Want to play online absolutely free? You came to the right place. We have all the info on how to play without ever depositing a cent. You have three main choices when it comes to playing free, and those are no-deposit required bonuses, freeroll tournaments, and free poker games.
Online poker no-deposit bonus – Free poker money!
This is simply the best way to play free poker games while still being able to earn real money. 888poker is the clear winner in terms of no-deposit required bonuses, with their $88 free offer which lets you start playing real money games instantly without ever depositing a penny. How does it work? As soon as you create your account and verify your email, your account is credited with $2 in real money that can be used at cash game tables and $6 worth of tournament tickets to be used in $1 buy-in tournaments. Each time you earn 250 Status Points, you unlock a further $2 in real money and $6 in tournament credits. Hurry up, because you have only 2 weeks to claim the entirety of the $88 bonus. As well, you have to use the tournament tickets and cash within 7 days of them being credited to your account. It’s difficult to claim the full amount, because of the fact that each $1 of contributed rake earns you 2 Status Point. You can check out the complete terms and conditions of this offer on their official websites, and each $1 in tournament fees earns you 2 Status Points. Still, although it may be difficult to earn the entire bonus, 888poker has the best no-deposit required bonus which allows you to start playing right away without ever having to deposit. That’s free poker money to get you started.
There are other sites that offer no-deposit required bonuses. One of these sites is BetVictor. While BetVictor is more known for sports betting than anything else, they do offer poker games as well. BetVictor is open to players from the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Canada, Sweden, Norway and Finland. Most sites want you to deposit first before claiming any bonuses, but that would be a mistake with this site. If you make any deposit before claiming your bonus, you are no longer eligible!
So, how does it work? You can read all the fine print for yourself on their official website, but for ease of reading we will break it down for you. Remember, in the case of any discrepancies between our site and the casino site, theirs is obviously the official version.
Basically, the bonus is credited within 24 hours once a player has submitted their identification to prove that they live in one of the allowed countries. Then, they have 7 days to play on real money cash game tables ONLY, at stakes up to €0.05/€0.10. No tournaments, no sit and go’s. Now, here’s the catch. You have 7 days to reach the Play Through Requirements. In order to unlock the bonus cash to stay on your account after a week is up, you have to pay rake equal to the amount of bonus cash on your account. You still get to keep whatever profit you earned. Here’s a few examples. You take the €10 and lose half of it, leaving you with only €5. That means the only money in your account right now comes from the bonus. To keep this €5 of bonus cash, you have to have paid an equivalent amount of rake. If you only paid €2 in rake, then you only get to keep €2. Not great. However, if you manage to turn your €10 into €20, then only €10 of your actual balance is considered bonus money! That means you get to keep the €10 that you earned, no strings attached. The rest of the €10 has to be matched with the amount of rake you paid. If you only paid €2 in rake, then you only keep an extra €2, for a total balance of €12.
That is actually not bad for a no-deposit bonus. The fact that you can only play at the low stakes tables is actually a blessing in disguise for new players.
Heard of SkyPoker? They also offer a nice no-deposit required bonus for new players. You can check it out on Sky Poker’s Official Site Basically, it is a Free £10 Bonus in the form of tournament tokens which can be used for small buy-in tournaments or combined for slightly larger buy-in tournaments. Skypoker is mostly geared towards players in the UK. If you are from Northern Ireland, they do require a copy of your Passport, Driving licence, or Birth Certificate as well as a recent utility bill or bank statement. These are the same requirements for players from the Republic of Ireland.
Want to play on your phone or mobile device? mFortune, the mobile phone casino has a no-deposit required bonus. Through their Terms and Conditions, you can see that all brand new players will receive a bonus of £5 to enable them to try the games before depositing any funds of their own. You can also refer a friend to get a little more cash to your account! There are a few conditions on withdrawing your bonus money, as the bonus is made to encourage play, so we recommend you read through the terms and conditions before playing so as not to be disappointed.
Pokertime is another smaller site that offer $5 free for all new players. The process is very simple. You make an account, login, and claim your offer right here. There are conditions, as usual. You have to earn 20 Real Rewards point before withdrawing your bonus.
Here is the thing. It is difficult to start with only the small amount of funds that these no-deposit bonuses credit to your account. That is why it is important if you are serious about trying to start your career without ever depositing to a site to take full advantage of all no-deposit offers available. The fact is, deposit match bonuses are generally such high value that it is usually better, once you are a winning player, to take full advantage of deposit required bonuses than it is to rely only on no-deposit required bonuses. As well, this allows you to move up in stakes faster as you will have the bankroll to play at the level that you are most profitable at.
Freerolls – Play tournaments
Freeroll tournaments are almost always Texas Holdem tournaments. They are offered by almost every major site.
Pokerstars has a Pokerschool Skill League which allows players to compete against each other on the leaderboards in freeroll tournaments. There are freerolls with a prize pool of $10 occurring 6 times daily, but the real money comes from the $11,800 prize pool distributed to the top 2,000 players who consistently cash in the $10 freerolls. Unfortunately, unless you have earned at least 20 VPPs or more in the previous month, which requires playing real money poker, you are only eligible for a piece of a $1,800 prize pool, while those that have earned 20 VPPs are eligible for part of the $11,800 prize pool.
Freerolls are a good way for beginners to understand how MTTs (multi-table tournaments) work. Most players do not take them seriously because the rewards are generally very small. Freerolls can last for hours, with only the top few getting paid out. Freeroll tournaments may be your best bet. Unfortunately, the best of them often require you to qualify for them by playing real money poker. If you never want to deposit you will be stuck playing the very lowest value tournaments.
There are exceptions. One of these is America’s Card Room, a site which caters mostly to a US audience. You might be surprised to hear that this site is not even based in the US and allows players internationally. This year, they offered their “first-ever free tournament series” with a prize pool of $150,000 from May 8th to 17th. The prize money was split over 56 different tournaments of different poker games, including no limit hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha. Even better, the player who placed first on the leaderboard by winning most consistently over the freerolls earned a vacation in Punta Cana to play the $500,000 main event, all on America’s Card Room’s dime. Keep your eye out each year around May for this incredible freeroll series. Now, with anything, nothing is completely free – these tournaments do have optional rebuys and add-ons which cost real money. You could have a shot at a starting stack completely free, but you’d have to both be very lucky and very good to not have to rebuy or add-on.
While you will not earn much of an hourly wage playing Pokerstars freerolls, they can be a good way to learn how to play tournaments for beginners. Additionally, winners of Pokerstars freerolls, while they will not earn much money, do get a ticket to the weekly $1000 prize pool freerolls. These are a lot higher value.
Play for fun
For those who simply love the game and are not in it for the money, free poker is the way to go. The best site for play money is undoubtedly Pokerstars. They have tens of thousands of people playing in their free games, and even offer the excitement of Sit and Go tournaments and Spin and Go 3 man battles for play money players. Pokerstars offers many different games. You can play No Limit Hold’em, Limit Hold’em, Pot Limit Omaha, and no Limit Five Card draw. It does not take very high level strategy to beat these games.
While almost every site offers free poker games, there is no real reason not to play on Pokerstars. Generally people play on other sites than Pokerstars in order to find softer games or to take advantage of sign up bonuses. Pokerstars games is just the most fun, with the cleanest software and the largest player pool. You can even play ZOOM play money to get more hands in, and download Jivaro basic version HUD for absolutely nothing to get an edge on the opposition. We fully recommend taking advantage of the fact that Jivaro is completely free to get accustomed to using a HUD. While it might not seem sporting to gather hand information on your opponents who are just playing for fake chips, it is highly useful for helping your game in the long run. If you are not competent with different tools, it can be very difficult to take your game to the next level. Quick tip: once you’re ready to get a premium HUD, check out our reviews of Hold’em Manager 2 and Pokertracker4.
Will Free games teach me bad habits?
There is a common thought among players that new players should avoid the play money tables because it is a game utterly unlike real money. When people are playing for play money, they simply do not care about their chips because they can always reload.
We disagree, for three main reasons with one caveat: you need to be able to adjust to real money games.
The first is because when people are playing incredibly loose and crazy, each time you enter the pot you might be playing for stacks. So how do you beat them? Hand selection. You play a very tight game, only getting involved in pots with premium hands, and you bet them aggressively for value.
The microstakes are full of loose, passive players who just want to see a flop. It is much better to learn an overly tight and aggressive style and adjust to playing a wider range less aggressively than it is to try to learn aggression. When you are first learning, it is better to push for value hard on your good hands and learn through trial and error when you need to slow down on the brakes than it is to play a safe, tight game that will never teach you how to maximize value.
The second reason that play money is not necessarily a bad place to start is that you will encounter players who have such little regard for the money that they are blowing away at the tables that they play a style similar to play money tables. While this may seem ridiculous, there are people who simply go to a table, even online, and start shoving all in on every hand. Your play money experience in understanding which hands are generally ahead of their range will serve you well in this highly profitable spots.
The third reason is for complete beginners to get a sense of how the games work. If you are not sure if a flush beats a straight, you need to start with play money. You will learn very quickly when your counterfeited pair ships a large pot to your opponent how essential a complete understanding of hand rankings is. If you are trying a new game, such as switching from NLHE to PLO, play money is a great way to get a feel for the action and learn the rules.
How long should I stick to play money tables?
This following advice is based off of the Pokerstars zoom play money pools. The short answer: Until you can beat it, steadily. I don’t just mean small winnings here and there. You need to be able to crush your opposition at the play money tables. The caliber of opponents is so poor in play money tables that you should be able to have a massive winrate just by shoving all in with premium hands. People love to call it off and reload. However, if you are just playing play money tables to learn the rules before making a deposit, then it is up to you to decide when you are comfortable with moving to real money tables.
The main strategies you want to learn in the play money tables are how to play a tight aggressive style, and secondly, how to set-mine.
Set mining is the practice of playing pocket pairs. On real money tables, your best bet is generally to raise your pocket pairs in order to win a big pot once you hit a set. What is a set? Say you have 55 in your hand. The third 5 hits the flop. You’ve made your set. What makes sets so strong is firstly, that they are very difficult to sniff out for most players as the board could look very appealing to them and yet be very dangerous for them. Image, for instance, that the board came 5KQ and your opponent held KQ. They might try to get full value from you, not thinking that you have them crushed.
On free poker tables, you should raise up your pocket pairs and generally fold to a large reraise. For set mining, a good rule of thumb for beginners is that you do not want to play a hand with anyone that does not have 10 times the stack size of the pot in play. That is because when you hit a set, which you do about 1/7 times, you want to play for their entire stack. You need a good return on your investment. You can also overlimp or call a small bet in late position, hoping to see a flop cheaply to hit your set.
These are literally the only two strategies you need to beat play money tables. Certainly there are many other ways to do it, and in fact you don’t even need to set mine in order to beat them. Play money tables are good practice. They are there for you to learn how to exploit the other players, and the best way to do it against incredibly loose, aggressive players is to beat them for huge pots with huge hands. Play money poker is the basics of how to play. It requires the simplest strategies to achieve a very high win rate.
You can also try out play money tournaments. However, these I would recommend skipping, simply because of the time commitment. If you are willing to spend a few hours playing a tournament you might as well try out freeroll tournaments instead. That way instead of earning play money chips at the end of the day, you get a nice little boost to your bankroll if you manage to cash.
Can you win money without EVER depositing and build up a bankroll?
Some pros are very proud of the fact that they never once in their life deposited to an online site. That was a lot easier about 10 years ago when the games were soft. Nowadays, it is an even more impressive feat.
It is possible, especially with the 888poker no-deposit required $88 bonus to build up a bankroll and never deposit. However, it would take more than just skill. It would take a lot of luck. Even if you take advantage of all the free poker money available from these bonuses, you still need to stick to very small stakes until you manage to earn a good chunk of change.
That is because of a concept called bank roll management. If play money tables do teach bad habits, the worst would be poor bankroll management. Bankroll management is the key to becoming a long term, successful player. There are thousands of stories of incredibly talented players who inevitably go broke because they played in games where they did not have the capital to withstand the variance. When you play a play money table, you can just reload anytime you bust out. That is not true for real life. We cannot stress how important bank roll management is. You need it to be a winning player long term.
As a starting player, conservative bankroll management is essential. You need to have a large sample size, sometimes between 50,000 and 100,000 hands at each stake to know if you are truly a winning player or whether you have just been getting lucky. That may sound harsh, but the game is riddled with stories of players thinking that they were crushing the game and moving up after getting a hot streak. When the luck runs cold, their bankroll is devastated. You want to have between 30-50 buyins for full ring game, and 50-75 for 6 handed games. For smaller field tournaments you might be able to get away with between 50-100 buyins, but once you start to get to 500+ player fields you need at least 150-200.
While you could conceivably play freeroll tournaments slowly but steadily and build up a bankroll, it would be incredibly difficult to earn more than a few pennies an hour long term. We suggest learning the fundamentals of how to play, the rules, the tempo, and the way that online games work through play money, to read a strategy book or two, and to maybe watch a stream on twictch. Once you feel comfortable, take advantage of a deposit bonus and make your first deposit bonus to the site of your choice. You can use our helpful reviews found on this very site to help you make a decision, or check out our article on different bonuses offered. Often, it makes sense to take advantage of a small bonus, which will instantly double your deposit of around $20USD on your second choice of site. This gives you about $40 to work with.
Get started playing poker online for free
We hope that this article was helpful for new players who want to play poker online for free without having to spend any money. Remember, never gamble a single cent that you cannot afford to lose. Check out our home page for more content on the best sites, strategy, and reviews of tools.