Poker, whether played live or online, is primarily played for money. There are really no two ways about it and almost every professional out there will admit to it. If there were no money in poker, many of the most passionate game aficionados would move on or would continue to play a bit here and there but would most definitely not spend hours upon hours rattling chips or clicking away on their mouse.
Even so, there is a case for trying play money poker games. Although you’ll never get rich this way (you’ll also never lose a dime!), play money poker can be quite entertaining as a hobby. On top of that, it can be an effective learning tool for complete newcomers, give you sense for what the game is all about, etc. So, without further ado, here are five reasons people ought to try play money poker games.
1. Play money poker is a great starting point
I’m not a big fan of play money games – never have been and never will be. Yet, we can’t deny the fact that this can be a great setting for those just finding out about poker and taking their first steps towards understanding the game. From a purely strategic viewpoint, it can be dangerous to learn from play money games as you’ll see many illogical, irrational moves, which definitely won’t help you get better at the game.
However, you can still apply fundamental strategy concepts to these games and see firsthand how they work without risking any actual cash. For example, whether you’re playing for plastic chips, virtual currency, or real money, a healthy starting hand selection remains pivotal to long-term success. So, you can train yourself in the fine art of patience and playing with only good starting hands, and if you can bring yourself to do it in play money games, you’ll definitely have no problem doing things right on real money tables.
2. There is still a sense of achievement
Although winning money may be the primary motivation for playing poker, it is definitely not the only one. Some people do enjoy game simply for its competitive aspect and find great satisfaction in beating others for heaps of play money chips or finishing first in a tournament with several thousand other players, even if they don’t become any richer for it. In fact, there are many people who enjoy playing slots games for play money, where there is no skill involved at all, so it only makes sense that they’d enjoy play money poker just the same, if not more.
Finishing 1-2 in the biggest buy-in play money tournament ever – 1B play chips: @barrygreenstein (13.95B) and @CMONEYMAKER (9.3B)
— Kevin Mathers (@Kevmath) March 30, 2015
3. Play money games can help you adjust to new software
Even if you’re an experienced player, it takes a bit of time to adjust to new online poker software. If you’re transitioning to a network you’d never played on before, you’re likely to face a client that you aren’t familiar with. Jumping straight in on real money tables could cost you some money due to mis-clicks, timeouts, etc.
So, spending a bit of time on play money tables instead can be a good idea. It will give you a sense of where different buttons and sliders are located, how they behave, and if there is anything you should be careful about. You can test the slider and button sensitivity, check if the mouse wheel can be used to adjust raise sizes, etc.
4. Occasional play money poker session can be a blast
Even if you are used to playing for real money, taking a seat in a play money poker game here and there can be a lot of fun. An experienced player can afford to go crazy in these games and have a blast without worrying it will influence his or her strategy on real money tables. So, if you feel like just having some good fun without having to strain your brain too much, a play money session might be a good idea.
Drinking beer from a can and playing play-money poker online. The new Friday night turn up.
— Donnie Peters (@Donnie_Peters) September 3, 2016
In fact, whether you play on a pure play-money site like Zynga or a real money site with a big play money pool, like PokerStars, you’ll find that games aren’t that easy on the highest stakes. Even though there is plenty of splashing at low stakes, as you move up, games become progressively tougher to play.
5. Play money tables are excellent for remote home games
Finally, if you want to set up a friendly home game but it is hard to get all your buddies together at the same live location, play money tables online can be a great alternative. Many of the sites offering play money games will let you set up a private tournament or an invitation-only cash table, so you can make sure there are no strangers crashing the party.
As long as it is a group of people that know each other very well, you can even agree on a buy-in and settle things in person at some point down the line. So, you’ll get all the convenience of a private home game with no one having to leave their home and no one having to play the host, taking care of snacks and beers. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from preparing a few cold ones before you start to really create a proper home game feeling!