Playing poker online offers unique opportunities to sharpen your skills at no risk, and win real money without having to wager any of your own!
If you want to practice, there are free and micro-stakes games online that have no equivalent in live poker rooms. You can also enter “freeroll” tournaments with absolutely no money down, and if you place at or near the top, you may walk away with a cash prize.
The Player's Guide to Free Poker
This guide will help you to find free games that allow you to practice your skills at no risk. When you're ready, you can also enter some free tournaments that have actual cash prizes. We'll also cover some ways to use casino and poker room bonuses to play cash games using house money!
Where Can I Find Free Poker Games for Practice?
Many of the biggest and most popular online poker rooms and casinos have free practice areas for new players looking to learn the game at no risk. For example, PokerStars has a “play money” mode that you can access without even making a deposit. You'll get to play at tables with other new players who are also learning the game. The World Series of Poker has a free “for fun” version that can be played on an app or Facebook, and is available to players in the United States.
There are also sites that offer free poker which are not affiliated with real money wagering operations. They usually make their money from displaying advertisements, or by referring players to poker products—like instructional books.
For example, at 247FreePoker.com you can play against various AI personalities at no cost, allowing you to practice on your own. Replay Poker lets you play other people for fun, and you can do it through your web browser. Even AOL has a few free poker practice games on its site!
Micro-stakes: Virtually Free Poker
At live casino and poker room tables, the lowest stakes are traditionally one or two dollars per hand. You will need a bankroll of at least a few thousand dollars to play comfortably for an extended period.
Online, you can play real money games for stakes as low as one or two cents per hand, and you'll find many players at that level. A bankroll of $50 is sufficient if you're playing opponents of a similar skill level. These are called “micro-stakes” tables, and they allow you to play for long periods of time with very little actual risk.
“Freeroll” is a term for a type of tournament that costs no money to enter or play in, but has cash prizes or other items of value for the winners.
All major poker sites host regular freeroll tournaments. However, not all of these are actually free. Some require that you pay loyalty points to enter, and those points are only accrued by playing real money hands. However, you can usually play micro-stakes games (as described above) as a means of accruing points with little risk.
Some true freerolls among the major sites include:
- Multiple daily tournaments with no entry fee at PokerStars, BetOnline and America's Cardroom
- A $2017.00 freeroll the first Tuesday of each month in 2017 at Ignition Poker
- A nightly $300 freeroll at FullFlush
- No Deposit Bonuses and Rakeback Offers: Making Your Real Money Poker Play Virtually Free
By taking advantage of poker room and casino bonus offers, you can potentially play for free in real money games.
The first method is to find sites that offer “no deposit” bonuses. These are credits for future play that can be wagered but not withdrawn. Sites may also offer free tickets that waive the entry fee for their online tournaments. In both cases, you get these merely for opening a new account. Some casinos may send you a small amount of credit to entice you to play if you create an account but don't play a real money game for a week or so.
Another option is to focus on becoming a “rakeback pro.” The rake is the amount of money that casinos take from each pot to make their profit, usually 2% to 5% for online games. However, online poker sites are unique in that they frequently offer “rakeback” bonuses to regular players. It means that at the end of the month, they'll give back usually about 25% to 50% of what was raked from the pots you won. A rakeback pro is a player of moderate skill level who grinds out as many daily hands as possible, focusing on breaking even and making a profit off of the rakeback.
Can I Play Video Poker for Free?
Online casinos let you sample their video poker games using play money. Some also offer no deposit bonuses that can be applied to these games or offer matching deposit bonuses that can tilt the odds in your favor—if you play the game with optimal strategy.
Free Poker Abounds Online
There are many options for playing free poker online, from “just for fun” tables to tournaments that have cash prizes. Engaging in very low-risk play at micro-stakes tables can also earn you free entry to tournaments at many poker sites. If you want to play at real money tables for free, look into no deposit bonuses. The choices and opportunities are plentiful and exciting.