Differences in Online and Face-to-Face Poker Games

Table Selection
There are probably several hundred $1 and $2 limit Texas Hold’em games being played right now online. From the comfort of your own home you can choose to play at any one of them. In the event you find one table too tight, or too loose, or you simply are unhappy being to the right of a maniac player you can easily find another table to play at. Offline poker rooms certainly don’t offer as many poker tables among which to choose from. They may offer a few tables playing for the same limits but watching them and moving from one table to another is not nearly as convenient.

Another advantage online poker players have is the ability to play multiple tables at once. If an online player finds two tables he/she likes, he/she can decide to play at both of them at the same time. For that matter some online poker rooms will let you play up to four tables at once. By playing more than one table at a time players get in even more hands per hour maximizing their hourly rate. Land-based poker players can’t play at different tables at the same time.

An Elephant’s Memory
When players play poker for a few hours no one can remember details such as what the player two seats to your right played in the 17th hand of the night. When playing online all playing information is tracked and recorded. Players have the option of using hand histories to find out what cards you had in the 11th game, how many chips where in the big stack, who said what on chat, and who called the pre-flop raise that round. In the real world information like that is lost each time the cards are mucked and shuffled.

Online poker players can collect that information and place it into one of several programs that will analyze your playing tendencies as well as those of your opponents. This allows you to learn how to recognize holes in everyone’s poker game and make notes for later use at the tables.

Online poker players can make notes on their opponents. They can keep track of such things as: do they check raise often, do they see every flop, call every bet, play second pair high kicker aggressively? When you play these players again you can read you notes on them and get up to speed on their playing tendencies right away.

In short in online poker you can track everything and keep records of anything your heart desires.

Land-based tournaments are wonderful events. It’s fun to recap with other players at the buffet when you make it to the next break. A room full of poker players involved in playing a tournament does generate its own excitement.

If you are fortunate enough to make it to the final table you play in front of spectators and play in the spotlight for as long as your chips hold out. Of course for those at the final table that don’t make it to first place the sting of defeat is tempered by their share of the winnings from placing in the tournament.

Off-line tournaments are large multi-table tournaments that have set registration fees and fixed start times. On-line tournaments may also follow these conventions, but there are also less formal “Sit and Go” tournaments offered. These tournaments have no fixed start times they begin when every seat at the table is filled, when enough people interested in playing right now fill a table.

On-line poker rooms attract players from all over the world, thus they can host more tournaments than the average brick and mortar room. The prize pools for on-line poker tournaments are similar to those offered by land-based tournaments. The only real difference between the two types of tournaments is that of atmosphere and player convenience.

Bonuses and Comps
To attract new players almost every on-line poker room welcomes new players with a gift of free chips added to their first real money chip purchase. This is not a common practice at most casinos, and I’ve never gotten free chips at any home game either.

Online poker rooms commonly offer re-deposit bonuses to existing players as well.

The computing power at online poker rooms allows them to accurately track your play anywhere in the room. Many rooms have comp. systems in place that reward you for time spent playing at the room. These comps range in value from free entry into player appreciation tournaments to merchandise to cash bonuses.