Playing for free can be a great way to initiate yourself to a new game without risking any money, but it is important to remember that play money is no substitute for the real thing. Yes, playing for free is perhaps the perfect way to become familiar with the rules and common outcomes in any given casino game, but anybody who thinks their success in play money will be instantly transferrable to real money games will quickly find they are mistaken.
To help understand the difference, let’s take a couple of quick examples. Some sites offer play money on roulette. The player may be given an arbitrary stake such as $300 to play with. With nothing to lose, players can bet wildly knowing that a loss won’t cost them and that even if they do lose, they can reload their free chips to continue playing.
One outcome is that the player loses their chips and reloads, or possibly leaves the table. The other outcome is that they win – and often win big. With nothing to lose, there is no risk factor to putting hundreds of dollars on hugely unlikely outcomes which, sooner or later, will come through. Perhaps a player will put $100 on a single number for a return of $3500, leaving them with $3700. The temptation to invest real money and try this on a genuine money table is strong, but players must remember this way simply a stroke of luck. Players who have reloaded their chips may win at the second or third try and quickly forget the $3-600 they have already “lost”, only factoring in the win in their current stack.
Poker is another example. With everybody at the table having no real money at stake, there is nothing to stop them bluffing crazily in an attempt to win a pot they would have nothing to do with were there something valuable at stake. Any half-sensible player can clean up in a play money game of Hold ‘Em and may gain a high level of confidence but, once the players around them are playing for real money, they will find that everybody is a lot more shrewd and patient.