Online poker you can play anytime you want — 24/7 365. You can play it in total comfort, right from your own home, wearing whatever you like (or nothing at all), sitting, reclining, or jogging on a treadmill (though we don’t recommend it). You can set the lighting, temperature, and ambience to be just as you like it. In many ways, with online poker you simply have more control.
You have no other people to contend with (at least not in person) — no one hovering over you, talking at you, pushing you, crowding around you, giving you unsought advice, or shooting you nasty looks. You don’t have to smell smoke if you don’t want to. You have no sexy waitresses tempting you with mind-altering drinks and otherwise distracting your attention away from the game at hand (pun completely intended). You don’t have to drive anywhere (and with gas prices what they are, that alone preserves your bankroll tremendously), nor do have to get dressed up or tip your dealer — all of which save you time and money.
Another benefit of online poker is that you can play against people from across the globe. Think about it next time you sit down at an online poker table — not everyone there even speaks the same language. And globetrotting on the internet gives you access to more casinos and poker rooms than you can ever find in one single place, even if that one place happens to be Vegas!
Online poker players get to choose from an inordinate variety of cardrooms, game types, and table stakes. Moments ago, we mentioned the ambience of the environment where you’ll be sitting idn poker down with your computer to play online poker (most likely your home), but online poker gives you almost just as much control in determining the ambience of the cardroom itself.
Whether you enjoy an Old West setting, a Hollywood setting, an Egyptian setting, a jungle setting, a resort setting, and on and on…you can almost certainly find an online poker room designed around whatever theme suits your tastes. Likewise, you can find rooms more likely to have more (or less) experienced players, faster (or slower) action, higher (or lower) stakes, etc.
By the same token, however, when playing online poker it also helps to be aware of its perceived disadvantages as compared with playing traditional “offline” poker. A simple awareness of the difference alone can make you a better player.
For one, you don’t get that intimate, face-to-face contact with other human beings. But don’t rule online poker out as a social outlet altogether. More and more online poker rooms are fostering a real sense of community amongst their players with attractive and appealing member’s clubs, player forums, and sponsored land-based events.
For some poker players, the game just isn’t the same without the feel of the cards in your hands and the weight of the chips as you place them in the center of the table (or the sound of them clinking as you pull the pile towards you after a big win). And you can’t substitute a number, however large or small, for the visual impact of the chip stacks — red, blue, and white — increasing or receding in front of you and expect the same effect.
But probably the biggest deal that makes some offline poker players leery of playing online poker is the inability to read the other players. Most expert poker players rely on inadvertent visual cues given by their opponents — tells — as to the actual strength or weakness of their hands. There is something to be said for the amount of information you can glean by simply looking your opponent in the eyes (thus the prevalence of sunglasses at the poker table) and watching their hands, their posture, their facial expressions, etc. Fortunately, however, there are a number of tells you can look for in online poker as well, you just have to know where (and how) to look. But that’s a subject for another article.