For those who never played either, the differences between online and offline poker are negligent. The truth is there are so many dissimilarities that the two might as well be completely different games. The basic rules are the same and three of a kind will beat two pairs regardless of where you play, but everything else is different. There are plenty of pro and cons for both options and we have compiled a handy guide to help you decide which one is better for you.
During a live game at the poker table, experienced players can use a wide range of body talk to either bluff or intimidate their opponents. Eye contact, finger tapping, or facial expression can all be used as a tool, but only if your opponent sees you. In an online game, players don’t have this option. Online poker simply lacks one dimension, which is why some players avoid playing it. On the plus side, it also means that these tactics also can’t be used against you, so at least the field is leveled. You don’t have to worry about your physical tells that can reveal your game plan or wear sunglasses indoors to hide your eyes from your opponents.
One huge benefit online has over offline is the access to a wealth of information usually inaccessible in traditional settings. Pretty much all popular and respectable online casinos allow their clients to use HUD software, which can display various information, like chip count (both yours and your opponents’), player ratings, even their fold rate. In a traditional game, players have to keep all this info in their heads and that can be tiresome, not to mention unreliable as the game progresses and they start losing concentration. Yet, the data is vital and can help them make better choices that would ultimately lead them to victory.
For some players, being inside a casino and playing against an opponent you can see across the table is an essential part of poker. For others, the ability to play online games from the comfort of their home is a must. They don’t care for crowds or the atmosphere in a brick and mortar casino. Instead, they prefer their couch or favorite chair in front of a computer. They don’t have to worry about how they are dressed or even how they behave. In the end, it is a personal choice each player must make for themselves.
When playing traditional poker, you are limited with your choices of game and opponent availability. This is especially true in a casino setting, where you don’t have much say into who can sit at your table. The same can be said about online poker as well, but the difference is that you have thousands of poker rooms to choose from if you don’t like the one you are in. A casino will never match that. Another handy thing about online poker is that you can play it anytime and everywhere. You are not limited to the casino’s working hours.
Brick and mortar casinos offer various bonuses to their regular players, like free drinks or even complimentary hotel rooms. To qualify for these though, you have to spend a lot of money in the casino. Only then will they treat you like royalty. Online casinos offer different kinds of bonuses, like free plays or cash rewards as an incentive to keep playing. None of these bonuses really matters as they are designed to make you feel better about losing your money, so try not to get seduced by them.
We would recommend all new players to first hone their skills in online games. Here they will learn the basics of poker and still get to play against real opponents. Only when you feel that you are familiar with the game should you seek a place at a professional poker table. Mind you, if you prefer to stay online, that is a perfectly valid choice. The bottom line, choosing between online and offline poker boils down to a personal choice and there is nothing wrong with either of them.