online vs live

being new to all things poker, here is question...

how well do the skills and knowledge you aquire from playing poker online, transition to playing live face to face opponents? my thinking is that what causes poker more than a game of chance (ie you never know whta cards are comming next) is your ability to read and bluff your opponents. is this easy or even possible when playing online?

or, maybe i'm misunderstanding the phrase "reading your opponent"...meaning it's not so much about physical reactions as it is about their playing style or history.

what are some good sites where i can learn to play for free?

thank you for your time.

I find online play a useful tool to help burn poker math (there's a lot of arithmetic in poker) in my subconsious. And to suplement my bank roll. There's really no substitute for live game experience, but neither format is a game of chance.