1. Poker Jargon
2. Why Play Poker
3. Key Poker Skills
5. Home to Casino
6. Play Money
1. Starting Hands
2. Pot Odds
1. Keep It Simple
2. Think For Yourself
3. Evaluating Plays
5. Beginner Mistakes
Games for "play money" are very popular on the internet. These are poker games where no real money is wagered, and players just play with fake, virtual chips. There are far more play-money players than real-money players on the internet because it is a form of free entertainment. Many people play these games to pass the time or to learn the basics of poker.
Play-money games can be entertaining. However, play-money games are very limited in their ability to help a player improve his skills. Play-money games are generally only useful to accomplish the following purposes:
• To help a player understand the rules of the game
• To help a player get used to online poker software
Play-money games are not helpful for a player to refine his or her poker skills. Learning to excel at play-money games will only help you beat play-money games. The "skills" you learn at play-money games may be helpful at real-money games, but there is also the chance that you will learn bad habits that will actually cause your real-money poker skills to deteriorate.
Play-money players tend to play almost any hand dealt to them. They will hardly ever fold because there is no consequence if they lose a lot of "play money." In this environment, winning is extremely easy. You can see the flop with a lot of hands and hope to hit a solid hand. Since you will definitely be paid off, it pays to play extremely loose preflop in a play-money game, provided you use some sense during your postflop play.
In a real-money game, people are not nearly as idiotic as they are in play-money games. If you go all-in on a board of A K 5, very rarely will someone call you with 3 2 in a real-money game. But in a play-money game, this sort of move would certainly not be out of the ordinary. In short, people in play-money games are more than happy to give their "virtual money" away. In a real-money game, players are not nearly as generous.
This important difference between the two games greatly affects the strategy of the games. Successful play-money strategy incorporates loose preflop play because one can expect a huge payoff if one flops a strong hand. Since people will not simply throw their money at you in real-money games, players need to play tighter preflop and only see the flop with certain hands.
Furthermore, winning at play-money will often give players false confidence. Winning at play-money games is absolutely no guarantee that one will win at real-money games. Often, winning play-money players lose at real-money games. These players frequently fail to realize what mistakes they are making at real-money games because the habits they have learned were successful in play-money games.
While play-money ring games have little in common with real-money ring games, there are certain types of play-money games that are somewhat similar to their real-money counterparts. The best example is large play-money MTTs vs. large freerolls. Freerolls are essentially play-money tournaments, except there is a cash prize for the top winners.
Generally, the smaller the prize, the more similar the freeroll is to a play-money tournament. After all, if first place only receives $50, people will not be as focused as they would be if first place received an entry into the World Series of Poker.
Even in low-buy-in tournaments ($5 or less), people will still try a lot harder than they would in a play-money tournament. The only thing at stake in a play-money sit-and-go is pride, and pride alone is not nearly as important as $10. Bear this in mind when transitioning from play money games to real money games.
Next Article: Starting Hands
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