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I'm trying to use the free tables on PokerStars for a few reasons

  1. To get familiar with position, hand values etc
  2. To get comfortable managing bankroll (It seems easier to make a mistake when there's no money involved)
  3. To get comfortable with making the right move and still having a terrible play beat you. (I've seen the state Phil Helmuth gets in)

So assuming there is value in playing for free before you put the dosh in, what are the benefits, and What should I focus on while free playing?

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This is a little broad, but it's fine. From the looks of it, there actually may be a good and solid answer for this that doesn't blow up in size. –  Radu Murzea May 17 at 18:12
    
I could slim it down if you like, how about "what skills can be learned in free roll poker" –  Alexander Troup May 17 at 18:13
    
My opinion is there's little to no value in learning from free table sites (that is, where people play nothing but free tables, and there's probably nothing to be gained financially). My reason for this is the people that play are not playing the same game as people that play for money. They have nothing to gain and so they have nothing to lose, which gives them no fear at all -- that's just not what you find at for-money games (even though people want you to think that's the case for them). –  mah May 17 at 20:55
    
that's true, It also means that they'll be likely playing against the odds, so playing with the odds allows me to win and get the basics of value down, without real risk when I figure odds wrong. –  Alexander Troup May 19 at 8:52
    
@AlexanderTroup the problem is that to play the odds properly, you either must fold when your opponent has bet too much (in order to avoid paying too much to gain too little vs your odds of winning), or you must frequently bet too much. Yes you can the occasional pot but due to the high number of folds on your path to get there, I don't think you'll consider that to be winning. You really cant improve your game when playing against people that are playing a different game. –  mah May 19 at 10:42

2 Answers 2

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For cash games, when you feel you are by far the best player at the table, you can start playing for real money. Repeat this step on real money tables as well.

What I think is interesting are the freeroll tournaments. I really learned a lot by doing this. You will learn playing in position, playing with your stacksize, adapting to new blind levels and so on.

When you win some real money, you can play cash games for real money as well.

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If you can learn patience and the ability to fold small hands to postflop raises then you will be far ahead of most microstakes players when you decide to play for real money.

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