No. That is the short answer but the topic deserves a little more discussion. Online poker has become the diamond suit amongst the deck of the gambling industry and it owes that popularity to the ace foundations set in place by live casino play. But does it deserve to take the throne for good?
The beauty of online poker is that it can be played from the comfort of your own home or now, with the introduction of smart phone apps – it can be played on the move. There is no way Vegas could house a big enough casino to compete with that level of accessibility.
You can join in the fun as an absolute fish (beginner) and if you have the stake, you can pit your wits against some of the best in the business. The majority of poker pros are sponsored by online sites and are obliged to play in public tournaments. Practicing by playing with the masters of the game, your learning curve is steep – which is another major draw online poker has over the intimidating atmospheres of live tables. Players can hide behind their onscreen avatars and suppress their own nerviness.
However, this is the same vulnerable battleground where live play can prevail. The excitement you feel on a live table when consecutively taking down the poker hands of a veteran, is unrivalled. The same goes for the nerves you feel when heads up for your entire stack – it is difficult for some online sites to emulate this atmosphere.
Still, there are some quality online poker sites out there which strive to create realistic atmospheres and they do so through 3D graphics and chat room features. The horizon holds even more realism as major sites plan to introduce voice chatting and some are even testing webcam interaction.
These ideas could be open to abuse from childish players but for those taking it seriously, the online game looks to be improving year on year. Which brings us back round to the original question, will it eventually be good enough to wipe out the appeal of live play?
The thing is, live poker is more than just a game of cards, it is an event. Whether it is one night out at the local club, a major event at the MGM Grand or a humble home game with your friends – you come away with more memories than your bad beats and big wins.
In terms of volume, online play likely already surpasses the numbers coming through casino doors worldwide but the experiences are difficult to compare. Even the pros consider the two games to be entirely different and change their play styles between them accordingly. Try your hand at free online poker and book your seat at the casino this weekend – your preference depends on what you choose to play the game for.