You may never win at poker, but there is one way of playing the game without losing, that is to play for free. Most of the major poker sites have play money tables where beginnings can hone their skills - as if skill counts for anything at this game - or simply play for fun. It is also possible to play for real money without risking a penny. Gambling without risk is not gambling - ask any bankster or fund manager. Technically, for a wager to take place, you must be able to both win and lose.
So how do you get to play for free? Simply sign up with any of the major poker sites, preferably through an affiliate like RakeTheRake or Rakeback.Com, that way you will get paid to play.
When you sign up with a site you will often qualify for a new depositor freeroll. Assuming you deposit, but you neednít deposit that much, and you donít have to play either cash games or tournaments with big buy-ins. Some sites like Party Poker and its sister site WPT Poker offer a series of new depositor freerolls. PokerStars, the worldís biggest site, is currently offering not only new depositor freerolls but a series of regular depositor freerolls. Make one deposit at the beginning of the month, which can be as little as $10, and you can play up to 4 special freerolls a day in addition to the siteís regular freerolls.
Most freerolls on most poker sites are no limit hold íem, which can be a drag, but there are currently limit hold íem freerolls on Party Poker and WPT, and various types on other sites. The biggest variety of freerolls can be found on PokerStars. Play as many of these as you qualify for, but donít expect to make big bucks. And if you enter a rebuy freeroll, donít rebuy! That defeats the purpose.
Finally, if you do put donate a few of your hard earned dollars to a poker site or two, stick to micro-stakes. On PokerStars you can even play nano-stakes. That way you will be paying for your entertainment, which is an altogether different proposition from paying for your education.
The screengrabs below are as far as possible in chronological order. They are all from no limit hold íem tournaments.
August 5, 2012: All-in pre-flop, big slick comes good against a set of queens with a magic river.
September 12, 2012: A lovely river for the pocket 10s.
September 16, 2012: Kings hold up with a house in a four way pot.
September 20, 2012: AJ gets lucky on the river.
September 20, 2012: K5 suited raised all-in pre-flop and short stacked.
September 20, 2012: The short stack flops a set, and it holds up heads up.
September 22, 2012: The 7s folded to a re-raise from the pocket jacks which held up. But look at the turn card!
November 1, 2012: The first of 5 hands played in a Titan Poker freeroll. We started with 20,000 chips.
November 1, 2012: A pre-flop raise with AJ led to my getting paid off with a full house. This was as good as it got.
November 1, 2012: All-in pre-flop, and the guy with pocket 5s canít fold.
November 1, 2012: The bullets hold up, and our hero appears to be making progress. Alas...
November 1, 2012: Pocket jacks house up on the turn, and big slick is suddenly not so big.
[The above was published originally as a blog on November 2, 2012 with the 12 screengrabs here. I say above they are in chronological order as far as possible. They are in fact in chronological order definitely].
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