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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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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