I have gotten good enough at "fake poker" that I would like to try my hand at putting real money down on a game at a Casino (in Pittsburgh). I play Online Poker using chips that have no value.

So with that being said: Would someone adept at Online Poker be just as good at Casino Poker?

BONUS QUESTIONS: Will the skill levels of players be different? Will I end up with a losing strategy due to "the rake"(Casino getting paid)? Will my strategy have to change?

  • 1
    If you're good at online cash game then you'll be better at a live table, even if the blinds are typically higher but as low as 1/2$. Online play is typically harder and more aggressive, casino play is more passive but in my opinion easier. As far as i know, 1/2$ low-stakes online is far harder that 1/2$ live casino play.
    – user1165
    Jan 12, 2015 at 23:33
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    IMO $1/$2 live cash games (in my experience, YMMV) are similar in difficulty to a 10cent/25cent online game. One of the things that make online tougher to beat is that it's likely that you're playing against players who are taking advantage of real-time stats to inform their decisions. Live cash players don't have that benefit, and some live cash players have been drinking. So that helps. :) Jan 13, 2015 at 1:03
  • @Chris Farmer, indeed ;) Also, in live play you have a great feeling of player tells, that will certainly help and make the decisions easier. Online you only have an annoying avatar of his. Although one can have HUD stats and numerous notes for every player to ease his decision, the same applies for him as well. On live play the vast majority of players are unknowns. No stats, no notes, occasional drinking and staring contests ;)
    – user1165
    Jan 13, 2015 at 22:11

2 Answers 2


IMO, "free" poker is not a close match to cash poker, even at the lowest cash levels. Free poker is great at helping players learn the mechanics of the game and basic gameplay, but it totally misses the behavioral aspects. People act differently when there's money on the line. If possible, try to find an online site that is available in your area and play at the microstakes level such as at the 1/2 cent blind levels. The microstakes levels are surprisingly different from free poker and more accurately mimic what you'd find in a $1/$2 live poker room table, and it's cheaper and easier to find out.

I'm guessing that if you can reliably beat free poker in the face of all the craziness that happens there, you wouldn't be at all outclassed at a $1/$2 live game. The players will be a mix of skills and styles, but few if any of them will be good players. In the (paraphrased) words of Ed Miller: "How do I know that none of the players in your local 1/2 game are any good? Because they're playing 1/2." So don't be scared of them. Play within your bankroll limits, and you'll be ok.

And yes, the rake will kill you. I don't know about the rake at your local casino, but $5 from each pot is not atypical, so that's a lot of money being sucked off the table each orbit. It's going to be hard for most anyone to reliably make money against that kind of rake over the long term. I love 1/2 in part because I feel like I have some edge over most opponents, and in part because it's just fun to sit and chat and compete and learn, and the fun is worth a few bucks in rake.

Go to the poker room, sit down, have some fun, observe others, and try to learn and execute your strategies. What's the worst that could happen?

Another good way to get your first card room experience is to find a local daily or weekly tournament where you can know up front that the buy-in is the amount of money you can lose.


The short answer to your question is not really, you still have a great number of trials to go through before you can expect to be a better then average poker player.

Having said that you have a good start. Fast loose cash games that are akin to play money games require a certain style and knowledge to beat. Fast loose cash games are by far the most potentially profitable games to beat. A lot of otherwise excellent poker players just can't play a fast loose game. So if you are beating play money games, for a fair hourly rate relative to the blinds and the swings you are taking, then you have one of the first good tools you will need to succeed.

What you know now is just a particular way to beat a particular game. Poker is a game of almost infinite dynamics. The game you choose to play at any particular time may have different blinds that call for subtle changes in play. The player themselves are the biggest dynamic. How do they play, is there a feeding frenzy going on, how does a particular player react to bad beats or rushes, Etc.

These kind of things take years to learn. Nobody learns them completely, there is no such thing as the perfect poker player. The most important thing to understand is that all poker games are different and that there is no way to play that works even moderately well in all games.

When you get out there in a live cash game you are going to find that the things you already know don't often apply. That's not because the things you learned are invalid it is because they do not apply to certain situations. Be flexible use the things you know, and always be open minded to learning new things.

When you get out in a live game pay attention. Watch your players, watch the action. You are going to be nervous, relax and remember for the most part that the people your playing against are just people. Don't talk much, especially in a hand, the biggest mistake I see newbies make is opening their mouth, they just tell the attentive player everything about their hand when they do. Be clear about what you intend to do, if you want to raise say the amount you intend to raise, if you intend to call say call. Verbalize your action until you become confident handling chips. New players often make a lot of chip handling mistakes, some that can be very expensive.

Your going to loose. We all loose for awhile learning and nobody wins all the time. You are going to find it frustrating and sort of a mind f***. Poker is not a card game but a mind f*** game played with cards. Keep in mind that every time you loose you need to be learning. Dissect your hands and your sessions to figure out what you did wrong. If you paid off a bad beat look at what you did wrong when you paid it off. If you have a loosing session decide what you did wrong. You are the master of your destiny. If you work on yourself you will improve, if you work on others they will not improve so you can win. Always own your game.

  • Your knowledge is appreciated.
    – yaki moto
    Jan 14, 2015 at 15:50

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