Should I Learn Poker Live or Online – Part I – Online Card Rooms
Poker player over the last few years have had an advantage in learning poker due to the explosion of online poker over the last few years. For many players, the question still remains as to whether it is best to learn poker online or in a live casino. These next two articles will examine the advantages and disadvantages to both ways of learning.
First, let’s look at the online card room. No matter your game, there are sites that will spread it. Sometimes it will take a little hunting when you play at card rooms other than Pokerstars or Full Tilt, but the games exist. The biggest advantage to playing online is sheer convenience. You can play a game anywhere in the world from the comfort of your home. Also, you usually can find the game you want to play and usually at most any limit you are willing to play. There are exceptions of course, but for the most part you can find the game you want. The games also move faster due to everything being automated. As a result, you get more hands in per hour than in a live casino.
Online also allows you the opportunity to play at literally any stakes. You can play for “play money” or you can start with live money stakes at low as .01 and .02. You can even find Sit and Go tournaments for as cheap as a dime. Of course, if you are on the other end of the spectrum, you can find most any size game that your bankroll will allow. Of course, if you are a non-holdem player, you may be limited to the game you play, but it is out there.
Another advantage to playing online comes in the ability to hone your skills in games other than Holdem. It is very difficult to find non-Holdem games in many casinos on a regular basis, and when you do, there is usually one or two tables going if you are lucky. Playing online gives you constant access to all the different poker variants that you would want to play and maybe even some you didn’t know existed.
The advantage of playing from your home or on the road is huge for those that don’t live in a casino or for those that are not comfortable dealing with people sitting right next to them. You are in front of a monitor and keyboard only. When you are ready to play, you can play and you can leave when you desire. You even have the option of turning off chat from other players, allowing you to focus entirely on the cards and the action.
With the advantages come some clear disadvantages playing online. First, for those in the U.S. and in certain other locations, funding online poker accounts can be difficult, especially after the UIGEA. The difficulty in getting money to sites for some people is a big turn off. Next, some people don’t trust online sites and online transactions. The money that is deposited is not instantly available as it would be if you cashed out in an online casino.
Next, the ability to play online is only as good as your connection. While many people have strong broadband connections, players on dialup or even shaking broadband connections can sometimes have problems playing online. This results in a very frustrating game and even some missed opportunities to win pots.
Another disadvantage playing online is the ability to read players. You cannot read the players the same way that you can in a live poker game. While there are many online tells and ways of putting people on hands online, the physical nature of the game is eliminated and as a result a lot of information is lost.
A final disadvantage that is a major concern is the issue of online cheating and collusion. The chances that players are colluding with other players increases when you play poker online. Since you cannot observe players, you do not know if they are being coached online via IM, being coached over cell phone, or even coached live with a buddy playing over their shoulder. There are instances where players will multi-account or play under another person’s account. While many online sites take steps to reduce this type of behavior, it still occurs and is a major concern by many players.
Playing online gives a player the advantage of quick games, convenience, and the ability to experiment in different poker games. At the same time, playing online does come with some risks and some hindrances over live poker. In my next article, I will discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages of playing live as opposed to playing online.