If you’re serious about playing casino games for real money, chances are you’ve already spent some time at a poker table. For many players, poker is the ultimate game of chance and skill, with significant potential winnings up for grabs. Just look at all the VIP poker rooms and high-stakes poker tournaments out there. No matter where you play this card game, poker never fails to offer fun and excitement – and that includes online casino poker.
As online casino games become popular in the USA, professional poker players have increasingly turned to online poker as a way to test their skills and even earn a living. This digital version of the game has grown from strength to strength since its humble beginnings, but that’s not to say that the online version of the game will ever completely replace live poker. Sometimes you don’t have the time to find a live table, but you can always play poker online, anywhere (with an internet connection,) any time. You can even join online poker tournaments from the comfort of your home.
That being said, it’s important to understand the differences between online poker vs real poker, and that playing poker online is quite a different experience from playing face-to-face. Sure, the rules and fundamentals are identical, but the player experience is different and may take some getting used to. Never fear, though – by following a few tips, you can easily transition from live to online (and back again, as many times as you like.)
In this blog, we look at how poker pros can switch to take advantage of the online casino environment and the benefits it provides.
Invest in the right online poker gear
The most obvious difference is technical. If you’re going to spend long hours online, you need to set yourself up with the right equipment. For a start, you can’t play online without a stable internet connection and connected devices. That doesn’t mean you have to go out and spend a lot of money – reliable Wi-Fi will do just fine. It’s also worth getting an external monitor for your laptop or ensuring you have a decent screen for your desktop if you plan on playing a lot. If you are playing on a mobile device, go for a mobile phone or tablet with a large screen or the option to cast to your television so you’ve got a bit more screen space.
Also, don’t neglect your body and your mind. A dedicated playing space with a comfortable table and chair makes it easier to focus. Snacks, refreshments and a decent playlist help create a positive mindset. Don’t forget to stay hydrated with a healthy drink!
Sign up at an online casino
The next step is to find an online casino. The best online poker sites, such as BetMGM, are regulated, audited, secure and backed up by friendly, professional support staff. You’ll need to register and make a deposit to get started (you may be offered a deposit bonus, which will come with certain terms and conditions, or T&Cs, that are worth reading before you accept.)
But don’t rush blindly into this new digital world. Whatever gaming site you use, take the time to get used to the features and gaming interface. If you can, practice against a computer or play for free before attempting a live game where you have to wager real money. Some sites offer a no-deposit mode, where you can play a few games without placing a bet.
Adapt to the style of online play
One thing you’ll soon notice is that poker is much faster online than live – cards are dealt instantly, pots are calculated with zero errors and hands play out almost at once. Usually, you’ve got a few minutes to make a gambling decision at a live poker table, but you’ve only got a limited time for each action online. A great way to train those decision-making muscles is to play a few hands of video poker online.
This increase in speed adds an extra layer of difficulty that may not be present in offline games of poker. The difficulty level of the average game of online poker is also higher as online poker players tend to be more serious players compared to the players in a casino, which can be a mix of casual and competitive players.
Players who adjust to this more fast-paced environment often find it very rewarding. You can play more poker in a week online than live poker in a year (provided you can afford it.) You can also learn more about how to play poker online for real money, regardless of whether you’re a pro or not.
Mastering bankroll management
So you’ve mastered the technical aspects of playing poker online. The next step (if you haven’t gotten to grips with it already) is learning how to manage your bankroll so you’re never short of funds to play with. Think of your bankroll as the money that you’re prepared to lose – it should never exceed what you can afford.
That said, prudent bankroll management online is easier said than done. If you’re used to playing $1/$2 Texas Hold’em poker in your local casino, for instance, you might think to deposit $100 plus in your account and use the same stakes. Don’t. The fast pace of online play means you can blaze through that bankroll in a snap.
To get used to this aspect of online play, it’s a good idea to take things slowly at first. The best online poker sites typically offer games with much lower stakes than live poker. Start small and work your way up.
Remember, most poker sites tend to offer a generous sign-up bonus. Typically they’ll match your initial deposit up to a certain amount – often hundreds of dollars – with the proviso that you have to play a certain amount of times before you can withdraw the funds. It’s a great way to boost your bankroll, if you’re happy with the T&Cs.
Devise your online poker strategy
No matter what your personal live poker strategy may be, chances are that your online strategy’s going to be different. Before long, you’ll notice that players are much more aggressive online. Take the most popular form of poker you’ll see online – six-max, no-limit Hold ‘em. With six players in total and no betting limit, players commonly adopt a loose aggressive strategy – not what you’d expect in a full-ring live poker game.
The main reason is that blinds are paid in one of three hands in a six-max game, so all players are forced to take more actions. On the plus side, knocked-out players leave more dead money on the table.
A six-player limit also means you’ll come up against a greater variety of hands, so you’ll have to adjust your strategy accordingly. Common wisdom dictates that it’s best to fold any bad cards pre-flop at a table of nine. When you play online, the focus shifts towards the decision-making post-flop. If your hand contains broadway cards (that is, the top five highest ranked cards – the 10, jack, queen, king and ace,) premium cards and seven-upward suited connectors, it’s time to go in.
Playing well post-flop means taking bigger risks and making tougher decisions – just like everyone else in the game. It’s worth making the effort. Learning an aggressive style will improve your chances of winning money and it may raise your live game too.
Being prepared for poker tournaments online
Once you’ve adjusted to the more aggressive online environment, you might feel confident to enter one of the many poker tournaments. Once again, you’ll find that the online experience differs vastly from the live game.
A major difference is that online tournaments can accommodate a lot more players than similar live events, so they tend to go on for a very long time. In fact, you might find yourself competing against hundreds of players in the same tourney – and more often than not, they’re tough customers who mean business.
To have a shot at winning any poker tournaments online, you need to prepare for a long haul at the screen. It takes dedication, discipline, stamina and motivation. Cut out distractions such as TV or social media, turn your phone to silent and focus on the game. You might find you’ll miss the social aspects of live poker, but it’ll make you a better player if you stick with it.
Play poker online with BetMGM
Now that you know how to play real poker online, and you’re looking for the best poker experience in a safe online environment, register at BetMGM. Our poker software is designed for the needs of today’s online player, so you’ll get up to speed in no time. Enjoy a great range of variants, from the ever-popular Texas Hold’em poker to Omaha, take part in cash games or step boldly into the world of online poker tournaments. All this and more is waiting for you at BetMGM.