The prevalence of online poker tables is staggering, with many people using play money as a way to practice their poker skills. Play money can refer to any type of “fake” money used for betting, whether it’s loyalty points, fake chips, or bonus cash that you obtained for signing up.

If you’re trying to determine whether you want to pursue poker as a hobby or just sharpen your skills before playing with real money, play money is a fantastic option to practice and improve your skills.

Advantages of Using Play Money to Practice

For experienced players, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to play poker with play money, but if you’re just starting, it’s a risk-free way to learn the game. There’s a lot you can learn about online poker games by playing for free.

Familiarity with tournament structures

Joining a live poker game is intimidating if you’re new. Using play money provides an opportunity to learn how online poker games work, tournament set-up, and how to play without worrying about losing your money.

Learn to observe player patterns

Poker is a game that requires strategy. While there’s always some risk involved, the better your strategy is, the more likely you are to win. Part of this strategy involves learning how to recognize the playing patterns of other players. Learning to do this is an important skill that transfers to real money games.

Find your favorite poker variation

With so many options available, it can be tough to find out which variation of poker you like best or the one you’re most likely to win at. You can try out different poker variations, like Texas Hold’em, Seven Card Stud, or Five Card Draw, without any financial risk by using play money.

Boost your math skills

Poker involves a lot of math. Calculating odds and outs comes easily to some people but is a skill developed over time for others. Play money poker tables allow you to learn these necessary skills risk-free, and you can take as much time as you need to learn.

Disadvantages of Using Play Money to Practice

There is one huge disadvantage of using play money poker games to practice your skills, and it’s unavoidable. Play money games are often highly aggressive in comparison to real money ones. The reason for this is that players aren’t using real money.

It’s much easier to place big bets, take chances, bluff, and otherwise risk it all when there’s nothing on the line. What better way to go “all in” on a pair of threes? You have absolutely nothing to lose. The problem is, neither does anyone else.

If you’re using play money to improve your poker game, you can still improve your skills. Just keep in mind that both you and your opponents are likely to play more conservatively when you have something on the line.

Final Thoughts

If you’re new to the game of poker, using play money to practice your skills is an excellent option to build skills and learn strategy before placing real money bets. Although play money games don’t perfectly represent real money games, they are still a great way to practice.