Free Casino Games

Let's start this page with the most important piece - where to find the best games to play for free. In most cases, a real money casino site will offer the same catalog of games for play chips, while there are also some sites that only offer the games for free. Depending on what your long-term plan is for playing casino games online, you may prefer one or the other type of site.

For us, it makes sense to try out the games for free that you can also play for real money, so for this list, we have compiled some of the best sites that offer free play versions of their real money games. Here, you will find sites that we think combine the best software with the best overall player experience, and if you decide to continue on with the site to play for real cash, we think these also offer the best value for your deposits.

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While GamblingSites.org is focused on finding the best real money experiences for our online gambling community, we cannot overlook the sheer number of free games being played every day. There is a whole group of players who use these free games for various purposes, but also there are many players who simply don't play real money casino games for one reason or another.

We think that no matter if you are playing the games for free or real money, your experience should still matter, so our team of experts want to give you an overview of the free casino games market. This page is dedicated to everything that matters in the free games side of the industry - the best places to play, the reasons why people play for free, and how best to transition from a free version of a game to be a real money player.

Reasons People Play Free Casino Games

Many of you who are still reading are likely those who play free casino games, but we also imagine there are some of you who are wondering why anyone would play without gambling in the first place. There are many reasons why players turn to the free games they can find online, so let's take a look at a few of the most common reasons for this behavior.

Learning a New Game

Let's face it - some casino games are confusing and intimidating the first time you see them. This can be true even for the seasoned gambler - the first time many of us walked up to a craps or baccarat table, it was with trepidation, and it seemed like the game was taking place in a different language.

Confused Gambler

With the advent of online gambling, the ability to play all the games for free became very cost-effective. In a land-based casino, there may be a short teaching clinic on a game in an off-peak hour, but operators aren't going to run a free game in primetime when they want you to play for real money. Online, there are only incremental costs to having a free version of the game, and sites can track your play, so they know which games you are trying.

Free versions of new games allow players to try the game out without any risk of embarrassment, but also without any risk of losing money. From the comfort and privacy of your own home, you can log into a free game and give it a try without worrying about completely understanding the game or ruining someone else's experience.

Entertainment

Some people like to be entertained without having to gamble to do so. Some of the slots games we have seen have such rich graphics and storylines that you can understand why the amount of money you win isn't really that important. While many of us who have played casino games in the past can't quite grasp this, the emergence of the social casino showed that winning money wasn't the end goal of many players who sit down at a slot machine.

Practice Strategy

While many of you have played some real money casino games, you may not realize how much strategy is involved in particular games. From the different books that have been written on craps to the different betting patterns for video poker, how you play a game can have a direct impact on your odds of winning.

We have a full casino strategy section which covers all the basic to advanced strategies for each game - if you are interested in trying out a new game or simply a new strategy for a game you already play, we encourage you to read this section, then try out one of the free versions of a game.

Bankroll Restrictions

It is also important to remember that while all this cash is being thrown around at slot machines and table games, there are many people who simply cannot afford to play games for real money. For these players, it could be a case of waiting for a time when they are more flush with cash to get into the real money section of a site, but they still want to feel the rush of the cards dealing or the reels spinning.

While we always recommend that players use caution when it comes to bankroll management and playing within your means, playing for free can oftentimes replace most of the enjoyment of the casino games while you are working to be in a better financial position to play the games you love.

Moving from Free to Real Money

We already discussed the fact that many players have no intention of ever making a deposit or playing casino games for real money when they start playing for play chips. However, many players feel that after playing for free for a period of time, they are ready to take the next step.

We think there is a natural progression that works for many players who may not want to or aren't able to make a big deposit but want the chance to win some real money. Here are some alternatives for those of you who are ready to take the first step from play chips to the real money tables.

Free Games for Prizes

Many sites offer free games on their sites that reward players with real money as prizes. These games may require some effort to find, but our team of casino reviewers is always on the hunt for new no-cost promotions that our players can take advantage of. These are typically free tournament events where you play a game like blackjack, poker, or slots without a real money buy-in and can win cash into your account.

Typically, when a site offers these free games, the money that is won comes with some restrictions.

First, many sites require you to play through the money a certain number of times before you are able to cash it out (seems fair considering you didn't pay anything to earn money in the first place). We look for sites that have the lowest wagering requirements of any of these winnings. Also, you may have a maximum amount placed on cashing out any money derived from winnings - this is something sites do to prevent players from taking too much from them without having made a deposit. In either case, you can still end up with real money in your account without having to make a deposit.

No-Deposit Welcome Bonuses

When you read our casino reviews, you will find a full section of each page dedicated to the promotions that a site offers players. We give extra credit to sites that offer players a chance to play at real money games without having to make a deposit. While some sites offer free tournaments as we described above, not every site will follow that routine. Some sites will offer you a bonus just for creating an account.

These bonuses typically come in the form of free spins or free chips. In both cases, there will be wagering requirements before you can consider any winnings to be real cash. However, this gives you a chance to try out a site and its games before committing to making your first deposit. Whenever we find a site that offers these no-deposit offers, we always recommend them to our readers - why not take the chance just for filling out some information?

Micro Stakes Games

One of the benefits of playing at an online casino and a major differentiator between online and land-based operations is the fact that you can play casino games for very small stakes. In many cases, you can sit down at a blackjack table and bet $1 or less on each hand. Add in the penny slots, and there are many ways to start building your bankroll without having made a large deposit.

When you choose to play at a micro-stakes game, you need to remember that your balance will not grow in large sums. This is a game of patience - sticking to your strategy and thinking about your bets as units, not as dollar amounts. Those who remain vigilant will slowly see their balances grow, and when the time is right, you can move up to the next stakes level. Our beginner casino strategy guide reviews all of this, and it is well worth the read if you are planning to start your real money casino journey in this manner.

Conclusion

As you can see, the free games element of online casinos is not a blip on the screen. These games provide entertainment to many players while providing the stepping stones that others need to make their way into real money wagering. Whether you are someone who is more concerned about the entertainment factor that casinos games provide than winning money or you are trying to figure out how to play a game you haven't tried before, free games can give you exactly what you are looking for from an online gambling site. We encourage you as always to play within your means and make sure you are comfortable with a game before you play it for real money.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the games exactly the same for free as for real money?
If you are playing the free games and real money games at the same casino, then they are the same in either case. The software is built to be played according to math models, which should not be different when a casino offers the games in both play money and real money options. Sites that are licensed by gaming jurisdictions like the UK and Malta are subject to software reviews on a regular basis. During these reviews, independent auditors check the math to confirm the games are being played according to the proper rules and odds.
How do social casino games fit into this?
Social casinos burst onto the scene in the mid-2000s, and many of us in the online gambling industry didn't know what to expect. We had seen lots of free games since the inception of internet casinos, so how would these be any different? It is safe to say that most people focused on the real money side of the business could never have expected that players would be willing to pay real money for casino chips they could never convert back into cash! Social casinos base their play on entertainment and achievement rather than winning actual money.
I have been winning a lot in free games - should I expect the same for real money?
A lot of players will contact us very upset that their win rate dropped when they moved from free casino games to those involving real money. Often times people question whether the software is rigged (it isn't) or if it is just easier to play free games. The truth is, most players play with less pressure when playing games for play chips, and this means being more aggressive or betting larger amounts. When you play free games, you should be playing with the same strategy and intent that you would if the chips were real - then you might find the winning percentages to be more realistic.
I played a free game and won real chips. Why can't I cash them out?
As we discussed above, all sites have their own policies on how free games and the winnings from these activities are dealt with. Most sites don't want you to just walk away with the money you won for free, so they will either put a wagering requirement or a maximum withdrawal amount from free money in place. Some sites may only require you to have made a deposit in order to convert those funds, but you should also be wary of any withdrawal restrictions. Casinos aren't in the business of just giving away money, but with some care and focus on the terms and conditions a site displays, you can still turn your free game play into real cash in your pocket.

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