Free or practice play at an online gaming site is a luxury that often goes unappreciated. While I’m the first to admit that free gaming shaves a bit of the excitement off the action (okay,J. Phillip Vogel is considered a leading authority in online gambling. He has written for most of the major gaming publications worldwide including Casino Player, Strictly Slots, Gambling Online, Bluff, and many more. He is also the author of a series of best-selling gambling books collectively titled The Real Deal. He is the founder of online watchdog site TheOPN.com at www.theopn.com and currently serves as the Editorial Director for Poker Life magazine. a lot of the excitement) its value isn’t in the thrill of the chase.
Rather, for the novice player, such free gaming affords a wonderful opportunity explore the online gaming environment risk-free. Players can test proven and theoretical strategies, learn the basics of unfamiliar games, or just have fun knowing that there’s no risk no matter what they do.
But free games aren’t just for novice players. They’re a terrific resource open to gamblers of all levels of experience. Unfortunately it’s often difficult to convince veteran online gamblers to play free games, even when the situation warrants it, such as while testing out a new site. Although clearly to their advantage, many feel that their familiarity with online gambling makes it an unnecessary step claiming (erroneously) that all online gambling software is identical, so why bother trying it out when it will be no different from the previous site?
Whether this is your first or 1000th time playing online, it’s never a good idea to try a new site without first getting some hands-on experience with the software. It’s just too important of a step. Mind you, that’s not to say that free games aren’t wholly without drawbacks. Like everything else in life, they have their good points and their bad points.
Forgetting the entertainment value of playing casino games, there are some important reasons why both veterans and aspiring real-money players should give the preview games a whirl.
Players can test before they commit. Free games allow players to try out a site’s software before plunking down any cash. This is a good way to examine the look and feel of the graphics, which can help you to determine if the site is a good match of your preferences.
Practice makes perfect. It’s never a bad idea to get in a little practice on your favorite games, especially if you’ve been away from the tables for a while. Practice play is especially important if you are working on any new strategies that may need fine-tuning.
Players gain experience with unfamiliar games. When dealing with new games, it’s to the player’s advantage to first learn the theoretical basics and then get some practical experience playing it for free. Taking the time to master new games when there’s no risk is the most cost-effective way to learn.
Get your feet wet online. For those gamblers who have never even been in an online casino before, playing in the free games section affords the opportunity to make the leap from land-based to Net based with no pressure.
And Now the Bad Points
It’s true that nothing is perfect—even if it’s free. Below are a few of the problems practice gamers are likely to encounter when playing online.
Incomplete selection. Not every game that’s available in a real money setting is available for free play at every site. If you’re visiting a new site and are unsure if a desired game is available for free, contact customer support and ask them—they’ll be happy to answer any questions.
A limited amount of interaction. In free play, you’re typically going to be facing off solely against the computer-generated house—which can get boring quickly. If you’re looking to chat or compete against other players, micro-limit multi-player games may be your only option.
It takes time. Between registering and downloading the necessary software (if there is any to download) it can take 20 minutes or more to go through the entire process. And after all of that, you may find that you just don’t like the site’s software—meaning you’ll have to go through the process all over again elsewhere.
Unrealistic action. While free games will typically be identical to the real games, any opponents you may face in multiple player settings tend to act differently then they would if the game were for real money. For example, at a free game table in an online poker room, don’t be surprised if 7 out of 10 players go all-in on just about every hand with garbage—something they’d never do if real money was involved.
While free games are a valuable resource for online gamblers—especially if your web experience is minimal—they’re not without their limitations. But despite any of its drawbacks, free gaming is an important step for safely entering and competing in the world of online gambling.
Several great online casinos offer free play for a variety of games, including slot machines, video poker, table games (blackjack, poker, roulette, ect). If you would like to try out some free play games check out GO! Casino and Golden Casino for a wide variety of free play games as well as excellent sign-on bonuses for players who would like to put down cash and play in real mode.
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