Playing poker at a live table in a casino can be exciting, but it's not for everyone. There are a lot of challenges involved, from getting a seat at the type of table you want, to finding a smoke-free environment in which to play.
Poker rooms and online casinos offer the same experience found in Las Vegas and casinos throughout the United States. Online casino poker does have a few distinct advantages, though.
If you are interested in transitioning from online play to live tables—and major tournaments like the World Series of Poker—learning to play online also builds up a strong foundation of knowledge and skill without the big investment required by live games.
The Player's Guide to Casino Poker
This guide goes over the types of poker usually seen at casino tables and their online counterparts. You'll learn the numerous advantages offered to the online player, as well as how one can enjoy the social aspect of a live game using video streaming.
What Types of Poker are Played in Casinos?
If you're new to poker, you're probably wondering what types of games you should focus on. The most common games played in casinos and professional tournaments are as follows:
- Texas Hold'em
- Omaha Hold'em
- Seven Card Stud
- Draw Poker
Some tournaments will offer more obscure varieties like Razz and Eight-or-Better. Most of these games are simple variants of seven card stud with different card and hand values, so it is easy to quickly adapt to them. You will invariably find at least one or two of the games above played regularly, but finding a Razz table at a brick-and-mortar casino may be difficult.
Texas Hold'em is the game most often played in the professional tournaments on television. But interestingly enough, Omaha Hold'em is best suited to the strategies that most online players employ. Texas Hold'em is required if you ever hope to become a professional player at live games, but if you're content with being a good mid-level player at online sites, you'll probably find that Omaha Hold'em is the quickest way to achieve your goals.
What are the Drawbacks of Live Casino Poker Play?
The biggest problem with live casino play is a simple lack of tables. If you wander around the casino floors in Las Vegas or similar locales, you'll notice that the poker rooms tend to be on the small side. That's because poker makes relatively little money for the casino—and why flashy, money-making slot machines dominate the floor space.
To get a seat at a casino table, one usually has to get on a wait list. You will need to stay in the casino until your name is called, and if you don't show up within five to ten minutes, your spot goes to the next person on the list. You can expect to wait for an hour or more. Casinos offer limited activities that don't involve spending money, so your time spent waiting tends to deplete your bankroll.
Next, there's the issue of finding a table with suitable stakes. There are limited tables available, and casinos profit from a percentage of the pot of each hand played. So casino poker skews toward high limits. High limits, in turn, attract more skilled players hunting for inexperienced competitors aka “fish.” So if you're not an experienced player, it's hard to find competition suited to your level and compatible with your bankroll.
Then there's the issue of smoking. Las Vegas and California poker rooms don't allow smoking during play, and you're also not allowed to smoke at any tournament table. Non-smokers playing outside California and Nevada can have a hard time finding cash games where smoking is forbidden.
Finally, there's the overall expense. We've already touched on the costs of waiting around for a table—as well as the fact that you may have to play at higher stakes than your bankroll allows. Then there's tipping. It's customary to tip dealers—usually, one dollar per pot won. It's customary to tip cashiers when you win, cocktail waitresses when they bring drinks or food to your table and any other floor staff that provides a service while playing. The expenses can add up very quickly. Add the travel costs to get to the casino and the price of a hotel room, and you are spending a lot of money that is not even related to the game!
The Advantages of Online Play
When you play online you'll enjoy:
- Any table, available whenever you want it.
- Your choice of stakes (including micro-stakes and free tournaments that you'll never see at a live casino).
- The most comfortable environment possible.
- No tipping expenses.
You'll also give less of your bankroll to the house. While online games tend to charge similar rakes (the commission fee taken by the house) as their live counterparts, you will spend less in the long run because of various rakeback offers and bonuses. Most online casinos give you some percentage of your rake at the end of each month, generally 25% to 50%.
Experienced online players can also play multiple tables at once. Why is this an advantage? It's the only way to increase your expected rate of profit per hour without having to move into high-stakes games where the competition tends to be much more fierce. Hands move faster online than they do at a live table, so you gain more experience without wagering too much.
The human element doesn't exist in online play. While some people don't like this, online players are usually happy to play without it. Newer players don't have to worry about “tells” or trying to read other players, and can focus their efforts on learning the fundamentals of the game.
Obnoxious players may talk trash or make weird noises intentionally during play to try to get an advantage. These antics are called “angle shooting” or “acting out of turn, ” and the best remedy is to close the chat window.
Live Online Casino Poker
Let's say you like the social element of live play, but not the expense. Live streaming poker games are the perfect solution.
With a live online poker game, you get streaming video of a dealer dealing the cards. Most of these games allow you to interact through a button-based interface and a live text chat. There are also games that require a webcam so that all the participants can see and hear each other.
Casino Poker in Your Living Room
Playing casino poker games at home or even on your phone has become quite simple. You'll enjoy lower costs, fewer annoyances and more conveniences. If you want the experience of sitting in at a live table without all of the hassles and added expenses, live streaming video poker may be an excellent fit.