As technology advances, the range of settings you can play poker in expands. Instead of traditional in-person poker gameplay, you can on an online poker site within your jurisdiction, an offshore website, or via a poker app. This leaves you with a lot of choices.
Perhaps you’d prefer the social experience of playing poker in person at a casino. Or, maybe you’re better suited to the convenience of offshore poker sites.
Below, you can find out more about the different means of playing poker, as well as the pros and cons of each.
Offshore Poker Sites
The term “offshore poker site” describes an online gambling site based outside the country you’re playing from. These sites tend to be less restricted and are popular amongst players looking to forgo the gambling laws imposed in their country.
For example, those looking for poker sites alternatives in the US often play on poker sites based in South America, as these sites do not have to abide by US gambling laws. Joe Halliday writes that these sites have been serving US players for more than 20 years already and that they commonly offer welcome bonuses of $1000 or more, so it’s clear to see why this is a popular option.
- Less restricted – throughout the 50 states, US gamblers are subject to a wide range of gambling restrictions, both online and in-person. Only 6 states have legalized poker, which means the vast majority of online poker fans need to look for offshore alternatives. These sites are less restrictive, offer more gambling options, and are more relaxed in terms of identity verification.
- Bigger wins and bigger bonuses – Being less restricted, these offshore websites often compete with each other to offer the best sign-up bonuses to new players. Plus, you may also find offshore sites to offer bigger wins.
- Privacy – In the US, most gambling sites require you to go through a lengthy verification process. This involves having your ID and proof of address verified. You may find that some offshore gambling sites have no verification process, which means you can play with greater privacy.
- Bigger player pool – On offshore sites, you can find components based around the world. Being able to access the international poker player pool means you can make your gameplay more unique and exciting.
- Unregulated – The lack of regulations found on offshore gambling sites could also be seen as a limitation. You may not be provided with the same level of player protection and may be subject to unfairness and bias in poker gameplay.
- Payment security – You may experience payment problems on offshore gambling sites as international banking regulations are different from banking regulations found in the US.
US-Regulated Online Poker Sites
If you are in a state where online poker is completely legal (such as West Virginia, Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or Michigan), perhaps you’d prefer to use a US-based online poker site.
Online poker sites hold many benefits over in-person poker and allow you to play poker from the comfort of your living room or even on the go using your mobile phone.
- Convenient – You don’t need to get dressed up and drive to the casino when you use an online poker site. You can play poker anytime and from anywhere. Also, you can play using whichever device you’re most comfortable with, whether it be your phone or your tablet. A study found that 72% of millennials prefer the convenience of online gambling to traditional gambling methods.
- Low-stake games – Online poker sites tend to be more flexible in terms of how much you can bet. This means you can find poker sites that cater more to your budget and skill level, and avoid playing games where you’re likely to lose a lot of money. Some sites may offer “micro-stake” games.
- Quick gameplay – You can quickly find a seat at a table using online poker sites, which is sometimes impossible to do in real-life casinos. Plus, cards can be dealt and bets can be accepted quickly, meaning quicker overall gameplay.
- Game variety – You can quickly and easily browse through a wide range of poker variants on a virtual casino. While a real-life casino may also have several poker gameplay options, they definitely can’t compete with the range and ease of search offered by online alternatives.
In-Person at a Casino
For some, the glamour and excitement offered by a real casino cannot be replaced by a virtual alternative. Visiting a brick-and-mortar casino and spending a few hours in front of a professional dealer, interacting with other players, and physically moving your chips is the only way to truly experience a casino.
However, there are some real drawbacks of in-person poker that you need to first consider.
- Live experience – When you visit a casino, you can enjoy the excitement and suspense of authentic poker gameplay. The lights and the flashiness simply cannot be replicated on a computer or your phone.
- Player interaction – Not only are real casinos great for those who like chatting with other players, but playing in person gives you a better chance to analyze your players. You get to read body language as the game goes on, which may allow you to gain more confidence in your poker moves.
- Entertainment and amenities – At real casinos, there are often other forms of entertainment going on. For example, you could also enjoy live music in between your poker plays. There’ll also likely be a bar or restaurant onsite.
- Dressing up – If you like dressing up for a night out, you have to experience a real casino, which often features a strict dress code.
- Travel and expenses – You need to pay to travel to a casino. Even if there’s a casino in your city, you’ll still most likely need to at least drive to it. If there’s no casino in your city, you’ll likely have to pay a significant amount in travel money and maybe even have to pay for accommodation.
- High stakes – Real-life casinos demand that you play with higher stakes than online games. This could result in you spending more than you planned to and losing a significant amount of money.
- Need experience – When you play online, you’ll have plenty of learning materials tailored for poker at hand if you’re not 100% sure of how to play. At real-life casinos, you won’t have any resources to help you play.