The Internet has changed the face of gambling. Online casinos and poker rooms have attracted a great deal of attention and dramatically increased the number of players around the world. Poker players may be on the rise, but the numbers aren’t the only thing about the game that has changed. The rules of the game remain the same, but online poker is a much different animal from poker played in traditional brick and mortar establishments.
Differences with Online Poker
No visual tells. In conventional casinos, poker players can observe each other, watching for telling behavior and comments. People who play online are not usually in the same room as the other players, connecting to the Internet from anywhere in the world and unable to physically assess their opponents. Online players learn to rely on other tells, such as betting patterns, reaction times, and rates of play.
Faster rate of play. In a traditional casino, the game is slowed by factors like shuffling, dealing, and chip counting. Online, the dealer is the software and the card handling is instantaneous. Auto-action buttons also increase player speed. Where offline casinos have a rate of play of roughly thirty hands per hour, online poker speed can be triple the rate or even faster.
Cheaper to play. The limits for online poker are much lower than conventional poker—cents rather than dollars. Plus the incidental costs associated with brick and mortar casinos aren’t a factor, like transportation, tipping, food and drink, and even equipment costs.
Play more tables. With traditional casinos, it’s not feasible to play more than one table at a time. Cyber casinos often offer the ability to play several tables at once. As long as the player is able to make quick, appropriate decisions, they can play more than one game, splitting their bankroll among them to stabilize win/loss percentages and better their chances of increased winnings.
Less risk for novices. Unlike regular casinos, many online poker sites will offer schools to teach the basics of the game and increase the learning curve for those who are new to the game. Poker sites may also offer free-money play to new players, giving novices the chance to practice and improve their play without risking their bankroll.
Different fraud issues. There will always be people who try to cut corners and cheat the game. Online poker is just as vulnerable to fraud as traditional poker, though the issues may be a bit different. Collusion between players has been a problem for many sites, with players working together to cheat the system and increase winnings. Mostly poker software has collusion detection capabilities, analyzing hand history to assess patterns of behavior, plus checking the IP addresses for location of the players’ computers.
For Better or Worse
Is online poker better than the traditional way to play? Many professional poker players might vigorously deny that online poker could ever compete with the conventional game. The cultures are vastly different, and the merit of each method depends upon the beliefs and preferences of the individual players.
Potentially a good player can make more money on online poker than live poker, as it is possible to play multiple tables simultaneously, and there are always games going on. If you are great at reading poker tells you might prefer live poker, but most people are not and thus online poker is a good starting point. Online poker is possibly also a good way to hone your skills as you can focus on the game play and do not have to worry about your own poker face or others.
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