How Online Poker Has Changed The Game Forever
There’s no doubt about it. In around two decades the game of poker has undergone a remarkable transformation. Where it once conjured up images of men gathered in smoky back-rooms playing for high stakes and taking no prisoners in their quest for victory, the advent of online poker has changed the game’s profile forever.
Naturally, this hasn’t been celebrated by everyone but it’s certainly been part of a trend that has seen a number of classic casino games finding a new lease of life online. The technology that has made this possible has also meant that the quality, variety, and reliability of the games have been on an exponential curve of improvement, gaining a growing band of players all the time.
So this seems like a good moment to take a look at the two forms of the game to compare and contrast them, as well as identifying their individual strengths.
The first thing to say is that a great deal of time and effort has been invested on the part of the online casinos to make their version of poker as much like the “live” experience as possible. So whether you’re a fan of cash games or tournament play you’ll find that both are widely available. In the case of the latter, there is also a considerable crossover with many online tournaments acting as qualifiers for live ones. Some even include the opportunity to qualify for the prestigious World Series of Poker that’s held in Las Vegas each summer.
A whole new generation of players
So, in a sense, one important contribution the online game has made to poker, in general, has been to open it up to a huge number of players who may previously be reluctant to throw themselves into playing the live game. With many of the best sites offering the chance to play for free until the player feels confident enough to put real money on the game, it’s the perfect environment for beginners.
Another important aspect of this is that online there is any number of comparatively low-stakes games which are perfect for both beginners as well as for people who see the game as an entertaining way to pass the time rather than as a money-making exercise. Of course, the flipside is that anyone wanting to win a big pot in a dramatic showdown may be better off playing the live version of the game.
Anyone who’s ever played the game will also tell you that a key element of being successful at poker is being able to observe opponents and analyze their style of play, propensity to take risks and to get to understand their particular foibles when at the table. Obviously, this becomes a little more problematic in the online game as all you have to go on is the way that the cards are being played. Certainly, you can start to observe the habits and patterns of play but be being able to spot those all important tells is one key element that is missing. But, as they say, what goes around comes around, so your own tell-tale signs will also be impossible for your opponents to spot when you play.
The games you can play
Moving on to the variety of different poker games available it’s fair to say that live poker will always win out in this respect. When you play online by far the most common game is Texas Hold’em but there’s an almost infinite number of variations in the live game that are favored by players from 7 Card Stud to Omaha. And, although the online game may favor a more limited choice of games, it more than makes up for the fact that through the different variations that are available.
In particular, these address an issue that many players have with the live game, namely the time it takes to complete a hand. For example, playing against real opponents you’ll be lucky to play 30 hands in an hour while the average for online poker can be around 60 an hour. Then there’s the added advantage of being able to play on more than one table at the same time. Although this sounds like a tall order needing considerable multitasking skills, once you get into the swing of things it’s very manageable indeed. Online you can even turbocharge your play with one of the increasing numbers of “sit and go” games or other innovative variations including a BLAST poker that you play against the clock in a bid to win a randomly selected jackpot. It’s fast, furious and a whole lot of fun.
While both forms of the game do obviously have their own advantages, and possible shortcomings, there is one important area in which online poker wins out every time. This is in the flexibility and freedom that it gives players to enjoy a game virtually whenever and wherever they want. All they need is a device that’s connected to the internet and they’re ready to go. And, although you might think that play would be better on a PC or a tablet, great strides have been made to optimize online play for mobile devices too. Compare this with the complication of getting yourself into a live game, and the potential time that this can take to play, and it’s easy to see why the online option has proved to be such a great success.
The thrill of the win
Having said this, players who have grown used to the thrill of the live game and the adrenaline rush of grabbing a big win surrounded by opponents who have been outwitted and outplayed will find the online game a rather dry and unemotional way to play.
But that’s not to say that the two forms can’t complement each other perfectly with the online game being played for speed and convenience and the live version as more of a social event – even if your ultimate aim is to beat your opponents into submission!
It’s also very likely that online poker sites will continue in their drive to make the experience of playing on them more and more like the real thing and some are already experimenting with virtual reality to achieve this. So before long you could even be playing in some of the world’s most prestigious poker venues – all from the comfort of your own home.