Many poker sites, especially when advertised on television, make a point of offering “free” poker games’ What does this mean? Can you play real money without having to put up any of your own? Is there no real money involved? There are some websites that are nature, but that is not what they mean when they say their site is free’
What they mean is that there is no charge for downloading their software or subscription fee that you have to pay to play on their site’ With the competition for online players as heated as it has become, there is no reason to pay for online play, and I know of a reputable online poker site that charges in this way
So how do these sites make any money? They make money by charging something called a “rake’” It’s a percentage of each pot that the dealer takes out for the house as a fee for providing the game’ This is usually around 10 percent of the size of a pot, and usually capped at $ 4′ Live casinos also make their money from poker games in this way’ Some live casinos charge “time” instead, which is a set amount that is a representative of the casino collects each half hour, but the rake method is far more common’
In a tournament, where all the chips have to be played and can be taken, casinos add entry fees for the buy-in for the tournament, so for example a single table tournament might charge $ 100 + $ 9, with $ 100 from each player going into the prize pool to be redistributed to the winners, and $ 9 from each player going to the house’
How can you play a truly “free” poker game, with all the money being returned to the players? Play in a home game’ It is illegal for most organizers of a poker home game to profit from said games’ Besides, who is probably playing with friends who would rather win you money fair and square anyway’
What about playing for “free” as in no money changes hands at all? The most online sites offer “play money” tables where you can not use any site at risk’ The play money tables are clearly distinguished from the real money ones on your games menu’ These tables are a good opportunity for you to familiarize yourself with the software’ However, you are likely to be able to measure your poker ability through these games’ With no real money on the line, many players treat these play games as a game of bingo, and just keep putting the chips into the pot and hoping for the best’
As far as playing for real money without putting up any of your own? Well, you can do that too’ Many sites offer a “free roll” that is either a small amount of money or an entry into a bigger tournament as their prize’ You can get free rolls in a variety of ways’ Sometimes just being a new player on a site earns you the opportunity to play a free player, you can get “player points”, you can get tournament entries that are worth real money, still others are just a first come, first -served affair, with the number of entrants capped at a predetermined amount’ Keep in mind the tournaments are free, you will often find yourself competing with a very large prize prize pool’ But hey, it’s still free, right?