I've been practicing playing online (Yahoo) with game money but the betting is very unrealistic. Is there any online or offline software that I can use to practice? I don't have the time nor the money to go to a casino, so that's out.


The differences between online play money and online microstakes cash games are huge. IMO, the microstakes cash NLHE games are similar in nature to a typical $1-$2 NL game in a live poker room. There are some awful players and some that are clearly better than the others, ranging from nitty to loose-aggressive. Deposit a small amount of cash in an online site that serves your geographical area and play in some 1-2 cent or 2-5 cent games. It will help you improve your game much more than the play money route will, and it won't break the bank.

  • Cash play money vs real money is not only huge, is as said, unrealistic. But this depends on limits; Say, a 5/10 play money on pokerstars is a donkfest but i've experienced better play on say 200/400. Not overwhelming difference, just fewer donks that bought 1M play chips and more people that gained their bankroll through play.
    – user1165
    Sep 30 '15 at 16:23
  • How legal are microstakes in the US? Is that considered online gambling?
    – ventsyv
    Oct 1 '15 at 1:17

While the differences between fun money and real money online are significant, it does not mean that fun money is not a good place to start. If you cannot learn the skills required to beat the very wild fun money games, you should not move up to real money unless your goal is the life of a degenerate gambler. Your not going to see anything in a fun money game that you are not eventually going to see in a cash game or tournament. You will never achieve optimal play in a cash game if you do not develop a inherent understanding of the very strange and unexpected things that will happen in a fun money game.

The cash games that resemble a fun money game, fast action, people playing with money that seems to have no value to them, are the most profitable games you can master. My casual observation is that most otherwise fine players play these kind of games badly. A little more time and understanding of these kinds of games would greatly increase their bottom lines.

I would urge you not to be so anxious to get away from fun money until you have a significant win rate playing there. Spend a few hundred hours and even after you have graduated to cash games, come back and brush up occasionally.

  • Patience is certainly a skill that can be developed through play money ;)
    – user1165
    Oct 1 '15 at 5:25

Why real money is not same as play money?

If the play money players were so good, then why would they waste their time not making real money.

How to learn faster?

Based on my personal experience, I'd say the fastest way to improve is through watching poker videos on youtube, video tutorials, reading poker books, etc.

I used to play on Zynga poker like crazy. I had 30+ accounts on it. I irregularly played for few thousand hours and I always used to think that I'm so good at this game. But I never learned some basic concepts like pot odds, outs, playing with position, preflop opening hands, etc. unless I started playing for real money and realized "Now I know, I knew nothing".


Poker is not a card game; it is more of a wagering game with cards as props. You will never improve playing with play money and I would say that you will actually become a bad player going down that route. The only way to improve is to start playing online with real money and start learning. Read david sklansky's theory of poker to get some deeper insight into poker.

  • 2
    I disagree with that you can only become a bad player playing play money. True if you play play money with an reckless attuitude because it isn't real money you will never improve and will become a bad player. However I would say play money is the perfect starting place if you take it serious and want to seriously understand how the basics work. You should be able to consisitantly crush play money if you are a decent player.
    – Grinch91
    Oct 3 '15 at 9:54
  • I've experienced extremely good play money game on very high limits. You may even find Barry Greenstein playing tournaments for billions. High limits play money is serious.
    – user1165
    Oct 3 '15 at 20:02
  • Another "me too" comment here. If you can't beat play money games, you're not likely to ever be a consistent real money winner. Oct 3 '15 at 22:08
  • ok - I'm willing to keep an open mind. What sites enable you to play with play money where people aren't shoving a high percentage of times ? Oct 5 '15 at 9:52

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