How Long Does A Poker Hand Last?
By Bob Garcia
The question of how long a poker hand lasts is a good one, though one that does not have a definitive answer. There are numerous factors that play into the answer, including the game you are playing, the speed of the action, and whether you are playing online or live poker.
In a fast-paced game like online no-limit hold’em, hands can go by very quickly. In fact, it is not uncommon for a player to see hundreds of hands in a single session. As a general rule, players can expect to see about 80-100 hands per hour playing 6-max and about 15-25% fewer hands playing at a full table. Conversely, in a slow game like a live session of stud or draw poker, players might only see a handful of hands per hour. A typical full-ring NLHE live table will get somewhere between 20-30 hands per hour depending on the action, player tendencies, and dealer.
So to answer the original question, the average poker hand can range from about a minute per hand to twice or even three times that number.
Speeding Up The Game
So, how can you speed up the action and get more hands in per hour? One way is to play multiple tables at once. Most online poker sites allow players to do this, and some even have software that makes it easy to keep track of all the action. Many professional players can manage 10 or even 20 tables at once, depending on their limits and experience. Some of the most elite SNG players, can profitably play 50+ tables at a time, as hard as that is for most of us to imagine.
Additionally, when playing live games, players usually have the option of calling a clock if an opponent is taking too long to make their decisions, though that should generally be reserved for extreme situations. Alternatively, you can simply ask your tablemates if they could speed up the action, so long as you are prepared to sometimes get a negative response in return.
Live Vs Online – Which Is Better?
When it comes to online vs live poker, there is no clear winner. Both have their pros and cons. Online poker is great for its convenience and the ability to play multiple tables at once, while live poker has a more social atmosphere and you can gain information from your opponents’ mannerisms and “table talk” in addition to their gameplay actions.
Most importantly, before deciding whether to play poker online or live, you have to be aware of your motivations for playing the game. If it is strictly for the financial aspect, you’ll likely want to focus on maximizing your hourly rate by playing as many tables as you can comfortably handle. However, if the most important factor for you is the enjoyment you get from the game, or the development you can gain from staying hyper-focused on all the happenings at the table, you may want to slow it down and focus on quality rather than quantity.
In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. Some players prefer the fast pace of online poker, while others enjoy the social aspect of live poker. There is no right or wrong answer, so try out both and see which you prefer!