Several significant differences between online and live tournaments call for adjustments in the way you play. Awareness of these can make a big difference in your results.

Players Online Play Looser

For obvious reasons, players are more relaxed playing online. online they’re in the comfort of their own homes, no one is staring them down, and they’re not being scrutinized by crowds or TV cameras. This relatively more secure environment, combined with the ease of clicking a mouse rather than having to count out chips and put them in the pot, leads to looser calls and more bluffing than in live events.

Contributing to looser and more aggressive play online is the fact that players usually have less of an investment in online tournaments than in live events. online, buy-ins are generally lower and there aren’t any travel expenses involved. Higher buy-ins and travel expenses incurred in live tournaments raise the incentive for most players to modify their decisions toward a more conservative survival strategy, instead of implementing a higher-risk aggressive approach.

Nowhere is this difference more marked than in the lower-buy-in NLHE events at the World Series of Poker. In these events, play is generally much tighter than online, except for the loose-passive “calling stations” who also frequent these events.

If players get knocked out of an online tournament, they can jump right into another one shortly thereafter. Either they build up enough chips to have a shot at winning or they bust out trying, then start fresh in a new event.

Adjustments to Capitalize on These Differences:
Bluffing: Because play is generally looser and players call more frequently, you should bluff less online. Here, players are often reluctant to fold if they flop top pair and a halfway decent side card. you’ll frequently see players commit all their chips with hands such as QsJs on a board of Qh 9h 4c, even though their opponent bets aggressively at every opportunity. In live play, it’s far more likely that a player will bail out long before committing all his chips with such a marginal hand.

To take advantage of this, bluff less, but overplay your big hands by betting a greater amount than usual. If you flop a set, bet 70% of the pot instead of checking to a pre-flop raiser. If he raises, just call. on the turn, bet again, but make it look weak, betting 1/3-1/2 of the pot. If he moves in (this may be on a bluff or with top pair), call. If he only calls on the turn, move all-in on the river. If he’s got top pair or better, most of the time you’ll get all his chips.

Because play is tighter live, you should bluff more frequently. you have greater fold equity, so you need to win less frequently at showdowns to have positive EV. This makes semi-bluffing more profitable in live play. outright bluffs when scare cards hit, such as flush or straight cards, are also likely to be more successful live than online. Hands you represent live will command greater respect.

C-bets: C-bets are more likely to be successful in live play than online and should be used most of the time if you’ve raised pre-flop. online, C-bets will be challenged more frequently, especially if the flop is coordinated, so they should be employed a bit more sparingly.

Over-betting: over-betting is an effective play online. Since players call more frequently, you can sometime bet more than the size of the pot when you have a winner and still get called. As I said, many online players seem to have a phobia about folding. If they’re glued to their cards, keep firing away.

Also, if you suspect they’re on a flush or straight draw and are unlikely to fold, betting more than the pot will give them very poor pot odds for their draw. “Calling stations” get horrendously poor pot odds when you over-bet in this fashion, increasing your EV.


  1. Online players tend to call more loosely and bluff more frequently than in live events.
  2. You should bluff less online and overplay your big hands.
  3. Continuation bets (C-bets) are generally more effective in live play than online play.
  4. Over-betting can be an effective online tactic.

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