Most major online poker rooms have play money tables where you can play without having to stake any of your own cash. On joining any room, there's no obligation to play real money online poker. Many people are content with the free games. The only drawback is that there are limits to your development. Players who play these free games usually don't play the way they would if they were playing games for real cash. They take more risks than they would had they been playing with their own money. As such, it's not the best environment to develop past picking up the real basics.
Additionally, the adrenaline rush when you take down a big pot, pull of a massive bluff or bust an opponent is in a different league from the play money environment. There are limits from micro limits all the way to high stakes so if you're just starting out you can start at the lower stakes. Even at these levels the game is far more exciting when there's something a little more tangible at the end of the line.
Here you will find the most popular poker sites where you can play online poker for cash. To get started, join the site of your choice, create an account and enjoy our wallet crunching cash bonus offers..
$7,500 worth of freerolls for all new depositing players!
£20 Instantly - No Deposit Req'd!! (T&Cs apply) + $9K tournies
$400 welcome bonus for all new depositing players !
Massive $2,000 welcome bonus for all new players!
One of the top iPoker network sites with a ton of soft games.
$10,000 in free tournament entries for all NEW depositors!
$1,000 new player welcome bonus for all our players!
£5 FREE for all UK and Ireland depositing players!
$50,000 Jackpot Sit'N'Go's available for 6 consecutive wins!!
Whatever you deposit up to £1,200 - William Hill will double!!
4 entries into a weekly $1,000 new player freeroll.
Access to the dedicated New Player Zone for three months!
200% up to $500 Match deposit bonus + $10 FREE (No Deposit)!
Free entry to monthly new player freeroll - ALL NEW PLAYERS!!
Play televised tables and see yourself on Sky TV!
Some players find the transition easier than others. It's not a straight forward switch and many people are skeptical or worried about depositing into a poker room - read this guide on the security of online poker rooms. It might be that you've had some success in the free poker environment. You will also very likely have picked up the basics that you will need to be successful when the stakes are a little more thought provoking. The fact that free money players don't care if they lose (as they can simply reload their play money chips), is a problem. There's a limit to how good you're going to get playing these players.
When there's cash involved, the play is less sporadic and unpredictable which means it's considerably more exploitable. Players tend not to make ridiculous plays too often when there's money at stake. Not only is real cash play better for development, it's more interesting, involves more interesting strategy and offers far greater rewards when you master the game. Keep in mind that it doesn't have to cost the earth to play. Micro limits mean you can be playing 1c/2c games with a bankroll of a few dollars. Good luck at the tables.