The game of poker has had something of a bad press over the years; some of it justified, a lot of it certainly not. Negative publicity sticks, and it’s a reason why so many people have a weird perception of what the game is all about. From images of the old days of playing poker in violent, Wild West saloons, to modern, back-street basements, where players play for money in menacing conditions, many think it’s not a game for the faint-hearted.
Even those people who accept poker is a game of skill, one which requires deep thinking and strategy like chess, still see it as a game where the money is the key driver. You play poker solely to win cash, and if you win, who cares that you may have left someone else with empty pockets?
While it is undoubtedly true to say many people play poker purely to win cash, indeed many people are professional poker players, others see it as a challenge, a hobby to be enjoyed.
And for them, money doesn’t even come into it. Poker with play money is a bid deal. A chip is a chip, whether it has a real monetary value or not, and play money players are just as serious about trying to win them as anyone is playing a real cash game or tournament.
While many of the real money online poker sites allow you to use play money, their intention is to get you to make a real money deposit as soon as possible. That’s not the case with play money sites like Replay Poker, the leading free-to-play poker site which won’t cost you a cent.
Because money is not the motivation, there is no greed on the site, players are pleasant to one another and acknowledge good play. They even try to help each other out, passing on strategy advice and the like. Imagine that happening in a poker room in Las Vegas? Playing poker for money can have drawbacks.
Play money gaming is the ideal place for complete newbies to try the game out. There is no reason to be intimidated because no one will judge you for making a bad, rookie mistake. The sharks will not circle you, recognizing you are fresh meat for the table. They will not be looking for you, hunting you down so they can take all your money before someone else does.
Instead, you can register on the site, collect your quote of free playing chips, and head straight to a table to play a ring game, or even enter a tournament. Suddenly, you realize that playing poker doesn’t have to be about making a profit. It’s about learning new skills and strategies and understanding how to play in certain situations against different types of players. It’s actually enjoyable, whereas real money poker is only really fun if you’re winning. And most people are not.
The play money sites make a big deal of their community since it has become a reason for players to visit often.
There may be forums where you can seek help about a particular aspect of your game. Active forums show how healthy a site is, and play money sites have lots of active posters. It’s quite the community, and some even meet up for a friendly game, face to face. Not for real money, of course.
And because education is such a big part of these play money poker sites, you will find many articles explaining the nuances of the game. There will be introductory pieces about the poker hand rankings and how the game actually works. But there might also be an extensive library of strategy articles that even real money players with dreams of playing at the World Series of Poker will find useful.
Topics cover playing in different positions, how to adjust your own game when coming up against particular types of players, how ring game strategy is different from tournament poker, and so on.
The beauty of it all is that you can read up about a new way to play, then take your new knowledge to the tables and try it out. Who cares if you fail, or if it takes a while to become natural? You’re not losing any money in the process, and nobody else is judging you.
All in all, it seems like a fine way to spend some time while learning something new. There’s not a whiff of menacing behavior, and you’ll never experience that awful feeling, deep in your stomach, when you lose your whole real money bankroll on the turn of a card.
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