There is a lot to be said about developing poker skills in free games because there is a need to learn the basics of poker. Knowing the value of the hands and how the games unfold is crucial information and getting a grasp of how poker plays out is something every poker needs to know. It is easy to see why it is better to do this in a free environment because it can become very costly trying to learn when your bankroll is dwindling fast. It also limits the opportunities to learn because if your bankroll diminishes, it is not possible to play. This is why playing poker for free or play-money games are a great way for a novice poker play to start off.
There is more tension in a money game
However, there is only so much about the art of poker that can be learned when playing these games and there will come a time when a player needs to switch to real money games. The step-up in pressure, tension and bluffing is hugely noticeable when there is real money on the table and there are skills and tips to be learned which will never come up when playing at a free poker game.
One of the first lessons to learn when playing online poker real money is about bankroll management and knowing when to play what is for the best. Although a player should have a focus on the current hand, there should always be some form of consideration made to the overall evening, event or tournament. Controlling the bankroll to ensure there is always enough chips to play another hand is something each player needs to know but in a free game, the pressure is just not there to help people learn this skill.
Poker is fun but there can be pressure
Although poker is a fun activity, there is genuine pressure attached to playing for real money and different people react very differently when they are placed under pressure. A simple decision in a free game may suddenly take on a huge significance in a money game and this is where a player needs to develop a cool head. It can be easy to jump in quickly or make the wrong decision so being able to think logically under pressure is a crucial trait for poker players. It is also one that can only be learned when playing for real money because it is impossible to recreate the feeling of pressure in a relaxed setting.
Poker should be enjoyable but if a player harbours genuine ambitions of becoming a major poker player, there are skills to learn which can only be developed when there is the pressure of real money involved.