Poker boomed in the mid-2000s. Some point to televised tournaments as the reason – while others attribute it to Chris Moniker.

Dubbed The Moneymaker, Christopher Bryan proved that amateurs can beat the pros and become rich when he won the Main Event at the 2003 World Series of Poker. He was the first person to clinch World Champion status by qualifying at an online poker site, skyrocketing the popularity of the game.

While online poker isn’t necessarily more important than live poker, there are visible differences in the two games that open up the turf on how and why players compete, and allow for a customized level of engagement.

Playing Online

So when should you play online?

If you’re just starting out, have a smaller bankroll and you get bored at a live table, then multi-tabling will be a perfect fit for you. You’re going to have a lot more playable hands when you’re at 2, 4 and 6 tabling. In contrast to live poker – where you only have recourse to one table and 30 hands per hour – online poker gives you recourse to two, six and as many as 24 tables. This translates into 120, 360 and 1440 effective hands per hour respectively.

Working on a formula of 1:2 (one- or two-dollar no-limit bets) and a standard winning-rate of three big blinds per 100 hands – you’re looking at making 7.20; 21.60 and 86.40 dollars per hour respectively. This is in direct correlation to whether you’re playing 2, 6 or 24 tables.

With live poker, and having recourse to one table – and at max 30 hands – you’re looking at only making 1.80 dollars an hour.

This makes poker great if you’re looking to make an income.

Live Poker

If you’re looking to play recreationally, are maybe bad at multi-tabling and enjoy the thrill of risk-taking, then live poker is for you. The seriousness of online players who are solely there to make an income off the game – can be off-putting to players who are simply looking for a good time and to unwind, relax and socialize with others.

The style of play in live poker is more casual. You don’t have leaderboards tracking players’ wins and losses (as you do with online poker). The caveat with live poker, however, is that you need to have a relatively high bankroll to play, and it is estimated to be 10 times riskier than online poker, so you’re likely to see huge swings in your bankroll.

With live poker you are playing the environment and the inefficiencies of others, especially those who haven’t properly familiarized themselves with the rules. This can, however, work in your favour, if you are looking to make some money, but then you need to be in it for the long haul. Unlike online, live poker is a game that requires reading other players’ body language to anticipate their intentions, and it takes time to unveil their preferences and game styles, and to make subsequent judgements. This could be quite tedious for some personalities who would find the speed and multi-tabling of online poker more stimulating.