Live Poker


Live poker, although similar to online poker in the most fundamental ways, is also very different, and those starting to play live poker for the first time, who are coming from an online background, will have to make some adjustments. Many people actually prefer live poker over online poker for a few reasons. The social aspect of live poker, meeting interesting people from all walks of life, possibly making friends with regulars, and being able to discuss poker face to face with someone. The level of play in live poker is also weaker for the most part than online play. People playing online poker these days have to jump several hoops to get money online, and generally want to play poker. Many live poker players play just for fun, having seen it on tv before and feeling they would have more control of their gambling fate than they would at the craps table nearby, or one of the other games. So there is definitely money to be made playing live poker. You’ll just need to readjust a few things when you actually make the transition to live poker.


Live poker generally has a bigger rake than the online games. In online games the rake is usually capped around three dollars at the highest limits and less and less as the stakes decrease. Some live poker games will charge as much as five dollars a pot! This is something you have to be aware of when playing live poker. Try to find a game with the smallest rake possible. Hopefully the amount of inexperienced players will make your profits higher than the equivalent stakes online, so make sure to leave a game if you think your edge is small compared to the other players, because the rake might eat you up. Also don’t be afraid to ask for a discounted rake if the game is short handed or the cardroom is dead. Many cardrooms will be happy to help in this regard.


Live poker also relies more on tells. Little ticks and mannerisms that may give away a player’s hand. While poker tells are not used often in online poker, they are a major weapon in live poker play. While a regular live player may not have you beat in poker statistics, knowledge of pot odds, and general poker strategy, he may play live poker often enough that he can spot obvious tells because he’s seen them so much. The real problem from coming from an online background is that you could have tells you have never even thought about. No one monitors your body language or facial expressions when you play online, so the most basic of tells could be magnified huge on you when first playing live. It’s much easier to bluff online when no one can see you. You don’t have to be a statue when you play live poker, and tells are not the be all end all of live poker play, but you should make sure to be aware of how you look and react. Try to stay on an even keel and not make sudden changes. If you talk a lot, keep talking, don’t clam up. If you’re a quiet guy, don’t start talking like a maniac when you have a great hand or are bluffing.


Live poker is a lot slower than online poker. You have the one table, and the one game you’re in unlike online poker where you can play several games at once. Live poker will also have you seeing less hands per hour. It is easy for an online poker player to get bored and or impatient in a live game. They may start playing more hands, and trying stupid plays just to keep themselves from getting bored. This will be the biggest obstacle you’ll have to overcome in live poker. Remember the rake is generally larger in a live poker game, so don’t waste your money just because you haven’t seen a flop in awhile. Take advantage of the slower pace, don’t let it take advantage of you. Use the slower pace to actively study your opponents. As stated earlier, tells are a bigger part of live poker, and this is your chance to try to get a hang of them. Think of folding bad hands as the equivalent of getting paid. When you do play a hand, have confidence that you waited for a premium hand while the rest of your table’s been playing just about any two cards to see a flop. Just remember to stay focused and not let your mind wander. Once you master this, live poker will be no problem for you.


Live poker should not be a problem for the online player. You’ll likely have more experience than most of your table due to all the hands you’ve played online. So there is money to be made at the live tables as long as you remember the adjustments you should work on. Watch the rake, be aware of your own and others tells, and don’t lose focus if you find the game to be slow. Live poker might just be preferable and more rewarding for you once you get the hang of it.