Poker Articles: Online Vs. Offline Poker

Many of us begin our so-called poker careers by honing our games at various online poker sites. And by doing so, some of us reach the point where we consistently increase our bankrolls and come to feel pretty good about our game. Unfortunately, however, when many online players decide to take it to the next level by joining "live" games around town, they leave the table shocked.

More than a couple of online sharks have sat down at a real table only to get beaten like a circus monkey. So how did they do so well online? Were the players in the live games that much better? Or is it that online and offline poker are subtly, yet distinctively, different?

The answer is yes, they are. And here are some of the points that distinguish online poker from the real thing.

No tells

This can be good or bad depending on how well you read opponents or project your own hand to other players. Playing online can level the playing field, so to speak, between beginners and professionals.

The only real tells online are found in betting patterns. You're less likely to have the whole table fold into your pocket bullets if the other players can't see the trembling, sweating, hyperventilating, or, in some cases, unresponsive catatonic behavior that sometimes occurs when trying to control a monster hand. The downside, however, is that you will never learn to hide your tells and read those of other players unless you play live poker.

Faster pace

Online poker plays out at a much faster pace than live poker. There's no waiting for cards, shuffling or chip counting. As a result, the online player who migrates to a live setting may find himself getting impatient and rashly play hands that should be folded. When you're playing offline, remember to be patient. Don't freak out because you haven't played a hand in what seems like an eternity. It's not bad luck that you haven't seen as many playable hands; it's because you haven't seen as many hands, period.

Anonymous players

You never know who you're really playing with online. It may be Phil Ivey or it may be some bum waiting to donate his money to the cause. Cardsharps and fish come in all shapes and sizes, but when playing live, sometimes you just know. Furthermore, don't assume that just because an online player's username is Nancy, that it's a female. Some guys like to play under female aliases because they feel other players will give them less respect, allowing them to take advantage of their sexist opponent's underestimation.

Exact chip counts

Playing online provides you with instant access to chip counts. There's no estimating, asking or not knowing how your stack measures up against those of your fellow players. This may not seem significant at first, but the first time you go all-in without realizing that your opponent does indeed have enough to cover you, you'll understand the value.