Should I Play Poker Online or Live?

I constantly get asked “Should I play poker online or live” so today I am going to answer it for you.

If you are lucky enough to have the option to play online or live, you should consider yourself lucky because not many people do.

Playing online is going to allow you to see many more hands per hour than you would live. In general, you will see about 50 hands per hour playing online for each table you play. Live poker is much slower. In a typical live setting you will online see about 20 hands per hour or less.

The amount of hands per hour alone make online poker the perfect environment for any player. When you calculate being able to play from the comfort of your own home and not having to drive to and from the casino, online poker looks pretty appealing.

While online poker is perfect for someone who wants to play a lot of hands and/or tables at a time, there is a downside. The online poker competition is much better than the live poker competition that you will play in your local casino. The reason why online poker players are better is because of what we already talked about above. They have played thousands or in some cases millions more hands than live poker players.

If you are winning at 1 / 2, 2 / 5, or even 5 /10 in live casinos, it doesn’t mean you will beat those stakes online. We tell our students that are transitioning from live poker to online, to play 2 or 3 stakes down from whatever they are playing live.

Example. If you play 5 / 10 Live you should play 1 / 2 or .50 / 1 online. Even if these stakes seem low to you, you need to show that you are a winning player at those stakes over a significant sample size before moving up. 2 / 4 and 5 /10 online are typically really tough games to be in and we don’t suggest anyone starts at those stakes unless they are just playing for fun with money to gamble with.

Also remember, you can play many tables online at one time so if you play 4-8 tables of lower stakes online, you will essentially be playing similar stakes that you are used to in live poker.

Online Tournaments
Similar to online cash games, online tournaments are going to be tougher online than live as well. However, given the nature of tournaments, they are still very beatable and you will run into a lot of recreational players at all stakes.

We suggest you reduce your online poker tournament stakes by at least half of what you would typically play live.

To give you an idea of how the live vs online competition compares to one another, most professional poker players agree that the skill level of players in a $1000 tournament live are equivalent to the skill level of a $20 tournament online.

The good news is: if you can beat $20 tournaments online over a large sample, you can be sure that you are winning long term in almost any live tournament that you enter.

Because there is so much variance in poker tournaments, it is impossible for anyone to get a big enough sample size in live tournaments to figure out who is truly winning in the long run. Most pros don’t think a poker players tournament ROI (return on investment) can be accepted as true without at least 5,000-10,000 games played.

One last thing, if you play online you will most likely get a chance to play final tables quite often. This could give you a huge leg up on the competition when you get deep into live tournaments. Often times poker players only get 1 or 2 big shots at going deep in a big live tournament and you would hate to make a mistake in that spot.

We can’t stress enough how important online poker is as a training ground for any poker player.

The Advantage of Live Poker
So far we have talked a lot about why you should play online poker, now lets talk about why you should play live poker.

The live poker competition is overall really weak.

If you have any knowledge of the game you are probably a favorite in the game you are playing.

While you may see a lot less hands per hour in live poker, you will also be playing with people who are out to have fun and don’t care if they blow money.

If you are good at reading physical tells, you will of course want to play live poker. While I am somewhat skeptical of anyone who relies on purely physical tells to play poker, I do think it can be an advantage in some situations.

You should use online poker as a training ground so you are more prepared to play higher stakes in live poker. Once you can confirm over a large sample size that you are a winning online player, live poker will come easy to you. Building confidence in yourself and your skill set is paramount for success in poker. Remember to enjoy the entire process of improving as a player. Poker is a marathon not a sprint.

If you are looking to play online poker we suggest playing at the following sites.


Gambling is hard enough without having to worry about the legitimacy of the site you are playing on. When you factor in the chance of a site not paying out or is operating in an unfair manner, it becomes nearly impossible to find a good reason to want to play poker online. That is the reason we started Safe Online Bets. We have been working in the online gambling industry for over 18 years and have seen it all. There have been multiple sites that have come and gone and we have been victims of some of the scandals ourselves. While we can't promise you are going to win when you gamble, we can promise to find you the safest sites to play on and inform you of the sites to avoid.


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