If you've wanted to play poker for free but are afraid of being roped into a hefty commitment or high-pressure situation, breathe a sigh of relief: You have options. In fact, you have a lot of options that extend beyond calling your poker playing pals for a quick (and perhaps questionable) tutorial.
Play poker for free at online casinos. All online casinos give you the option to play poker for free (or any game for that matter). You will have to sign up for an account, but this does not bind you to any financial commitment and it only takes a few minutes.
Our top picks for online venues include PokerStars.com and PartyPoker.com. In addition to allowing you to play money games, they regularly host 'freeroll tournaments' where players can win real money even though the buy-in is zero dollars. (You will have to activate your account for real money play to get in on this action, but you don’t actually have to deposit a dime.)
Freerolls are a great way for players who don't have the means to deposit to build up a bankroll. In fact, thanks to freerolls some of the most successful players in the tournament world have built massive bankrolls without ever making a real money deposit.
Play poker for free using apps. Our favorites are Zynga Poker and Pokerstars Mobile. The large player pools in these apps mean bigger and more exciting tournaments than what you’ll find on many of the smaller games sites. Equally importantly, you’re pretty much guaranteed more focused and educational play - and we cannot undercut the importance of experience and education when it comes to learning to play poker. In fact, in addition to not having to spend money, learning the ropes is one of the main reasons people want to play poker for free.
It’s daunting and almost downright insane for beginners to throw themselves into big buy-in, high-stake events. Finding reputable places to play poker for free can help ambitious newbies get comfortable in the game and learn the ropes.
The catch: ‘Finding reputable places to play poker for free’ is the operative clause here. If you start playing at general gaming sites, you’ll probably learn that free play can actually come at a cost. We’re not suggesting you’ll actually have to pay, we are simply pointing out that gaming gratis has its own costs that have nothing to do with actual dollars but a lot to do with sense.
General gaming sites that offer a smorgasbord of games ranging from poker to Go-Fish to Mine Sweep aren’t usually going to attract the most studious opponents on the planet. In fact, you may not get serious opponents at all, in which case, you won’t learn a thing. (Depending on how much you know going in, you may actually unlearn a few things.)
Put it this way: people who want a quality product enlist the services of specialized professionals. You should do the same. Just because you want to play poker for free doesn’t mean you have to lower your standards; it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your ideals or goals. Just keep our advice in mind and you can learn how to play winning poker and even win money without making a single deposit.