The Differences Between Online Poker and Poker Venues

Poker is a game that has quite simple rules, and yet relies on quite a lot of strategy for a good win – and that is why it is such a popular game in the casino. Playing online poker might mean the same basic gameplay and rules, but there are many differences between online poker and live poker, not just that only one of these requires you to put pants on. 

Innovation and technology have helped expand the player base when it comes to various iGaming platforms. Users can now have access to a variety of different poker tournaments and other card games across the globe, whether it be in the convenience of their own home or on the go when utilising their personal mobile devices. 


Some of these differences might not seem like much, but when they are all put together you will be able to see why it can be difficult to move from one type of poker to another, and why there will be a period where you will need to get used to the new format. 

Below are five of the main differences you need to know. 

Speed of Play

Online poker games are faster than live games in poker venues. 

In online poker, not only can you play several tables at once, but you can get through upwards of 50 or even 100 hands an hour – making it an adrenaline-fuelled way to play. 

In live poker, you are obviously tied to just one table when you are playing, and there will be considerably less hands played in that same time frame, as little as maybe 20. 

Moving from the online poker space to the live poker space will seem like it is an absolute age between each hand, and this can induce boredom – making you make silly decisions.

Conversely, if you are used to the slower pace of the live games, managing multiple tables and playing speedy hands might feel rushed and like you don’t have enough time to make the right decisions. 

Blinds and Buy-Ins

As mentioned above, in online poker you can play several tables at once, which means that players often use blinds of $0.05 or $0.10 so that they can manage their bankroll better. Online tournaments might ask for buy-ins of $10. Another key difference in costings is that pre-flop raises might only be 2x or 3x. 

Live games might require blinds of $10 or $20. Tournaments will have a buy-in cost of $100 or more, and pre-flop raises might be as much as 5x or 6x.

Although the overall cost of play might be the same over a similar period in both an online and a live poker session (number of games and tables, for example), the lower costs of online makes it easier for players to get involved. 


This is a difficult one, because there are skilled players in both the online and live environments.

General live games at tables in casinos might be considered ‘softer’ than similar-priced tables in the online space – usually because the grifters are more commonly found in higher-stakes games. 

Most people will find that their toughest opponents will be found in online poker games. Even relatively inexperienced players can have strategy, tips, and tools at their fingertips when they are online, and there are few tells that can help.


Variance is another term for relative losses and gains – and high variance can be seen when you are having big losses as well as big wins in your games. 

When it comes to both online and live poker, variance is actually broadly the same – but it can feel a lot different. 

The fewer hands and games you play, the more variance can be felt. This can make it feel much worse, and you will be more likely to experience bad beats or what feels like a really terrible run. Live games in a poker venue, therefore, will feel more variable. 

Online games will usually mean more tables, more games, and more hands – so the short-term variance is something that needs to be well managed so that your bankroll will last longer. Setting limits and sticking to lower stakes is much better to manage variance online. 


Poker tells are one of the biggest parts of the professional bluffing game, and there is so much information out there for those who want to learn more. 

Of course, when you are in a live poker situation you are face to face with the other players and can get a read on them, learn about their tells, and enjoy some ‘table talk’. 

In the online space, this isn’t available. Some online players say that there are tells in online play, including things like the size of the raise, and the timing between calls and raises. However, many of these are more to do with the experience of the player, such as whether they use the chat function and whether they make oddly sized bets.