There will always be a thrill in playing live poker.
It starts before you even sit down at the table. From the nervous excitement as you drive to your local casino, to the wave of adrenaline as you leave your hotel room and make your way to the poker room at a big live event, like the European Poker Tour (EPT).
Then the cards are dealt. Remember the jubilation of flopping a big blind special and the look on your opponent’s face when they see you’ve cracked their big hand? The hubbub on the rail when you cooler someone in a sick spot? The commotion, table taps and “nice hand”s you inspire when you make a big call with just ace-high?
Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to experience these for most of 2020.
But as more of us turn to online poker for our poker enjoyment, it turns out many of those amazing feelings are replicated in the virtual game.
Think of the incredible cards-up coverage we saw throughout the Stadium Series or EPT Online. The biggest names in the game were in action, often with on-camera interviews with the champions, just like at a regular live EPT.
There’s no doubt that anyone who sat down at their desk to play Day 2 or Day 3 of the $5,200 EPT Online Main Event was feeling the same excitement and adrenaline as they would heading to a live feature table.
Online poker has become incredibly popular this year, whether it’s playing poker online with friends in a PokerStars Home Game, or battling in a huge-field Texas Hold’em tournament with big money prizes up for grabs.
There are certainly many benefits and advantages of playing online poker instead of land-based games.
One thing that can’t be disputed is that online poker is more comfortable. You don’t have to be near other players, you can listen to music as loud as you like, and you can even play in your pyjamas curled up on the sofa. Forget about the dress codes some casinos enforce; the question is, should you even get dressed?
You don’t need to commute aside from the arduous journey from the bedroom to the study, perhaps with a few excursions to the kitchen throughout the session. And perhaps what’s most appealing about playing online poker is that you can multi-table, playing far more hands than you would in a live game, at any time of day or night you choose.
For players who consider live tells one of their strengths, chances are that online poker–at least the way it is currently played with avatars and screen names rather than live video feeds–will never be as appealing. The same is true for those players who don’t give much weight to live tells but like to exploit those who do.
But many players avoid live poker because they’re uncomfortable with other people looking at them during a hand. Maybe when you get nervous your hand starts to shake, or you have a hard time controlling your breathing under pressure.
In online poker, it’s just you, your computer, and your brain.
There have been a lot of comparisons between poker and chess lately, particularly due to the success of Netflix’s brilliant show ‘The Queen’s Gambit’. Throughout 2020, the best chess players in the world, like Magnus Carlsen, have been playing their matches online with live web-cam feeds of themselves in action.
Could anyone honestly say there’s a difference between watching that match live in person or watching it online? If anything, the online element allows more people to watch, interact, and engage with the game. You can replay hands faster, for one.
You could say the same is true in poker, with thousands of viewers tuning in to watch cards-up EPT Online coverage or PokerStars Ambassador Lex Veldhuis running deep in a big event with huge scores at stake, live on Twitch.
When it comes down to it, the poker world is better for having a mix of both online poker and live poker. The two work together in harmony.
After all, had Chris Moneymaker not qualified for the 2003 World Series of Poker on PokerStars, he would never have played it, never have won it, and thus never have sparked the poker boom which grew the game exponentially.
Online poker might never truly replace land-based games but through technological advancements and creative innovation, they will both continue to complement one another well into the future.
For now, though, online poker is all most of us have. And thank goodness for that.