The key differences between online and offline poker


Updated: Oct 25, 2022 9:00 am

Since its explosion online, poker has become much more accessible to those old enough to play it. You no longer need to find and travel to your nearest casino and sit yourself down at a poker table – you can set up an online account from the comfort of your home and jump into a game within minutes.

At its core, poker doesn’t change whether you’re playing it online or offline. The rules remain the same, as does the objective: win chips from other players. That being said there are some pretty key differences between the two formats that it can be helpful to be aware of. Let’s take a look at them.

Online poker is more convenient

This is a rather obvious difference between the two: it’s far more convenient to play online than it is to play offline. Online poker sites are not only available from your computer but even your phone – many of them have their own apps that you can download.

You can play from anywhere with an internet connection. You don’t need to travel anywhere and you can play on your own time. You don’t need to wait or plan for certain game times; with online poker there is always something going on and usually you can dive right in.

You don’t have a poker face online

Ever since poker was first invented it’s been important to develop a straight poker face and to give nothing away to your opponents. You don’t want them to know when you’re bluffing, or when you’ve got a strong hand.

Likewise, when you’re sitting across the table from others you’ll be paying close attention to how they’re behaving. Do they have any physical tells? Is their face giving anything away? Picking up on these clues can be the difference between winning and losing.

If you’re playing online, however, this aspect of poker doesn’t exist. It’s mostly anonymous; others can see your username, but that’s about it. While this means you don’t have to worry about controlling your reactions, it also means you’re not able to see others’.

Online poker is more analytical

When you join a UK poker site online, you can usually access the playing history of those you’ve come up against or are currently in a game with. You can take a look at their statistics – these won’t always go into great detail but they can give you a better idea of how that player operates. At the very least you can see what kind of form they’re in.

In lieu of physical tells during a game you need to pay more attention to the actual actions each player takes; when are they folding, how bold are they being, things like that. Only then will you get a clearer idea of their playing style.

This is also bad news for anyone who isn’t a fan of maths. Without these physical cues to go on, you need to do more mental arithmetic to work out the probabilities of different situations on the fly.

In general, online poker is more casual

This point is obviously relative to each different scenario but, on the whole, you’ll find that online poker attracts more casual players. This is because it’s much easier to play as you can do it from home or even while on the go.

Those who play poker in person are generally more serious about the game and more experienced in playing it.

So, you’re more likely to come up against novice and inexperienced players online. This helps create a more casual feel to these games as well; while it’s a good idea to give the game your full attention when there’s money at stake, if you’re playing from home you can theoretically also be getting on with other things at the same time.

It’s easier to practice online

One of the great benefits of online poker is that you can hone your skills without risking your money. Most sites offer free versions of poker where no money is at stake and the aim is to just get more experience under your belt.

While it’s certainly possible to play poker for free offline, it’s much rarer. It’s usually done between friends for fun.

So, if you’re relatively new to poker or just want to sharpen yourself up without the financial risk then online poker is the best option. Many sites will offer options where you can play against a computer or other people.

The online and offline versions of poker have much shared DNA but there are also some major differences between the two. Depending on your preferences for different esports games, there will likely be one you opt for over the other, but ultimately it’s a huge benefit to have the choice.


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