Online poker differs a lot from traditional casino floor play because it lacks the social component, as well as some of the elite-level strategy. If you want to play at a World Series of Poker table on television one day, you must learn how to navigate a live table game. But there is a way to increase your skill level and get used to player interactions without traveling to the Las Vegas Strip.
Live poker online gives you the best of both worlds. You can play a “live” game with a webcam and a good broadband internet connection. Each participant is filmed via their webcam, enabling you to see the other players on your screen all at once.
Playing a live game allows you to read other players—which is an integral part of any poker game. Be aware that you will have to control your body language and reactions, as the other players can see you as well. When you play with experienced players, it is more challenging than a typical online game—but when you can hold your own at this level, you can consider yourself a top-tier poker player.
The Player's Guide to Live Poker
This guide will tell you what is required to play live streaming poker online, as well as the unique rules inherent to these games. We'll also discuss the differences between live and online games, and offer some suggestions for those interested in watching professional players online.
What Do I Need to Play Live Poker?
Live streaming poker is technically more complicated than most online casino games, so it requires substantial hardware. The most powerful smartphones and tablets can handle online play with a strong broadband internet connection. But the device must be mounted in a fixed position, so players are visible at all times during the game.
Live poker works best on a PC or laptop with a connected webcam. The built-in webcam on many laptops will work perfectly. You will also need a wired or strong wifi internet connection, as you will be sending and receiving multiple videos simultaneously. Dial-up or public Wifi won’t work, and while a strong 4G mobile signal might be sufficient, it will use an enormous amount of your data.
Most games look like the standard online poker tables, except for a small video of each participant’s head and upper torso at their position. These games do not have a live dealer as the hands would have to be converted to digital cards anyway.
What Special Rules Are There for Video Streaming Live Poker?
The sites that offer live poker have fairly standard rules. Players are not allowed to engage in offensive speech or behavior, to engage in any advertising or promotional activities,and must be appropriately dressed. Players must also remain on camera at all times during play. Participants who violate these rules will be immediately removed from the game and may be banned from the site entirely.
While you must remain on camera, sites usually don't require that you leave on your audio. You can usually mute your microphone at any time, as well as mute (or blocking the video of) any other players at the table.
Be aware that sites offering live poker allow other users on the site to watch games (including the videos of the players), though they set a spectator limit.
I've Played Online Poker Before – What's Different About A Live Table?
Playing live poker at an advanced level means monitoring the reactions and mannerisms of other players, particularly in certain betting situations. It also means learning to control your body language and reactions. When you play with extremely skilled players, you also have to consider whether they are feigning reactions or changing their betting patterns to mislead you… all while attempting to do the same thing to them!
It's this extra layer of human complexity that separates the best players in the world from competent online “grinders.” Of course, not everyone you play in live poker games will be operating at this level, but it's an extra facet you have to consider – especially if you want a seat at a high stakes games.
If you've only played online until now, you may run into some new forms of unethical play that are only possible at live tables. Collectively, these techniques are called “angle shooting.” While they might not be technically illegal, they are frowned upon. Some examples include berating other players or making strange noises to distract other players. Angle shooting methods that involve manipulating or stealing chips isn’t possible online, but unethical players can do quite a bit to induce “tilt” in others at the table while still not technically breaking the rules of the game.
Can I Watch The Pros Play Live Online?
Absolutely! Many professional players periodically stream their online games through sites like Twitch. You'll usually see their play screen as well as a video insert of them in the corner describing their thought process as they play. It can be a valuable learning tool!
Big-name players such as Daniel Negreanu, Felix Schneider, Jeff Gross, Rupert Elder and Fedor Holz all participate in streaming their games. There are also some Twitch channels that regularly host a variety of poker pros such as PokerStars, Unibet and Pokerstream.
Streams are usually free to watch, but individual streamers may ask for a donation of $5 or so if you enjoy their videos. Larger organizational streams may be ad-supported.
Live Poker Goes Live Online
Live poker varies from online games, but today’s hybrid video version keeps the advantages of both while discarding many of the disadvantages. You'll need appropriate hardware and a good internet connection. While you will have to adjust to some rule changes, it's a good way to get closer to live table play from the comfort of your home.