Online poker has become hugely popular with the internet producing players who have gone on to conquer real world poker tournaments and allowing people to learn to play poker in the comfort of their own homes. Obviously there are benefits to playing poker from home, but there are also some downsides that may not obviously become apparent and the differences between real life poker and online poker can often be significant.
Pros of Online Poker
The first big advantage of online poker is it offers unrivalled variety compared to offline options. There are literally thousands of poker games occurring at all times of the day and night and of course every conceivable variety of poker game is available to play if you look in the right place. This is something which few players actually take advantage of, but switching up the game you play each time will improve your playing style and your poker knowledge in general. You could even perform 'multi-tabling', having multiple game windows running simultaneously to instantly boost the hourly winnings you take home from online tables.The second advantage is the lower cost buy-ins and the lower rake rates which internet casinos take from each game. Because there are no croupiers, security or buildings to maintain it's a lot cheaper to play poker online, with some tiny minimum bets and some sites even offering free poker games which can serve as an invaluable learning resource. Finally there's the conveninence that playing online affords over real life poker. You can play in your dressing gown, you can play dressed as a Storm Trooper, you can play first thing in the morning or last thing at night and you don't need to pay for casino drinks or food whilst you're playing, which mount up if you go out and play poker in real life. You can play poker online whilst you're performing other tasks.
Cons of Online Poker
The first negative side of online poker is the speed at which hands are played. Because there's no delay in dealing or sorting out bets you'll get through a game much quicker, so it's a lot easier to lose money quickly, particularly if you're a beginner. The speed also can contribute to a couple of other issues. Firstly it will be a lot harder to follow what's going on in a game, like following the folds and keep a track of the prior actions on the table as you are able to do in real life, as some people fold instantaneously or have their computers do it for them automatically in certain situations. This style of fast play can also lead to a simplified, mechanical and ultimately boring poker lifestyle, which in the end is more likely to lead to a habit forming gambling problem. The second most obvious issue is the lack of physical contact with other players, meaning it's a lot harder to out-bluff an opponent or observe any tells which will let you know when a player is bluffing. This can make high risk bets a lot riskier than they would be in real life. It's very hard to recreate the feel of a poker table online, though some companies do try and do this more than others.