Playing Poker Live VS Online: What Are The Biggest Differences?

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The card game poker is an American institution, enjoyed for over three centuries by everyone from French settlers and the cowboys of the Wild West to today’s modern poker player. In 2022, it makes headline news, from the recent poker cheating scandal to the World Series of Poker in Vegas with big prizes. The stars of today’s poker tables are well-known household names thanks to television exposure and social media.

Part of the mainstream success has to be attributed to online poker. America’s history with the sector is a little less straightforward than with the in-person game; online poker boomed at the turn of the century, folded a decade later, but is now as popular as ever. Many new players come to the tables via the online game, hoping to emulate Chris Moneymaker, who qualified for the World Series of Poker online in 2003 and won the top prize in person.

In achieving that feat, echoed a year later by Greg Raymer, multiple skills were needed. There are some striking, fundamental differences between playing poker in a casino and playing online. You’ll need to be aware of these differences if you’re looking to mix it up between online games and your local casino.


The most obvious difference is the convenience of online games over live games. For a live game, there has to be a host, maybe a casino, or maybe your buddies in a garage or basement. You’ll need to get everyone together at once, choose a variant you all agree upon and then start playing. Online, all you have to do is have access to an app or internet site, and you can choose the parameters. If you wish to Pot Limit Omaha at 3 am, there’s likely to be a provider offering those games. If you want to play free with no risk, you can do so at any time of the day or night. You can even play on the bus to work if you wish; online poker is very flexible.

Game Speed

There is a definite difference between the pace of a game online and in person; if you’re playing at your computer, expect the games to go quickly. You might find yourself up against someone playing multiple hands and tables simultaneously – this is known as multi-tabling and leads to super-quick games, as the people involved are playing odds rather than immersing in the whole experience. Even if they’re all-in on one game, online games tend to be very functional, with many hands completed quickly. In-person games have much more involvement; you’ll be looking to bluff, read people and indulge in banter and chit-chat. That means slower games, albeit a more social experience.

Different Tells

When playing in person, you’ll be studying your opponents, looking to find their tells and ticks that might give their hand away. You’ll be seeking to mask your own, maybe pull off a bluff, and some of the skill will be how you handle people rather than just with the cards. Online is very different; the only tells will be previous playing patterns. You won’t be able to see your opponents, so you’ll be using data and tracking to find the tells, not instinct.

Tracking and Help

Playing into the last point, online players have far more resources available to them to access. For instance, they might have access to a HUD tracking their opponent’s previous games to indicate how they tend to play. Online you can get help with calculating pot odds, so you know if it is worth raising or folding. There are online guides you can have open on multiple screens; all the help you need is at the tip of your fingers. However, in-person games are different. It’s just you and the cards, your skills against your opponent. It is a raw, authentic experience where, despite new techniques such as pot odds being applicable, there’s much more emphasis on your skills.


There are many more differences between online games and hands played in person, but these are the main differences to note. If you practice both, you’ll find certain skills from one you can apply to another, so it’s recommended to try your hand in a casino and online when you can.

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