Comparing online poker and land-based poker is a time-honored debate that hearkens back to the poker boom era.
Internet poker’s most obvious advantage is that it’s more convenient than the brick-and-mortar version. This is a huge reason online poker experienced a boom in the mid-2000s.
But one thing that I’d like to explore is the specific advantages that internet poker tournaments have over land-based events.
That said, I’m going to cover 9 reasons why you should choose online tournaments over brick-and-mortar tourneys.
1 – Online Poker Tournaments Don’t Require Travel & Extra Expenses
The great thing about online poker tournaments is that you don’t have to go anywhere to play. Instead, you merely sign up and deposit at a poker site to get started.
Actually, you don’t even need to make a deposit because many sites offer free rolls for new members that give them an opportunity to win money. But if you’re looking to maximize your return on the cyber felt, then I recommend depositing right away.
No matter if you deposit or play open freerolls, the great thing is that you can do so on your couch, in your bedroom, or while riding on public transportation.
Let’s contrast this to everything that goes into playing in a land based poker tournament.
First off, you need to travel to a poker room or casino that holds these events. This won’t be such a burden if you live in a big poker city like Los Angeles or London.
But if you don’t live anywhere near a poker room, then it becomes a huge inconvenience to travel. And let’s not forget that most of the bigger tournaments are held in places like Atlantic City, L.A., and Las Vegas.
Traveling is only the tip of the iceberg, because you also need to account for the extra expenses you’ll be spending at a land based casino tournament. Here are estimations on what you’ll spend during your trip:
- Hotel room – $80 to $200 per night
- Extra hotel fees and tips – $30 per day
- Transportation (driving/flying & Uber/taxi) – avg. $50 per day
- Food – $40 per day
- Total = Anywhere from $200 to $320 per day
It’s expensive for an amateur to play in brick-and-mortar tourneys with these costs – let alone a professional who’s traveling the tournament circuit.
Poker pros must invest a lot of money into transportation, hotel rooms, and eating on the road. If you have aspirations of being a pro someday, chances are that it’s going to be online due to how expensive land-based tournaments are.
2 – It’s Faster to Play in Internet Poker Tournaments
Adding to online poker’s convenience advantage is that cyber tournaments move faster than what’s seen in land based poker rooms.
The average tournament with nine or ten players at a table will see fifty to sixty hands per hour. This is double what you’ll see in brick and mortar tourneys.
That said, it’s no wonder online poker tournaments run at a faster pace.
Internet poker sites have timers that force each player to make decisions quickly. In many cases, you only have fifteen seconds to perform an action.
You can call the clock on players who are taking too long in some land-based poker tournaments. But there’s also peer pressure to avoid doing this, because you don’t want to create drama by calling the clock on somebody.
Clock or no clock, many poker pros have complained about how slow land-based poker moves these days. This includes Patrik Antonius, who told PokerNews in a 2017 interview that he finds land-based tournaments boring.
“I’m personally not a fan of the way poker has evolved, how people slow the game down and it’s a bit less gambling and less fun nowadays,” said Antonius. “People take it a little too serious in my opinion.”
If you’re somebody who wants action and doesn’t like waiting around for hands, then I strongly suggest you join online poker tournaments due to their faster speed.
And if you’re really a speed junkie, you should try turbo events. The blind rates move at a faster rate in these tournaments, causing them to finish quicker.
3 – You can Multi-Table in Online Poker Tournaments
The nice thing about land-based poker tournaments being slow is that it gives you plenty of time to build profiles on opponents. This is especially important for a beginner who’s not used to handling the different situations in a poker tourney.
But as you gain more poker experience, you’ll find that land-based events move very slowly. This is when playing multiple tables at once (a.k.a. multi-tabling) is really beneficial.
Multi-tabling provides the following benefits for tournament players:
1 – It increases your rate of return (ROI).
2 – You cut down on the wait time in between hands.
3 – You play more hands per hour and improve quicker.
The key to multi-tabling is that you want to be successful with a single tourney before playing extra tables. Assuming you can consistently beat certain online tournament stakes, you may want to add an extra table and see how you do.
Some of the best internet tournament pros can handle up to eight tables on a consistent basis. But the majority of players still earn a high ROI by multi-tabling three or four tables.
4 – You can Multi-Task Away from Online Poker Tables
One thing that I find really tough about land-based poker tournaments is that you’re essentially confined to playing poker while you’re there.
Sure, you can use your smartphone at many poker rooms as long as you’re not slowing down the action. But you still need to sit at the table and focus on poker.
Obviously, the point of playing either online or land-based poker is the game itself. But I personally like getting up from the table whenever, without feeling like I’m being stared at.
The other good thing about being able to move around freely during an online tournament is that you can multi-task around the house.
If you want to make a sandwich, the kitchen is just a short distance away. If you want to fold laundry during slow points in the tournaments, you can also do this.
Of course, you certainly want to spend time watching opponents, so you can better read them during crucial hands. But, the point is that, online poker tournaments give you more freedom to move around.
5 – Small Stakes Tournament Players Have More Options Online
Another knock against land-based tourneys is that the buy-ins are quite high for low rollers.
You can find some low buy-in tournaments at local poker rooms. But the majority of multi-table tournaments (MTTs) will cost $100 or more to enter.
This is why internet poker is so appealing to low rollers. You can play for a very small investment. In fact, most online poker rooms have tournaments with buy-ins as low as $1+$0.10.
You can also find a number of tournaments with the entry fees ranging from $5+$0.50 to $50+$5. The upside of playing in tournaments like these is that you’re normally competing for a larger prize pool.
Online poker has plenty of high roller events for those who have the bankroll. That said, internet poker accommodates a wider range of players than land-based poker rooms.
6 – You Can Quickly Move Around Different Poker Rooms
Even in a big city like L.A. or Vegas, it’s hard to travel around the different poker rooms when you want to play in various tournaments. In other words, you can’t simultaneously be at The Bellagio and Harrah’s.
This brings me to another victory for online poker, because you can quickly go from poker site to poker site. All you need to do is make a few clicks (PC) or finger swipes (smartphones), and you can open a new poker room with a different tournament schedule.
This is great for times when you see multiple events that you want to play, around the same time. Here’s an example:
- PokerStars is holding a $100,000 guaranteed tourney at 8:00pm.
- 888poker is holding a $50,000 guaranteed tourney at 6:00pm.
- Partypoker is holding a $25,000 guaranteed tourney at 7:00pm.
- I open all three poker sites and play in each event, despite the overlapping times.
While bigger land based poker events like the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and PokerStars Caribbean Adventure (PCA) offer a large tourney schedule within a few short days, you still wouldn’t be able to pull off the scenario above.
If you’re somebody who wants to take advantage of the juiciest tournaments that poker has to offer, you should sign up at multiple sites. From here, all you need to do is make sure your login info is entered at each poker site, so you can quickly maneuver around them.
7 – Other Players Can’t See or Read You
Much is made about your mannerisms and facial gestures in live poker. And this is exaggerated to some degree thanks to Hollywood movies.
But experienced players can pick up on the nervous tickets that beginners have in certain situations. If you’re worried about this, the good news is that you don’t have to deal with players seeing you in online poker tournaments.
All they see is your screen name and an avatar. And the only things they have to read you with include your betting patterns and hand range.
Beyond the fact that nobody can read your facial expressions in internet poker, you also don’t have to socialize with anybody.
This can be a bad thing if you’re a social person who likes this aspect of live poker. But other players don’t like chatting with opponents during the game and just want to focus on the cards.
Internet poker offers the perfect platform for anybody who wants to enjoy the game without being seen or having to talk to anyone.
8 – You’ll find More Types of Internet Poker Tournaments
Land-based poker tournaments are seriously lacking in variety. Outside of big events like the WSOP or PCA, you’ll normally only find Texas Hold’em events.
The reason being, Hold’em is the world’s most popular poker game. Brick-and-mortar poker rooms don’t have much room to experiment by running Razz or seven-card stud events.
The larger online poker sites, on the other hand, routinely offer a wide variety of tourneys. Not only will you find tournaments with different poker variations like Omaha and Badugi, but you’ll also be able to try new formats.
Here are some of the various poker tourneys you’ll find around the industry:
- Texas hold’em
- Omaha hi lo
- Seven card stud
- 8 game mix
- 10 game mix
- Lottery style
- Ladies only
- Fast Fold (e.g. Zoom and Snap)
Of course, you may need to join different poker sites to enjoy this variety. But it shouldn’t be a problem as long as your country/territory is accepted at the major sites.
9 – You’re Guaranteed Loyalty Rewards
One thing I hate about playing in land-based tournaments is that you don’t get any comps.
Brick-and-mortar casinos don’t really make anything off tourneys, even when fees are accounted for. Therefore, it makes sense that they don’t want to offer comps to players.
But while this is understandable, I like having the opportunity to collect VIP rewards on top of my play. Online poker gives you this chance by awarding loyalty points based on how much you pay in fees.
Here’s an example:
- You buy into a $20+$2 poker tournament.
- The $2 is the fee that you pay the poker site.
- You’ll be awarded loyalty points based on your $2 expense.
- You continue getting points for subsequent fees paid.
Internet poker sites allow you to use your loyalty points to earn cashback, get into freerolls, and purchase tournament tickets. Assuming you play a lot of online poker, then you’ll rack up some good freebies that’ll help boost your bankroll.
Both online and brick-and-mortar poker tournaments have their advantages and disadvantages. But as I’ve discussed here, internet poker has sown specific benefits that appeal to certain types of players.
My personal favorite advantage is that you don’t have to go anywhere or pay travel expenses to play in online poker tournaments. Instead, you can grab your smartphone or hop on your PC and browse through the tourney lobby.
Another huge advantage is that internet poker offers convenience in several different aspects. You can complete faster tournaments, play multi-table events, and multi-task away from the tables.
You may have different advantages that you love about online poker. And I highly suggest that you play online so that you can enjoy the benefits I’ve covered here.