Why Real Money Poker is Different from Play Money Poker


Most players expect that real money poker games will closely resemble play money games. They make the switch to playing with real money without thinking about it, only to realize that once they’ve placed real money on the line, the game has changed. Unfortunately, real money poker is tougher than play money poker. There are some important differences between the two types of gameplay. Knowing the differences ahead of time can improve the odds of success as a real money poker player.

Level of Play

Players need to understand that when it comes to playing in an online casino with real money, even the lowest limit real money game has a much higher level of play than play money games. Play money games are places for players to fool around. Many don’t even use strategy in their methods of play. When there are no real consequences to losing, these games can be a great way to kill time without focussing on the results. Players bet big on losing hands, throw chips into the pot just to create a showdown, play every hand they’re dealt, and generally don’t care whether they win or lose.

Once real money is involved, everything changes. Even the lowest skilled players make an effort to win, and players don’t just throw chips around needlessly. When the game is played differently, it’s much harder to win. Long-term profitability in poker depends on the ability to capitalize on your opponent’s mistakes. Many of these errors in play are removed in real money games because everyone at the table is trying to win. This tightens the margin of error and requires a higher skill level to read other players at the table.

While we tend to think practice makes perfect, this theory doesn’t always hold. Playing money games is great for learning how to play, but perfecting your poker strategy requires playing the real thing.

The Rake

Playing against a player of equal skill will eventually pay off in play money poker games if you play head-to-head with them. In real money games, this will result in you losing money over time because of the rake. The rake refers to a small portion of the pot that the poker rook retains as part of every real money hand. Average players break even over time in play money games, but because you lose money to the rake on every real money game, average players will end up losing long-term.

Other Minor Differences

Not all the differences between play money and real money poker work against you. Players are usually more courteous in real money games because they’re focused on the game itself. There’s slightly less chatter, less trash-talking, and an overall more pleasant game environment.

Games are usually slower-paced, as players take more time to think about their moves. This can be beneficial to beginner players, as it gives you more time to think strategically about your next move.


The biggest difference between play money and real money poker games is how much players care about winning and losing. This fact shows up in every aspect of the game, from the players’ attitudes to how long a game takes. Real money poker is fun and more intense. It offers a completely different experience than any play-money game can offer.

Tony Altidore
Tony Altidore
Tony Altidore is a seasoned journalist with nearly 10 years experience. While studying journalism at the University of Pennsylvania, Tony found a passion for finding engaging stories. As a contributor to The Tiger News, Tony mostly covers state and national developments.

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