Online poker has exploded over the past couple of decades. Although real money poker is a big part of it, even more players play in the so-called “play money” poker games every day.
Whether we are talking poker apps on social networks like Facebook or play money tables on PokerStars and other real poker sites, play money games are the kind of games where no real money is at stake.
If you’re a beginner and just learning Texas Hold’em rules, it may seem appealing to start out by playing at the play money tables. However, the truth is that there is very little you can take away from these games that will help you in becoming a real poker player.
I have compiled a list of the top 5 reasons you should avoid play money poker games if at all possible. These are the things that I extrapolated from my own experience with the game in general and play money poker in particular.
There Is Nothing to Win
One of the first reasons that come to mind when considering if you should take part in the play money games is the fact that there is nothing to win at these tables.
Play money poker is played just for fun, and I have to be honest with you, poker is not fun if there is nothing at stake. Players can make any play at any time with no repercussions.
Poker can only be fun when people have to make actual decisions that will impact some sort of financial gain or loss, even if it is not too significant to the person. Otherwise, players go wild and spew their poker chips away the moment there is something other to do.
Since there is absolutely nothing at stake, even you may decide that you have had enough and simply put your chips into the pot for no good reason. This is no way to play poker and is perhaps the main reason why play money tables are best left to complete amateurs.
The Apps Might Not Be Fair
If you are playing on one of the big poker sites, you can be sure that they are using the same algorithms and RNGs for the play money and real money tables.
However, this is not the case with random online poker apps you can download from the internet or find on social networks.
The RNG of a random social poker game may not be 100% random. In fact, such sites have every reason to keep their games imbalanced to entice players to come back and play again.
After all, since this is not real money poker, these apps are under no legal obligation to provide random and fair games. If there is some chance that the cards are scripted, you should definitely not be playing on such an app.
Time Is Money
Playing poker as a hobby is fine, but you should still be looking to win because that is the nature of the beast. Whether you play on a major international platform or a Mongol poker site, the game only makes sense when there is something of value on the line.
Even if you can only afford to play the extra low-stakes tables, so-called micros, this is still a much better idea than grinding the play money tables.
In the smallest of real money online games, you can still probably make a few dollars an hour by multi-tabling. This is much better than nothing, and it gives you a chance to move to the higher stakes in time and possibly make something out of it.
No matter how successful you are at play money tables, you will never get a single cent in cash for it. This kind of makes it a waste of both time and skills, if you have any.
Play Money Poker Is Boring
Not only is play money poker not profitable at all, but it is also extremely boring. Many times, you will see players using their entire time-bank simply because they are not paying attention or they are no longer at their device.
Once they do decide to act, they will make random plays such as limping with complete junk or moving all-in with random pocket pairs, with no real method to their madness.
Play money games move slowly, and they tend to draw the absolute worst players in the world.
All of this makes the games impossible for competent players to look at for longer than a few minutes.
Once again, your best solution is to make a very small deposit and play the micro stakes at real poker sites. The games will be a lot more serious, run faster, and give you an actual challenge to try and build your bankroll and move up in the world.
You Won’t Learn Useful Skills
Another major problem with play money poker games is that the skillset you will learn at these tables does not translate to real money games at all.
When I say at all, I mean just that! There is absolutely nothing to learn at the play money tables, as the vast majority of all decisions that players make are completely random. These are usually not based on any kind of actual poker odds or reads.
In play money games, you will see players moving all in for hundreds of big blinds. By the same token, others will call them off with trash hands and put the money in the middle whenever possible.
The moment you move over to real money tables, even at the lowest of stakes, plays like this will become extremely sporadic, if not non-existent.
You could be playing play money poker for months, and you will probably not see much that makes sense or learn any kind of a poker skill that you could use in real money games.
For that reason, I recommend taking some beginner poker training courses, learning how to play on a fundamental level, and playing the micros on major poker sites. This will help you get your bearings and introduce you to the world of real poker as it should be played.