You Don’t Have To Play For Real Money—Ever
A curious phenomenon has developed as the game of poker has made its way into real-money online play. In an effort to attract and orient new players, all of the major online poker rooms offer funny-money options in which you can play the games for free—immediately, indefinitely, and with no obligation to pay later. You won’t find this offered in the Vegas casinos.
It works like this: When you establish an account—name and password only, no credit card information required—you receive a nominal amount of free play chips. You then wager with these exactly as if they were real cash chips. You keep all your winnings from one session to another. This is critical, because it gives these play chips value. They become commodities, even if their relative value is good only for bragging rights. (Some poker rooms grant actual value to your play chips by letting you use them to enter tournaments with real cash prizes.)
You will find, therefore, that even at the play tables, there is an elevated level of play because the wagers and the chips have at least a minimal value to most players. (Some players, of course, don’t care and play like idiots regardless). The point of this is that you can play quality online poker for free. You don’t have to play for real money—ever. Play-money tournaments are especially valuable. The careless players are usually eliminated early, and in the later rounds, free tourneys can be every bit as tough as low-stake cash tourneys.
These free games have become wildly popular, and at any given time, at any given poker room, there are likely to be more people playing for free than are playing for cash. So keep this in mind; by taking advantage of the commercial cardrooms’ free-play options, you can play good poker online without spending a dime.
(© 2005 Deal Me In! Online Cardrooms, Big Time Tournaments, and The New Poker Book. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed)