5 Key Differences Between Online and Live Poker

Both live and online poker are growing in the United States. In fact, the online gaming market predicts a 15.41% growth rate for the years 2020 to 2025. New regulations in states like Pennsylvania have helped push poker to the forefront of online gaming, as virtual platforms now have more incentive to improve their poker options for recreational and professional players.

If you’re one of many who signed up for an online poker account this year, you might be curious about how it differs from a live game. Before you take your poker face to the felt table, set your expectations by learning about these key differences:


A live game takes on a more relaxed pace than an online game, for several reasons. For one, the dealers are not computer-generated and take time to shuffle and deal cards, collect the chips, and push the pot to the winner’s side. Unlike online games, there is no time limit and players tend to take their time in person. And since there’s only one of you in real life, you can only join one table — in other words, there’s no multi-tabling for multi-tasking poker players.

Tells and table image

Emotional players (or players with a bad poker face and obvious body language) might do well in a virtual setting but will be easily read by their opponents in person. It’s then important to think about your table image, which you can actually use to manipulate your opponents.

On the other hand, it’s easier to pick up on your opponents’ tells in a live table. Some common poker tells to watch out for include shaking hands and alert eyes, which might mean your opponent has a good hand. Meanwhile, fidgeting with chips and unnatural speech could be a sign that their hole cards are weak.

Betting size

Even in low stakes live games, players are more inclined to bet 5 or 6 times the blind. You can also expect that they call pre-flop raises more than online players. It’s best to get a feel of the table before you try to force them to fold with an aggressive raise.


Playing online gives players a lot of convenience and flexibility with the game. One obvious reason is that you can take your device anywhere with internet access and join a table. Live games tend to carry on late into the night, which might not work for everyone’s schedule.

Additionally, live games require real money, while Poker.org points out that there are free to play poker sites as well. Zynga Poker, PlayWSOP, and PlayWPT are examples of apps that don’t require real cash to buy-in, which are great for players who are just learning the gameplay and developing their strategy.


Online games don’t require a lot of etiquette as gaming platforms facilitate plays. You can disable the chat function and not talk to any of your opponents and call, raise, and fold buttons appear.

In person, however, it’s much looser, which is why it’s important to learn how to conduct yourself at the table. For instance, LiveAbout.com warns against playing out of turn as it will make you easier to read. Also avoid speaking after you’ve folded so you don’t give away information that might affect other players’ decisions.

With poker becoming more popular, it’s worth knowing the difference between online and live tables. It will help novice players prepare for the challenge of butting heads with opponents in person.

For more tips on Gaming, check out our other articles.