of it all, and is a big reason why a lot of players prefer playing online over live.
No Tips Online
Tips can add up. The standard tip paid to a dealer in a live casino is $1 per hand (when you win the hand) in a cash game, and tournament winners often tip 2-10% ! This can really add up, and it is another reason why online play is preferred by a lot of players. There are no tips when playing online poker.
More Tournaments & Game Selection
On most online poker sites, the game selection that you can choose from is usually much broader than at a live casino. For tournament play, this is especially true. Live may offer 1 – 3 tournaments a day, maybe a couple more. On most online sites, there are dozens if not hundreds of poker tournaments going on at all times.
When playing live poker, it is especially difficult to put in a lot of volume, due to only being able to play 1 game at a time. A slow game at that. Online you can play as many tables as that site or your computer screen will allow you to. This lets you put in a ton more volume way faster than if you played live. Most people agree that volume is a very important factor to your ultimate amount of profit, giving online poker a big edge in this area.
Adjusting To Live Poker
Over the past 10 years, I have played a lot of live poker and online poker. Although I enjoy playing live poker more, I play way more online poker than live. From 2008-2011 I was making great money online, and had mastered it. Yet every year when I would play in the WSOP or other big live events, I would have very limited success. It was especially difficult because the competition I was playing against live was softer, yet I still couldn’t beat them.
I eventually realized I was not making the proper adjustments from playing online to playing live. The primary adjustment I had to make was just playing a little tighter, because the game overall is much slower. It didn’t help that just by being a early 20’s male made everyone at the table think I was bluffing all the time. I had to fold more hands, run less bluffs, and play more for value.
I found out that this is a problem that a lot of top online poker players were having. The game is the same, but recognizing these subtle differences between live and online play are important, and often is the difference between thousands of dollars, or a whole lot more.
Hope this helps some of you out there who are hoping to transition one way or the other.
See you on the felt.