Over the last decade, we’ve seen the emergence of online poker – a multi-billion dollar a year industry that has changed the landscape of the game forever. Depending on the availability of poker options where they live, players are now given the choice of playing online from the comfort of their homes or venturing out to enjoy the social aspects of playing in their local brick and mortar casino. For the casual player, it may just depend on their mood on which option they chose, but for those who are looking to turn a serious profit, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of playing in an online or live setting. There are several factors to consider before deciding which direction you’d like to go.
There are several expenses associated with playing live poker that you just don’t face when playing online. Gas money or public transportation, as well as the cost of food (if it is not complimentary) are certainly factors to consider. Additionally, the cost of playing poker in a casino is typically much higher than online in terms of the rake (the chips collected by the house out of each pot) and tips to the dealer, floor staff and other casino employees (which are not a factor online).
Plain and simple: the games in live card rooms tend to be better. The players who frequent brick and mortar casinos are typically much less skilled and there are usually many more casual players and tourists in the games. Online games have become tougher over the past few years as more players have gone pro and the games have become more and more competitive.
Speed of Hands
Because of the human element involved in live poker games, the hands come out much slower than they do online. It takes much more time for a human dealer and players to count and bet chips, deal and shuffle cards, and keep the action moving. Online poker tables are run by computer software which greatly improves both speed and accuracy, allowing players to receive many more hands per hour than they would in a live setting. Additionally, players have the option to “multi-table” (play at more than one table at once) online, which is a huge perk for those who are serious players.
Depending on the size of your local casino, how many you might have in your area, and what games you prefer to play, game selection may or may not be a factor to consider when choosing where to play. Online card rooms tend to offer many more options in terms of different poker game variations as well as stakes, but they tend to be much tougher (as mentioned in the “Action” section above).
The tools used by many of today’s online pros are pretty much essential in order to realistically compete against their opponents. Computer software like PokerTracker and PokerOffice assist players in not only analyzing and improving their own games, but also in tracking their opponents’ tendencies. Of course, live poker requires players to rely on old school methods such as taking mental notes on physical and technical tells, which are much more unreliable tactics.
Now that you have an understanding of the pros to playing online poker, you may be wondering where you shoul play. Since its birth, PokerStars has certainly been the industry leader and has always offered the best selection of games and award-winning support. They also offer very generous deposit bonuses for new and returning players. Even better, the software is free to download and is far superior to any other online poker room. Whether you are looking for small stakes cash games, satellites to prestigious live tournaments, or the largest online events in existence, PokerStars is certainly your best bet when it comes to online poker.