Most poker players start off their career at the play money tables. Scared of risking any of their own money, players find this option at a poker site and decide it is a good idea to use the tables as a tool to learn the game before trying it for real. This is fine, however playing at this level for too long will eventually scar your game for ever. If you allow yourself to believe you are playing good poker at a play money table, you have played far too many hands at non competitive stakes. There are many differences between play money tables and real money, which we will discuss now.
At a play money table you have nothing to risk. The chips you are playing for are meaningless and should be taken as nothing more then a learning resource. When you take the plunge into a real money game however, you have something at stake. You have put your own money at risk and the game suddenly becomes worthwhile and meaningful. This brings out peoples best game, unlike play money.
Players Ability Level
Player’s ability at play money poker stakes is obviously on the low side. No real poker player would lower themselves to play money when they are a winning NL25 player for example. Therefore you have to take players at play money with a pinch of salt, as you will be lucky to find a player like that at a real money table. Most play money tables are an all-in or fold game, meaning players do not have the chance to show their skills and are limited to clicking 2 buttons each hand. This means there is no strategy at play money and players will not develop at a strategy at these games. At a real money table, players normally have a substantial understanding of the game and have tweaked their game to enforce a solid poker strategy. You will find bad players at real money games, but nothing like what you will see at a player money table.
Most play money tables have a friendly atmosphere, which is shown in the chat box at the online poker rooms. There is a community type feel to a sites play money tables which cannot be found at a real money table. This is attached to the risk factor. A player who takes a bad beat at a play money table will not be angered by losing his play chips, whereas a real money player who has just lost a buy in will often be infuriated enough to type abuse into the chat box and even follow you around from table to table just to berate your play.
Above are just a few of the main differences you will find when switching from play money tables to real money tables. You should think hard before depositing for the first time and remember you are more then likely going to lose that first deposit fairly quickly.