The New Player’s Guide to Live Poker

min read
Laptop screen on a desk displaying a live poker tournament online.
BetMGM Oct 09, 2022, 1:24 PM

Live poker online provides a fresh and realistic option to the online poker sphere. So, what is live poker? Essentially it is online poker with real dealers, meaning it’s the closest alternative to playing around a real table.

The latest innovation of virtual poker, its ability to be played anytime, anywhere while offering real-time play suggests an exciting future for live dealer poker. Follow our in-depth guide on the ins and outs of live poker.

Live Poker online vs online poker

There are subtle differences between the formats, but a noticeable change is the pace of the game. Online poker is fast-paced, with higher swings and more pre-flop play. Live poker online is played similarly to a live table game. The pace is generally slower and the hand ranges are narrower.

Generally speaking, online poker attracts players with aggressive styles and offers tougher competition. On the other hand, live poker tends to include loose-passive players, resulting in more multiway pots and softer games. It’s important to realize every game is different and it’s up to you to understand the playing personalities of your opponents. For example, if you’re playing live dealer poker and there’s a player who keeps on folding but bets when they receive a strong hand, a good recommendation would be to fold whenever that player bets or raises.

Strategy for live poker

Although online and live poker incorporates the same rules and hands, your strategy for each format should differ. There are several reasons for this, including the pace of the game, players around the table and the presence of a real live dealer through a stream.

Live dealer poker requires you to play tighter than usual, especially against aggressive players. In most games, you will face recreational opponents playing for fun, meaning they tend to play loosely as they haven’t yet developed an effective playing style. The trick is to spot these players – which is usually obvious as they tend to drive the action throughout the game. Experienced players are known to wait for these players to make mistakes and pounce. If you’re holding a strong hand and notice a novice raising, it’s not a bad idea to call their bet. Remember, in order to have a successful game, you need to take calculated risks.

A noticeable difference is the speed of the game. To play live poker requires patience and a mindset for the slow pace of live dealer poker. Online poker with real dealers means the time between each round is longer, resulting in far fewer hands being played throughout the game. This lowers the probability of receiving strong hands regularly, therefore, keeping your focus on the game and players’ behavior (even when you have folded) is crucial to a winning game. It’s easy to get frustrated and start playing loosely, often resorting to aggressive techniques such as bluffing.

Out of the aggressive techniques to incorporate, semi-bluffing seems to be the safer option. This is the process of betting when you have a weak-to-medium hand that has the potential to be strong with the right cards from the dealer – this usually occurs with straights or flushes. Sometimes chasing the river can result in an exciting win, improving your morale and engagement in a potentially long-winded game.

However, there are also similarities between poker variations that should be noted. Your positioning during the round should influence your betting behavior. If you’re one of the last three people to bet in a round, it’s known as a late position. This gives you more freedom to bet aggressively and steal the pot. Why? Because a late position gives you the advantage of seeing your opponent’s bets. If players are betting conservatively and you raise the initial bet, it will result in many active players folding the round, therefore, increasing your chances for success.

Another strategy that should be utilized in any format of poker is understanding your opponents’ playing personalities. If you’re able to read how an opponent bets, it gives you the best indicator of what your next move should be. On the other hand, it’s important not to become readable; maintaining a level of spontaneity is an effective method of preventing this.

Moreover, the stage you’re in during a game should also influence your betting behavior. Whether you’re playing poker tournaments or a daily game, if it’s early in the game, remain patient and allow others to make mistakes. The time to start thinking aggressively is closer to the later rounds.

Types of live poker games

BetMGM offers an array of live poker games, with Texas Hold’em being the most popular variation. But being the most popular game comes as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it attracts a lot of experienced players, but also a lot of novice players.

By understanding a few strategies, you’ll be able to combat inexperienced players well, setting yourself up strongly against experienced players in the later stages. Other games include Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Live 2 Hand Casino Hold’em and Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker.

Test your skills on BetMGM

Ready to put your new-found knowledge to the test? Play poker online at BetMGM, where you’ll find a large selection of live poker games and poker tournaments to suit your style, bankroll and calendar. Register today and unlock our endless range of live dealer games, online slots and so much more.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.