Perhaps the first thing that anyone needs to know about the game of poker – whichever variant you play – is that the game should always be played for fun. However, it’s undeniable that the Olympian spirit does not really apply to the game of poker, for the fun does not come from simply taking part, it comes from winning!
While few new players need to be told the obvious truth that winning hands is the aim of the game, it is still perhaps wise – before we look at the educational role of free poker – to briefly look at an aspect of the poker world that you would do well to ignore as a newbie. Put short, don’t pay too much attention to stories about the fabulous success of pro poker players in high stakes games. Poker is a career for just a tiny fraction of the worldwide poker playing population, and most people cannot make a living from the game – and would be unwise to attempt to do so. Keep it realistic and you will keep it fun.
In practice, this can mean forgetting most of the pre-conceived – and inaccurate – notions about ‘good’ poker that you might pick up from films and TV shows. One of the most obvious examples – frequently portrayed in drama – is the idea that bluffing is one of the most effective strategies, an approach that awards those bold enough to try (if they can keep a good poker face). The fact is that fast and loose play, and going all in on a big bluff may make for compelling on screen drama, but this tactic is not representative of the majority of effective plays that make a successful poker player, well, successful. Learning things like advanced strategy – such as the probability of winning a given hand, and pot odds – are much more like the kind of skills that the pros need and use to be consistently successful.
Playing Free Poker
When you are starting out, free poker can allow you to put the rules of the game into a real life context, or in other words theory into practice. There are two types of free poker available online, called free play and freeroll games. Free play is practice play, where just like the rest of online poker your stake is virtual. With nothing to lose you are free to test your knowledge of the rules and hierarchy of hands, safe in the knowledge that mistakes are not going to cost you. Free practice play is not just valuable when you are at the very beginning of your poker playing life, it can be a place to go each time you try out a new strategic approach to the game. To learn more about poker strategy, look here, find a poker training site, or pick up a book about poker.
In freeroll poker you enter a real tournament, with real prizes, but just like practice play you stake nothing. However, since you are playing for a real prize – and therefore there is something to lose – you will probably notice a difference in the way that the other players at your table approach the game, when compared to free play.