Online Poker: The Fundamental Differences Between Virtual and Physical Poker

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Are you a poker aficionado? However, are you used to going to play poker at the local brick-and-mortar casino? Are you interested in moving across to the online environment? What is the difference between online poker and poker players in a physical locale?

There has been widespread and sustained adoption of the virtual casino environment driven by the global lockdown or shelter-in-place requirements. The world is cautiously emerging into the New Normal. However, it will be months or even years before the world goes back to what it was in 2019. Therefore, there is an anticipation that the virtual poker will continue to gain the widespread traction it has during the first half of 2024.

The differences between online and brick-and-mortar poker

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Poker is defined as “any of a number of card games in which players wager over which hand is best according to that specific game’s rules in ways similar to these rankings.”  They use a standard deck of cards, and “games vary in deck configuration, the number of cards in play, the number dealt face up or face down, and the number shared by all players, but all have rules which involve one or more rounds of betting.”

Consequently, based on this definition, it is essential to note that poker is poker, irrespective of the platform or environment it is played in. The same mathematical truths and betting tactics apply to both online and brick-and-mortar poker.

Nonetheless, there are several substantial differences between playing poker online and in a room with other people; the most important difference being that virtual poker games are hosted by Casimba, an online casino, and brick-and-mortar poker is played in a physical cardroom, mostly hosted by a casino.

Therefore, it is crucial to adjust your gaming strategies from the physical environment to the online ecosystem.

Apart from the physical locale, some of the other differences include:

The speed of the game

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Online poker games are much faster than physical poker games. The virtual dealer deals double the number of hands per hour than a human dealer in a brick-and-mortar casino. Ergo, a computer dealer can deal between 60 and 80 hands per hour, while a human dealer can only deal between 30 and 40 hands per hour. The principal reason for this is because functions like the shuffling of cards, the determining of the best hand, and the awarding of the winning pot are automated.

Online poker is less social

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Part of winning at poker includes successfully reading the “tells” that potentially give away the strength, or weakness, of the other players’ hands. And, a player who is skilled at reading these “poker tells” has an improved chance of winning.

This ability is taken away in online poker, simply because you are playing against a computer-generated opposition. Even if you are playing against human opponents, their identities are concealed in the virtual environment. It is well-known that people behave differently when their true identities are hidden.

Research has shown that that people tend to say and “do things in cyberspace that they normally would not do in the face-to-face world.”

Therefore, when playing poker, players can react more aggressively. Thus, you will see frequent bluff-raises and check-raises. Succinctly stated, people are less afraid of making fools of themselves in the virtual space.

Hourly win/loss rates are magnified

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Because the number of games played per hour is double that of a brick-and-mortar cardroom, the number of bets per hour is also much higher. For example, a good poker player can sit down at a brick-and-mortar Texas Hold’em poker table with a £100 and make the money last for a couple of hours. Juxtapositionally, the corresponding £100 will only last about 45mins at a virtual poker table. The common denominator here is that both these gaming environments offer £3/6 low-limit games.

The challenge with the speed of online poker games is that time feels compressed, and, even though you might be making the correct decisions, it is still possible to lose a substantial sum of money because the more games are played per hour, your wins and losses are magnified.

The buy-in is higher

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The process of entering a poker game is known as the buy-in. It is essentially the up-front payment that a player must make before sitting down at the actual or virtual table. This buy-in determines the total prize pool and includes the house fee.

There is no standard buy-in amount. Every game is different. Therefore, it is best to look at the buy-in amount before you enter the game.

Secondly, it is vital to be cognizant of the fact that the buy-in to a virtual poker game is likely to be higher than the physical equivalent. This is because the gameplay is twice as fast, and the wins and losses are magnified in a virtual environment. Simply stated, because more hands are dealt per hour, you will need more money to place bets at the same time.

Play at multiple tables simultaneously

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Even though the speed of online poker is double that of a game played at in a physical location, experienced virtual poker players can play at two or more tables simultaneously.

Up till mid-2019, several of the bigger virtual poker gaming companies limited online players from playing as many as 24 tables concurrently. They are only now allowed to play at a maximum of 4 tablets at the same time. The only reason given is that it is the brand’s responsibility to ensure that all its players have safe and enjoyable gaming experience.

Therefore, should you wish to play concurrently at more than one poker table, it’s best to check with your online casino because it seems as though different poker providers have set varying limits on the number of tables players can play at.

Final thoughts

As described above, there are several prominent differences between virtual and brick-and-mortar poker games. While these differences might seem overwhelming to the online poker novice, they are not insurmountable. All that is required to succeed at online poker is a change of strategy and time to adjust to the new environment.