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Live Poker vs. Online Sites

Comparing Live Poker Rooms with Online Sites

The early part of this century saw an online poker revolution, when millions worldwide took to the internet to enjoy the game. The number of players online quickly outgrew the number of live poker players, creating a situation where there were thousands of ‘experienced’ poker players who had never sat down at a poker table in their life. Many players who have played exclusively online now like to make the switch to a live environment and this article acts as a useful guide to making that switch.

Difference Between Online and Live Poker Rooms

Having played online you might have an expert’s knowledge of the game, and while these rules are exactly the same in a live game scenario, there are a number of differences between the two games.

The first difference you’ll notice is the speed of play. Online, you might be playing in excess of 100 hands per hour, where in a live game, a single hand might take five minutes to complete. This can be a little frustrating at first, but you’ll soon realize that this has its advantages, as you’ll have plenty of time to think through your strategy for a given hand.

You’ll have to pay closer attention to the game too. Online, you are conveniently told every time it’s your turn to act (if you forget, the beeping will soon tell you), but in the live environment, you’ll soon start to annoy other players if they have to repeatedly tell you that it’s your move. The same goes for posting the blinds. Online, this is done automatically, but you’ll have to physically do this yourself – yes, it might seem obvious, but it’s easy to forget the first few times you play live.

The first time you enter a casino, it can be a good idea to watch the game for a little bit, just to get a feel for the live game. There are obviously more distractions than you’ll find online (unless of course you play online with Netflix and Call of Duty both running at the same time) and these can be off putting at first.

There is one huge added bonus you’ll find when playing live, especially at the lower stakes tables. The games are much softer. Online tables are generally much tighter, while live, you might find many players who are happy to go to the wire with weaker hands or draws, while you’ll also find a succession of pre-flop limpers. Tight aggressive play can certainly pay in this environment.

Etiquette when Playing Live Poker

One of the first aspects of the live game you’ll notice is that you should be tipping the dealer. There is no exact science to how much you should tip, but you’ll get a feel for this from other players as well as applying common sense. If you simply win the blinds in a hand, no tip is required, but if you win a pot of between $10 and $30 a simple $1 tip will usually suffice, while a large win of $200 for example might see you tip the dealer $5. Consider tipping as a simple additional cost of playing at a live casino.

Slow rolling is highly frowned upon at the poker table. This isn’t to be confused with slow playing – slow rolling is making another player think that they have won the hand, before you reveal a better hand.

Acting out of turn is a major faux-pas. While online, you can click that ‘fold’ button the moment you see that off-suit 3 and 8, at a live table you should wait until it is your turn to play to dump your cards. By mucking your cards early, you may affect the outcome of the hand and you won’t be popular. In a similar vein, you shouldn’t talk about a hand while the action is on-going. If you folded a small pair pre-flop for example and would have hit a set on the flop, telling everyone may once again affect the outcome of the hand.

Never ask another player to see their mucked hand. This is very poor etiquette. Fortunately, as an online poker player, you’ll be used to not seeing mucked cards, so this is usually an error made by live poker rookies who have not played online.

When playing live you should always keep your emotions in check. Yes, we’re all going to suffer that bad beat, but that is no reason to get annoyed and even take it out on other players. A number of players might deem it acceptable to berate bad play by others, but this is poor etiquette as the player has paid their money and can play however they like (and if they are playing poorly, shouldn’t you be encouraging them to stick around?). At the opposite end of the scale, over celebrating or gloating when you’ve won that big hand won’t make you any friends either. Keep your emotions in check and it’s better for all involved.