If you are used to playing Texas holdem on line you will have an entirely different experience when you begin to play holdem live. There are so many differences between the online holdem game and the live game played in a poker room that the initial live game may be overwhelming the first time you play. Let’s explore a few of the differences.
Hands played per Hour
Online, if you only play at one table, you will play around 60 hands per hour. Of course, this number can increase or decrease a bit but it is a pretty good starting point. If you are a proficient online player you are playing at two or more tables at a time. Some players I know play at 16 tables on two different sites simultaneously. My online limit is four active tables on a really good day. Playing at four tables I will see around 240 hands per hour.
In the poker room I can only play at one table. To do otherwise would be physically impossible. I will see around 30 hands per hour. It would seem that the slot online should appear to be in slow motion to the online player, but it isn’t. There is so much going on at the table that it is hard to follow until you get used to the commotion.
At the same time, those used to the nonstop action online will often become impatient with the live game.
Online your hole cards are face up to you. They never leave your field of vision unless you muck them and even then they can be retrieved with a simple mouseover. You never forget what you have because it is always there.
In a live poker room your cards are dealt face down and, after taking a look and deciding to play most players drop a chip over them as protection. You rely on memory as you play your hand.
At the live poker table there are two schools of thought about looking back at your cards. The first school proclaims that looking back gives your opponent too much information and suggest that you not look back ever. The other school of thought suggests that looking doesn’t actually give your opponent any more information than they already have so it is better to be sure than sorry. They say go ahead and look when you need to and even sometimes when you don’t.
Decision Making Time
Not only are more hands played per hour online but the time allotted to make a difficult decision is extremely short. Making decisions quickly can often lead to misreads so I have found that tight is really right online.
At the live table, however, players are given wide latitude in the time allowed to make a difficult decision in no-limit holdem. It is not unheard of for players to apologize for taking too much time when making tough choices. It is also not unheard of for an opponent to “call the clock” on a player taking too much time, although this is quite rare and considered bad behavior.
When I am playing live, I try to take the same amount of time for every decision, even the easy ones. But, on occasion I am forced into a difficult decision and I do not hesitate to take the time I need to make my play. This, of course, slows the game down in ways that the online game doesn’t tolerate.
The Commotion at the Live Table
Online you only have the chat box to interrupt your train of thought and if it is bothersome you can mute the offending player. Online there is no one offering you free drinks, the dealer is silent, there are no conversations going on while players are not in a hand.
None of this is true when playing live. Conversations go on constantly. Poker is a social game and this is part of it. There are few hands in which some server is not taking orders for free drinks. There is noise from other tables and, in one poker room I play in, loud clanging of slot machines never ceases. All of this commotion tends to disrupt your thinking if you can’t close it out.
While these are not the only differences between online and live games, they are the most common. It takes some getting used to as you transition from the isolation of online games to live holdem games. I made that transition and now I prefer the social contact of the live game.