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March 24, 2005

Online Versus Live Poker

Posted at March 24, 2005 10:52 AM in General Discussions , by Greedy Gecko.

With the recent growth in poker popularity, people across the world are diving into the poker scene. Due to gambling limitations within the United States, many players are unable to experience the excitement of poker at real-life casinos. Fear not, however, because online poker provides numerous advantages over play in a live poker room.

For many of us who view poker as a profitable hobby, rather than a full-time profession, our poker time is limited by work and other commitments. A significant distinction between online poker play is its convenience. Even if you live 5 minutes from a brick & mortar (B&M) casino, you cannot deny the ease of logging onto a computer at any hour (and in any state of dress for you underwear players out there) and being able to immediately seat yourself at a game and limit of your choice. With quantity of poker rooms available you are nearly guaranteed to find the type of action you desire. Additionally, the lack of required dressing/undressing and driving team means that you are afforded more time for poker.

Cost of Play
Whether you view poker purely as a hobby or an additional source of income, it is important to consider the overhead you incur as you play. The two primary costs relate to the rake (% of pot retained by the casino) and tokes or tips to the dealers and cocktail waitresses. Since B&M casinos have significantly higher costs in running their operations, you can expect much higher rakes as compared to online casinos. Also, since online games do not feature human dealers, none of your poker bankroll must be used for tips.

Speed of Play
Live poker play is slow, with players seeing 30-40 hands an hour. Once you become comfortable with your game and are a profitable player, you want to see as many hands an hour as possible, resulting in increased profits on an hourly basis. Online poker does not have slow human dealers, nor must you wait for shuffling. Additionally, players don’t need to calculate the size of the pot (most sites show the current pot size) or manually count their chips for betting/raising. All of these factors result in a much faster rate of play online, with 55-80 hands per hour depending on the players at your table.

Online poker allows you to play at multiple tables at any given time. As of the time of this post, the author currently sits at as many as 7 tables at a time. While the concept of multi-tabling is controversial, and a different style of play must be utilized, it can result in much higher profits than being seated at only 1 slow table at your local B&M poker room.

Game Selection
When you walk into your local poker room, you typically have to enter your name on the waitlist and ultimately sit at the first table available at your chosen limits. Online poker provides and endless number of games for you to choose from. Additionally, many sites list table statistics to help in the selection of your preferred type of table; whether loose or tight.

Record Keeping
Online poker provides relative ease for recording your poker play, something that I recommend every poker player do. There are numerous programs available to assist you in collecting data about your play. Additionally, most online poker sites provide a history of your hands played, so that you can review your play and the play of your opponents. Another valuable feature of online play is the ability to record notes on your opponents within the poker software, allowing you to keep a running log of the peculiarities of their play.

What You Lose
In order to realize all the advantages listed above, you are going to have to give something up. First is the socializing that goes on at the poker table. However, this is easily discounted if one of your primary motivators is profitability. The second thing you give up is the ability to make reads on your opponents based on their physical demeanor. While you can learn your opponent’s style of play, and make reads based on their tendencies, this is undoubtedly the one key limitation to online poker.

Online poker can be both profitable and fun. Unless you are a serious poker pro looking for the highest of stakes, online poker can meet your needs and provide a high level of convenience.

As always, your comments are welcome!

The Greedy Gecko