Online Vs. Live Poker Strategy

Many online players have developed their games playing online poker before transitioning over to live poker games, as these games tend to have weaker opponents. So, with this in mind, it makes sense to dedicate an article that looks at the obvious differences between playing online poker and playing live poker games, since the strategies for both can differ significantly.

If you jump straight into live cash games without making the necessary adjustments needed to defeat live opponents, you will probably not have much success to begin with, even if you have been winning online poker games, due to the differences in how both games play.

That said, if you’re competent enough to be already beating even the micro stakes online poker games, then you should have a good enough understanding of cash game or tournament poker, as well as how to deal with the different types of opponents you will encounter, so you should be able to make the necessary adjustments to win playing live. After all, this is what winning in poker is all about, regardless if you play online or offline.

So, here are some of the notable differences between online poker and live poker that shouldn’t take very long for you to pick up on:

First of all, you should understand that the aggressive style that you may be accustomed to playing when playing poker online, especially if you primarily play 6-max games, probably won’t work as successfully in live cash games.

Generally speaking, live players don’t have a developed game like even a lot of the micro stakes online players do down to a certain level. Even the regulars at $0.10/$0.25 will have a decent game and they can make life uncomfortable for you. This is because beginner online poker players will study and have a basic idea of the fundamentals of the game.

Fold Equity

Live players are mostly going to be focused on their cards. They will have big leaks in their game such as playing too many starting hands and chasing all of their drawing hands.

As a result, the same aggressive game that works well online isn’t going to be as profitable when you’re looking for good spots to bluff in live cash games, since you’ll have a lot less fold equity than you think and you will typically be involved in pots with a number of players.

Trying to get numerous opponents to fold is going to be much more difficult. This is different to online poker games where it’s fairly typical to play heads up or only have two other callers pre-flop.

Bet Sizing

Bet sizing in live poker games are very different to online poker games. Whilst it’s normal to see 3-4x bb pre-flop raises online, when you’re playing live poker the pre-flop raises tend to be much much bigger, in the range of 6-12x the big blind.

It is also worth mentioning that live players are often raising with a much narrower range of hands than what you expect to see when playing online. This is mainly due to the fact that live poker games have players that are loose and passive by nature. Players in live games like to see flops, but if they come out raising you can expect them to have a pretty good hand. When you see live players three-betting, you can be pretty confident they are doing it with a premium hand, such as JJ+, AK. Some live players will only be three-betting with AA/KK.

Poker Tells

In a live poker game, tells are going to play a much more significant role in the decision making process, as you get to actually see everything your opponents are doing during the hand, when you are required to make those tough decisions.

By getting to see an opponent’s body language and mannerisms along with the table chat that often occurs, you will get to gain a lot of information on another player without them even realizing, and it can tell you a great deal about the strength of their hands.

Of course, there are tells you can look for when playing online poker, but they are not going to be as accurate. Still, however, things like bet sizing tells are still relevant, regardless if you are playing online or offline.

In Conclusion

As this article illustrates, the two games play quite a bit different. Given the weaker opponents that you will typically find at a live poker table, it makes it very worthwhile giving live poker a try if you haven’t already done so, even if it means playing a bit more aggressively with your bankroll. Like most online poker players that have migrated to live games will be able to attest to, the skill level of live players is that much worse the games are going to be a lot easier to beat.