To play poker for free online is one of the easiest and increasingly popular ways to learn the game, especially Texas No-Limit Hold'Em. Virtually all online poker rooms will let players come in at no cost because they would love to have you as a real money player in the future. It is less intimidating and far cheaper than going to a land based poker room. And if you live in an area where you cannot drive to a poker room, playing over the Internet becomes even more attractive. Combining the purchase of a couple of good books on Texas Hold'Em with the 24/7 online availability of a place to practice and learn will allow anyone to increase their knowledge and ability on the game of poker.
When selecting somewhere to begin playing at no cost, it pays to look into what benefits are offered to the player by the poker rooms. Some offer play money tournaments on top of regular table play which can help to learn and practice your tournament strategies. If you have never played before, make sure they have tutorials for the different types of poker, a "How to Play Poker Games" section in addition to a ranking of poker hands. It's also a good idea to go over the system requirements so that when you download their software it will work on your computer.
Also look into sign up bonuses, real money account funding methods, player point programs and the variety of real money tournaments offered so that you are familiar with them when you are ready to begin playing for cash. Some poker rooms will offer extra real money sign up incentives to their fun players just to make sure their customers remain playing with them. "Bad Beat Jackpots" are being offered more and more, (A bad beat takes place when a player has a great hand like four 8's which was beaten by a even better hand like four Aces. The loser has received a bad beat.), but there are differences so take time to become knowledgeable on these as well. They can range from a flat amount of money for the person receiving the bad beat to others which have a progressive jackpot that can run into the tens of thousands.
For those who join a poker room and come to the point to where they want to play for real money, there are additional opportunities to play without cash. And these can be profitable. They are "Freeroll Tournaments" and "Player Point Programs". Freeroll tournaments are free entires into poker tournaments that cost nothing to get into. These pay cash or other awards to the player depending on how well they did during the tournament. You can either enter a freeroll when they are made available or you could receive an invitation from the online poker room itself. Player point programs are points awarded from the poker room to you based on your time at the tables.
Depending on the program, these points can be redeemed for cash, merchandise or entry fees into satellite tournaments. You could potentially enter a satellite tournament with prize seats to the World Poker Tour or World Series of Poker events and win huge amounts of cash. In 2004 Greg Raymer entered a satellite tournament through an online poker room, won a WSOP seat and eventually went on the win the World Series of Poker title and $5,000,000 in cash.
There are still other ways that will allow a person to play for free. When playing for fun at an online poker room, referring a real money player can result in actual cash for you to play with. And today charitable organizations, businesses or corporations offer online poker tournaments for promotion purposes. These are announced randomly, so keep your eyes and ears opened.
Finally, consider signing up for free online surveys and focus groups that pay cash for participation. Just search the Internet for online surveys or focus groups to get started. A person won't get rich or quit their job behind what they bring in, but the money can fund the entry fees for a number of low cost online poker tournaments.
Tom Howze is a webmaster for 9 sites that relate to the World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour events, updates and information to play poker for free online .