Online vs. Live: Where will You Take Your Next Seat?

min read
BetMGM Dec 29, 2021, 1:45 AM

view above group of people playing poker

The arrival of poker online has made virtual gambling hugely popular, and also more widely accepted. However, the question remains: Given the choice, where would you take your seat? Both live poker games and online gambling have their merits and allure, but ultimately it’s up to you to decide which you prefer. We’re here to make it easier by giving you a better perspective of each. In this blog, we’ll explore the commonalities between online and land-based poker, and what it takes to master each game, as well as look at the pros of each and how to make a smooth transition between the two.

Same animal, different beasts

Some would have you believe that “poker is poker,” regardless of where you play it, but there are some who believe that in-person games are better, while others insist online poker is the truest form of the game. Each of these extreme opinions is only a half-truth because while there is certainly common ground between online poker and poker offline, there are also some very distinct differences. What’s more, the set of skills that will make you a success in one will not guarantee that you will be a success in the other. However, if you want to be a Jack of all trades AND a master of both, you’ll want to keep reading.

Mastering live poker

Here are a few critical skills you need at your disposal to master live poker:

  • Patience is key when playing live. While one table may not be as thrilling as you’d hope, unlike online poker, you don’t have the option of opening up another table.
  • Accuracy and dedication is the name of the game when it comes to keeping records. Furthermore, you and your bank balance will appreciate it if you take note of every cent spent because it all adds up. Yes, that includes tips and that “one last drink” you ordered.
  • An understanding of the variety of games, although it won’t be as many as online games because live poker has a smaller selection of poker variants to choose from.
  • Constant awareness not only of your own playing patterns, but of your opponents too. You’ll win more often and achieve more success when you can pick up on habitual gestures and tells. This simply isn’t a factor in online poker.
  • A good grasp of when to use game and seat selection to get the most advantageous spot.

Mastering online poker

Here are a few critical skills you need at your disposal to master when playing online poker for real money:

  • An ability to multi-task and monitor multiple opponents, tables and HUDs (heads-up displays – key statistics about the game’s action displayed in real time on your screen.)
  • Data collection and analysis.
  • Decisive and quick choice-making to keep up with multiple tables and be able to play multiple hands.
  • Tilt control to match the rapid-fire decisions you have to make. This means being aware of your mood and emotions, and making sure you’re in the right headspace to be playing poker online.

Pros of live poker

Live poker is undoubtedly a very different experience from playing online. Here are the benefits of playing the game in person:

Games play out more slowly

While some may see the leisurely pace of live games as a downside, others may enjoy the far more relaxed speed at which live games unfold. If you’re someone who finds online games far too quick, this aspect of live poker will definitely be a plus point.

Unrivaled entertainment

While the action may be slower, live poker rooms offer more all-round entertainment than can be hoped for by their online counterparts. From face-to-face interactions and soaking up the casino atmosphere to having a chance to read tells and battle to keep a “poker face,” there’s just so much more excitement to be had in person! For all the convenience and financial sense that online poker offers, the live experience really hits the spot where entertainment value is concerned.

Plenty of fish in the sea and larger profits

Contrary to popular belief, live poker rooms actually have more “fish” than online games. This is because online players tend to be a fairly dedicated breed of player, while you’re more likely to find casual players in live games. What’s more, where there’s more fish, there’s often a greater opportunity to win big.

Pros of online poker

As with live poker, playing poker online offers players a different experience from playing in person. Here are the advantages of playing in cyberspace:

Lower stakes

With online poker, you can easily find games to play at lower stakes, which means you can minimize the amount of money you’re at risk of losing.

More hands

Online poker allows you to gain tons of experience relatively swiftly –  because you can play far more hands than you’d be able to, live, in the same time frame. As long as you continue to analyze your decision-making, and learn from your mistakes, your progress can improve steadily.

Heads-up display

Poker HUDs will help you panel-beat your game and banish any bad habits or poor decision-making. This is made possible by the accurate statistics that are made available.


The beauty of online poker games is that they give you the ability to play anywhere, just as long as you have an internet connection. You can also play on a range of devices, such as desktops, laptops, tablets or mobile phones.

Quicker tournaments

Online poker allows you to play more hands more frequently, which ultimately results in virtual tournaments wrapping up quicker than those held in the real world. This also means you could enter more tourneys and improve your winning potential, if you so wish


When you play poker online, you’ll find that you have far more options and types of poker you can try. This is because online poker isn’t limited by floor space and so can comfortably host and offer a wider variety of games. So if you like swapping from, say, stud to draw to community games… and back again, this could really suit your poker-gaming style!

Making the transition: From online to live

You’ve enjoyed the wonder that is Texas Hold’em poker online and are itching to dress to the nines and try your hand in the live game format – so how do you make the transition? By learning what to expect. Here’s the rundown:

A change of pace

You can expect games to be much slower than you’ve become accustomed to. This is largely because you are forced to play just one table at a time. However, that isn’t the only reason; even the actual game is slower, with fewer hands, more folding and potentially a lot less excitement (if pace defines your enjoyment of the game.) The live-poker hack, here, is to spend the extra time at your disposal observing the competition to learn their styles and patterns, as well as the nuances of playing the game in person (such as card and casino-chip etiquette.)

Softer tables

A “soft table” is one that’s easy to beat. On average, the tables in live poker are softer and filled with more fish than good players, and this gives you a better chance at winning.


Casino live poker is often a significantly more passive game. For example, instead of raising with draws, many players will opt to simply call and wish for the best.

Remember the end game

Ultimately, it all boils down to ensuring your opponent folds before the showdown, or that you have the best hand when it’s a showdown. Keep an eye on the competition, learn their habits, and pick on the weak side of their game while playing your best. The rest should fall into place.

Making the transition: From live to online

Alternatively, if you’ve lived the live poker room experience enough and want to take your talents online, you’ll notice some slight differences.

Choose the right online site to play poker

There are many online casinos and poker sites that appear legitimate, but may be fly-by-night or even scam operations that are only focused on taking your personal information and money. Make sure you pick a site that is licensed for your region, has a good reputation and provides you with the necessary security features to protect your information online. Once you’ve assessed these criteria, then consider all the poker games they offer, as well as bonuses and promotions.

It’s harder than it looks

More often than not, online casino poker is more serious than most private or casino games. This is because online poker doesn’t quite capture the same social experience that offline does. With fewer distractions and a greater priority on winning, you’ll find that players are generally more serious about their game.

Fasten your seatbelt

Compared to offline poker, there’s a constant fast pace in online games. This means you can play significantly more poker online than you can play in a real casino. So if you like your action snappy, online is the best place to enjoy this casino table game.

Prepare for aggressive play

Unlike the more tentative approach taken in live games, virtual poker players will tend to be more aggressive with their approach. The nature of the beast that is six-handed (sometimes called “six-man” or “six-max”) games is that everyone is forced to play more hands, and open on a broader range than they would at the felt in person.

Online tournaments are easily accessible

If you’re a fan of Texas Hold’em poker or any other variety, you won’t be disappointed by the variety of online and live dealer poker tournaments. The best online poker tournaments offer all the excitement of live poker with guaranteed prize pools, unique formats and low buy-ins.

Visit BetMGM, your real-world and virtual gambling haven

man holding casino chips in front of laptop for online poker

At BetMGM, we’re proud to bring you the best of both worlds. Whether you want to experience live poker or play online poker for money, we have you covered: BetMGM caters to all casino thrill-seekers, aficionados and hobbyists. We also offer an excellent range of online casino games, from table games and real-money online slots to video poker, all online and easily accessible from any internet-enabled device. 

The excitement doesn’t end there when you register with BetMGM: We also offer sports betting lines for a huge selection of games and leagues. Yes, we truly have it all! Our site is comprehensively safe and secure, and if you come across any issues, our customer service team is here to help you 24/7.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
About the Author


Read More

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are casino experts with a wealth of knowledge of the online casino industry at all levels. Their coverage includes company news, game reviews, how-to instructional articles, strategy guides, and editorials showcasing BetMGM’s superior product and game library.