There are millions of poker players in the world, many of them in New Zealand. There are six physical places to play poker in New Zealand, the Christchurch Casino, Skycity Auckland, Dunedin Casino, Skycity Hamilton, Skycity Queenstown, Skycity Wharf Casino. Unlike many places, notably California for example, there are no poker parlours where people can play the game, and New Zealand legislators are dead set against that eventuality ever happening. As it is, the government seems dead set against any expansion of physical casinos in Kiwi land, and it is likely to stay that way for the next 4 or five decades. Nevertheless, like in any other country, poker is extremely popular, and in particular, Christ Church Casino and SkyCity Auckland offer major poker tournaments that attract a ton of professional and amateur players. But as long as they don’t advertise in New Zealand, Kiwis have a wide choice of options to play poker pretty much worldwide through online casinos. And as long as you don’t make the majority of your living playing poker at online casinos, Kiwis do not even have to pay tax on their gambling winnings.

Online Poker vs Live Poker, is there a difference?

Yes, indeed. First, except for tournaments, most poker games in a New Zealand casino are limited to $1, $2, or $5 limit games. Yes, you can easily spend your stake of $75 to $500, but you won’t have to mortgage your house or sell your car to play in and enjoy a game. And while there are plenty of micro-stakes games at online casinos, it’s not difficult to find poker games with stakes of $1,000 or more per game. Another thing is the anonymity of the players. In Live poker, your opponents sit across from you, and while some poker players try to disguise their appearance, ultimately the disguise goes only so far, and it’s s a relatively easy thing to spot the sharks. In fact, many players will simply hang back a few feet away and watch the players determine how the level of play for the players. With an online game, you can’t really ascertain how good the players are. You never know, one or two players at even a low-stakes game may be pros or highly gifted amateurs who act like sharks. Sharks don’t always feed on big fish.

Sometimes they just pick on the small fish because they are easy to feed off of. And that’s one element of online poker you have to be really cognizant about, which is determining if those at your table are real amateurs or seasoned pros. Another major difference between playing live and playing online has to do with bluffing. In a live game, players look for common tells to read other players. Nervousness, frequent glancing around at the other players, over talkiness, sweating, body posture, raised eyebrows, twitchy fingers, big gulps and swallows, looking at their cards again and again as if they can’t believe what they have are all examples of poker tells. Yes, there are poker tells in online poker too, but they generally are player behavioural clues such as how quickly or how slowly players bet, or how quickly they bet. With live poker, all of those are in play, and more. Live poker is a very active game. Another big difference is in the pace of the game. It’s not uncommon for online players to bet in multiple poker games at once. With live poker, you are limited to playing one game, and the pace of the game is much, much slower. Another key is that the players may be constantly trying to improve their skills in online poker games. And as poker is a game of mathematics as much as luck, online players may have a second window open up on their computer with a poker trainer or simulator to calculate and teach them the odds.

With live poker, many players play as much for the social aspect of being with the guys, and really don’t care to spend a lot of time getting better. Plus, there are no computers, trainers or calculators at an online poker game. Online poker offers more variety. At an online casino, you are likely to find not only Texas Hold’em and Omaha Poker, but many more varieties. In addition, Online poker has multiple mini-stakes poker games, so you can lose less money than in playing live poker. Another advantage of playing online poker is the intimidation factor. It’s relatively easy to begin to play low-stakes poker online, and not have the “stink” of a beginner. It’s much more intimidating to walk into a physical casino, lay down a buy-in bet of say $100 and obviously act like you don’t know what you are doing because you don’t.

The learning curve is much gentler with online poker. Another reason for playing online is that it is much more convenient. You can even use your cell phone and play a game or two during your lunch hour. With a physical casino you have to drive to the casino, sometimes wait to play at a table, and perhaps adhere to a dress code as well. Finally, another big difference is the money thing. At a physical casino, when you win, you simply cash your chips in and walk away, perhaps buying yourself a lunch or dinner or a great bottle of wine with your winnings. When you gamble at an online casino, you usually have to wait a couple of days for a payoff to be credited to your account, and often have to pay fees as well to get the money into your actual account.

Which is best for you, online poker or physical poker?

There are many differences, and ultimately, it’s up to you what your goals are in poker. If you want a social experience, then live poker is best, and there’s also a possibility you can later win big money in a tournament. However, if you want to curl up in your PJ’s with a beer and pizza and try your luck, then obviously online poker is best for you.

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