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The Value of Free Casino Games

Online Casino : The Value of Free Casino Games
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Why free practice games are so important before you start playing, by J. Phillip Vogel
by J. Phillip Vogel

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, 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.

A Few Good 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.

Practice play: Casinos, poker rooms and more
Looking for a place to try some free games? Here’s a brief sampling of popular sites that deliver quality practice play.

Casino Gaming
The Sands of the Caribbean
Players can choose from a wide selection of games including table games, slots, and video poker. All games played in the free (fun) mode feature the exact same graphics and payout percentages as with the real player games. To make things even simpler only a user name is required to play free games—full registration is optional.

InterCasino has made a science of online play. The site features over 100 games playable in both practice (free play) and real player mode. Both download and no-download games are available. The site also offers free play games in their associated poker site and bingo hall, both of which are accessible from the home page.

River Belle Online Casino
Over 200 realistic interactive games are available for both real and free play. In the free play version, players need to open a “Guest Account” and download/install the selected software to receive $2,500 in practice credits.

Poker Rooms

Party Poker
Party Poker features all of today’s favorite poker versions in both free and real player modes. These include Texas Hold ‘em (limit and no limit), Omaha and Seven Card Stud. Single and multi-table free play tournaments are also offered.

Paradise Poker
Offers one of the best sections of free play poker on the Net. Games include: Hold'em, Omaha High & Hi/Lo, Seven Card Stud High & Hi/Lo, Five Card Stud, Draw and Pineapple.

Ultimate Bet
Their lobby features an easy-to-follow free games section where new players can go to experience online poker firsthand. Selection includes: Texas Hold ‘em, Omaha, Stud, Omaha 8/better, Stud 8/better, Pineapple and Triple Draw.

Bingo Sites
Offers over two dozen bingo games for free including almost numerous 75-ball and 90-ball bingo games. Both manual daub and auto daub rooms are available. To play any free games, players must fill out a basic registration form.

Bingo Mania
Features a wide variety of free and real bingo games in both downloadable and Flash formats. The site also features a limited selection of free slots, video poker, Keno and pull-tabs. If you’re in the mood to be sociable, some chat features are also available.

A comprehensive online bingo hall, CyberBingo provides a nice variety of games for both real and play gamers. Free games are available throughout the week and come with the added bonus of paying cash and prizes to winners.

J. Phillip Vogel

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