The Differences Between Live and Online Poker


The Differences Between Live and Online Poker


Playing cards, and dollar bills arranged on top of a laptop.

The Differences Between Live and Online Poker


Blue and black casino chips arranged on the corner of a laptop, with playing cards arranged in front of the laptop.

One big question in the poker community is whether playing the game online or in person is better. These days — thanks to internet platforms — you can play poker tournaments daily without leaving your home. On the other hand, playing in a live setting has a charm of its own.

In this post, you’ll learn about the differences and similarities and, as a result, be able to make better decisions about which one is right for you.

But first, here’s a quick overview of the main features they have in common. 

Main Characteristics of In-Person Poker

A person sitting at a poker table, holding cards in their one hand, and placing poker chips down with the other hand.

Most obviously, there’s a social aspect to playing poker live. Often, there’s some banter between the players, discussing lucky draws or bad beats. Some look to leverage this by needling others and being intentionally antagonistic. As a result, knowing how to read body language really matters because this is where players give away the distinction between truth and pretense.

Unless it’s a friendly home game with your buddies, in-person poker is typically played in a casino. As you may already know, these venues have their own unique atmosphere, and this vibe is undoubtedly a big draw for live poker. 

Key Features of Online Poker

A person sitting at a desk, in front of a computer, with an online poker game on their screen.

When they first appeared, few players would have claimed that online casinos were changing the future of poker. However, that’s precisely what happened. They made the game more accessible — especially in the early 2000s when Chris Moneymaker sparked the so-called “poker boom.”

You don’t need to dress up, as you can now play from your couch — in fact, with a laptop or mobile, you could even play in bed. On top of that, there’s no downtime. Load up a game whenever you feel like it. Plus, if you’re more of an introvert, you’ll enjoy avoiding all the social interaction.


That said, both versions of this iconic card game have certain things in common. 

Rules and Odds

Both live and online tables use the same poker game rules. It doesn’t matter whether you’re sitting behind a computer or at an actual poker table; pocket aces represent the strongest starting hand. The probabilities, betting rules, and everything else are identical in both formats.


Since the rules are the same, the fundamental skill set you need to succeed will translate both ways. Correctly calculating probabilities, ranges, and bet sizes matter in both online and offline versions of the game — which explains why, if you practice one version, you’ll also be fluent in the other. 


As you might know, there are many different poker games. The most popular today is Texas Hold’em. However, games like Omaha, Razz, and seven-card stud are not without their fans.

All of these can be played both in person and online. Whatever you prefer, you can play at your local brick-and-mortar casino or on your favorite online platform.


While there are clear similarities, there are also several differences between the two, as you’re about to discover.


To play poker in person, you’ll need to make some effort. If you want to play with your friends, someone needs to organize the game. Playing with strangers in a casino? That requires travel.

On top of that, you need to wait for tournaments to actually start. Most live casinos don’t offer hourly tournaments, and even if they do, the times may not suit you, so you need to plan your schedule around them.

Playing online, on the other hand, is entirely different. You can do pretty much anything you like, anytime you want. Dozens of online poker tournaments and cash tables are available daily at a wide range of stakes.


When you’re playing in person, it takes longer to perform physical actions. Shuffling and dealing are much slower, as is the counting of chips in the pot. This is automated online, so the game flows more smoothly.

In the same amount of time, you’ll play significantly more hands online than in a live setting. So, the internet is the way to go if you want to maximize the number of hands played in any given session.


Online games offer a plethora of stakes and buy-ins. But, you’ll notice that the lowest stakes online are much lower than those in a brick-and-mortar casino. These so-called “micro-stakes” just aren’t available in a live setting. Online, your blinds could be as low as a couple of cents.

This is why, if you’re still learning, it’s a good idea to stick to the online tables. It will allow you to spend less on the same number of hands played. 


Live games are often played in a casino, offering a pleasant vibe. It’s quite different from playing online poker in your average living room. This is undoubtedly a consideration since many players vastly prefer the casino ambiance.

Reading Other Players

Contrary to popular belief, there are some things you can read about your online opponents by observing the way they play. Do they always call the first raise? Perhaps they fold too often, playing only premium hands?

As for in-person games, there are many tools players in live poker games can use. They can try to read the opponent’s body language or deploy speech play, making decisions based on the response. Of course, a player could also try to deceive with their behavior.

As a beginner, it’s probably not a great idea to try to use complicated poker strategies because they can be challenging to master. On the other hand, many players consider this an enjoyable part of poker. If you belong to that group, you’ll want to find opportunities for in-person play.


So, which option is superior? Well, they both offer their own set of benefits. In short, it comes down to how much you value easy access. If that’s important to you, playing poker online is best. 

That’s also the case if you’re just starting. You’ll be able to play more hands for the same investment of time and money.

On the other hand, if you like engaging with other players and trying to read them face-to-face, there’s just no substitute for live poker. It can certainly scratch an itch that online poker can’t. 

Thankfully, it doesn’t necessarily need to be one or the other. If there’s an appealing poker event in your local area, attend it. If nothing’s happening nearby and you want to play, simply do so online. It’s likely best to enjoy a bit of both if you want to become a well-rounded player.

Open Online Opportunities

There’s a lot to be excited about with in-person poker. However, its most significant downside is that you need to physically travel at specific times.To avoid that, simply register at Borgata Online, one of the best online poker sites in the U.S. Whether you enjoy Texas Hold’em, Omaha, or any other popular poker variant, it’s available without ever leaving your home.