Learn How To Play Successful Online Poker
The old adage 'nothing is really free' doesn't hold for free poker. There are ways to play free poker games that definitely cost you nothing. Of course, the intention of the providers is to get you interested enough to make cash deposits, but that's your choice if you want to. Here we'll cover the main ways to play free poker. It costs you nothing to take advantage of any of them.

There are four clear ways to get the chance to play free poker - either through playing at practice 'play for fun' tables with any of the poker rooms, by playing in freeroll poker tournaments, by taking advantage of no deposit poker bonuses, or by playing free browser based games provided by independent developers (there's a great example of this in the resources box on the left with the 'Governor Of Poker' game provided by InternetPokerDownloads.com).

Technically there's a fifth option which does give you free poker - and that's through the standard deposit bonuses - though of course you'll need to make a deposit to get that 'free' cash added to your account. It's possible to use poker bonuses to play for a long time without touching your actual deposit amount, and even ( if you're very careful, fairly highly skilled, and know exactly what you're doing) to play right through the bonus cashout requirements. Similarly, freeroll entries are normally given to new poker players as signup incentives, though quite often you'll have needed to make a deposit to collect your freeroll entries. Occasionally you'll find a promotion offering freeroll entry without the need for a starting deposit.  

Playing free is a great way to start off if you're a poker beginner and operate in exactly the same way as money games. They give you the opportunity to learn poker strategy and gain valuable experience of rules, hands, betting, and how the game flows.  This is where the free poker games offered by many poker rooms are most valuable - and the options for where to play are endless, you'll never have difficulty finding a table.

Playing free poker can give valuable competitive experience, and are best used as a learning experience where you do not need to risk losing money while practicing. It's worth noting that some of the experience you'll gain will be false - when there's no real cash at stake players can sometimes make decisions and bets that they wouldn't normally make in a cash game. These free games allow you to play for up to 24 hours a day at no cost - giving you a way to take an intensive course in online poker for free.

There are many successful poker players who will have started by playing free poker, and then reached expert level in a short period of time by carefully studying poker strategy concepts, and then applying them to the free games. The best way to improve your poker skills is to play free poker at the most popular and widely acclaimed sites - Pacific Poker and Party Poker are good examples. Many poker room websites have sections on strategy written by professional players, which you can read up on and put into practice on the free tables.

Here we'll cover the background to the free play poker options that are widely available.


Free 'Play For Fun' Poker Games

Totally free practice and 'play for fun' games are available on all the popular poker sites. Getting set up to play is straightforward - just choose the poker room you want to play at, complete the registration and if necessary download the software. You don't need to make a deposit unless you want to, once you're registered you'll receive an option to play for fun or free each time you log in. You'll receive a certain number of chips which you can build up again at any point.

Remember always that play in free games can be misleading. Both you and your opponents are naturally likely to make wild playing decisions simply because you have nothing to lose. Discipline is key here, and ideally you should attempt to play each hand as if there were real cash bets riding on it - although you can't rely on your fellow players to do the same, at least you'll be learning  (up to a point) how to apply poker strategy theories correctly, while gaining good experience of all the other aspects of the game.

No Deposit Bonus Free Play

You can also take advantage of free money in the form of deposit bonuses, where extra cash is added to your account either the equal of the deposit amount or as a generous perecentage of it. This can be seen as free money to increase your playing time, but does come with rules attached which prevent withdrawals before you've played the required number of hands or cash values. The small print will always explain the rules surrounding withdrawals.

Freeroll Tournaments

Playing in freeroll tournaments can be great fun, with the chance to win big prizes for no outlay. Just the same as in free practice ring games, freeroll tournaments can see some wild play and are not a particularly good way to get good tournament experience.

Remember there is no pressure on you to start playing live cash games and you can play free poker for as long as you like. However, if you get to the point that you feel confident enough to risk some money in a live game, then you can easily make a deposit and start playing for the stakes you feel comfortable with - you don’t have to play for high stakes since there are games for every type of stake limit.

To summarise, playing free poker is an effective way to develop your skills if you're at the beginner stage, as long as you remember the limitations caused because there's no cash risk involved.
Additional Resources - Free Poker

The FreePoker.org website has a great introduction article covering free poker.

InternetPokerDownloads.com offers comprehensive coverage of poker downloads, with an innovative bonus free poker game which you can play in your browser. The game sees you starting off as a poker beginner in the old west of Texas. Play poker games against local town residents and buy homes and buildings in the town. You get to be the number 1 player in the town once you own all the buildings. After challenging the previous top player  to win a horse, you can then travel to other towns and win more poker games and buildings. You become the 'Governor Of Poker' once you've conquered all of your opponents throughout all the Texas towns.

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