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Why you should use caution moving from recreational poker to real money

June 10, 2020

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You may have noticed that many play chip poker sites are very clear about saying that winning play chips at poker doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be able to win at other forms of poker, particularly when you play for real money. 

The assumption that play chip poker is simply a watered-down form of real cash poker, and ability to win play chips naturally leads to winning at cash, is a dangerous one and could be very costly. While “poker is poker” and you might be playing a game with the same rules and format in the two different environments, it’s important to realize which aspects of real poker cannot be reproduced in a play chip game.

At the same time there are some things which can be learned from play chip poker that will teach you good gaming skills, but not necessarily prepare you for the rough and tumble of gambling for real money.

Differences

The big one is money — the cost of losing and the reduced reward for winning.

It’s true that you can spend money buying play chips, but the cost of recreational poker play in relation to the outlay on a real poker site is usually much smaller. The drain is much more manageable and should not be life changing. Many people have a set fund for their leisure activities, online or otherwise, and their poker expenses come out of the same pot as their other casual indulgences.

Next up is pressure. Along with your bank balance not fluctuating in direct correlation to your recent results, you don’t have the physiological pressure that “playing for keeps” brings with it. You might hate losing, but there is no imperative to win in order to honor debts, nor do you have disposable income at hand after a win that could enable you to upgrade your lifestyle or take a vacation. 

Finally, there is motivation. When you take away the possibility of financial gain and lessen the mental challenge, what are you left with? Only the pleasure of playing. The joy of being successful at something. Prestige of beating peers can be a credible motivation, too. You may wager a few beers on a competition between friends to see who fares best over a certain period, or you monitor your own results and watch them improve with time.

Similarities

Play chip poker sites such as Replay Poker can help you improve and test your poker game, as long as you recognize that the environments are not the same.

Discipline is necessary to succeed — in any venture, particularly when wanting to play a game well. You need to adhere to your strategy and study expert advice from your betters so that you optimize your chances of success. Learning how your opponents behave in different situations requires concentration and attention to detail. Just because the chips are free, they are still tools to be used to win chips from other players. Wasting free stuff because there is more free stuff easily available is a mistake which should be avoided at anything you do.

Emotional highs and lows. Winning is always satisfying, and losing is less so. Winning also brings rewards. It can elevate your status in the game so you accrue more possessions or begin to play tougher, more challenging opponents. However, losing in a free game at no expense can still be great fun if you can look back on the experience and see moments where something unusual or unexpected happened.