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Why Playing for Free Is the Best Way to Learn Poker

As a poker educator for women worldwide, Poker Power advocates for practicing with play chips and not real money. Not only is it the cheaper way for beginners to compete with experienced players, playing for free has tangible benefits for your learning and enjoyment. Here’s why playing for free is the best way to learn poker.

Getting out of your comfort zone

One of the most common mistakes new poker players make is that they’re unwilling to put their chips in a pot unless they’re sure they’ll win the hand. Unfortunately, opportunities to win in poker and in business are rarely a sure thing. Once you get experience assuming different types of risk in poker, you’ll learn to take smart risks in all of life.

It can feel particularly scary to try a new and bold strategy when you have money on the line. The difference between risking even $2 and using play chips can be a significant psychological hindrance in exploring and failing in the pursuit of personal growth. You never need to play for money at the expense of playing your best game.

So when should you transition from play chips to microstakes? For some people, never. Choosing to involve money can be stressful or go against personal or religious principles. However, if you do decide to move up in stakes (including going from 0-$5) we recommend you transition after you’ve met these criteria:

  • You have a winning track record at lower stakes.
  • You can identify what you are doing better than the players you’re beating.
  • You know (generally) how you’re going to play hands before they’re dealt to you.
  • You have the means necessary to move up without a downswing seriously affecting your mental or financial health.

Developing a love for the game itself

Many new players are attracted by the idea of poker without knowing what the game is really like. Movies and TV represent poker in all sorts of zany ways, from saloon games in the wild west to egos and feuds on High Stakes Poker. In truth, this sensationalization gives the wrong impression of what a poker table is like in 2021: friendly and strategically adept.

By playing poker without money involved, you’re eliminating the thrill of winning money that a game show contestant might feel. While fast-flying stacks of cash may seem glamorous, the players who find the most success and fulfillment from poker are the players who love the game itself. You’ll quickly learn whether you enjoy poker for poker’s sake (strategy, reads, the improvement process) by playing in games that don’t involve money. If you still have fun, poker is the game for you!

Building confidence

Playing poker without any money at the table will take the pressure off the learning process. Everybody at the play-chip table is a beginner and no one will mind if you need extra time to think or if you’re confused by a rule. Plus, you can get some wins under your belt as you grow and improve.

While some people may not take poker seriously unless it’s for money, Poker Power can ensure that you have serious competition without having to risk serious money. We connect women learning poker via free virtual tournaments, clubs, and classes. Our events are supportive environments for you to meet like-minded friends. Join us and discover the power of poker.

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