Poker is both popular and extraordinarily versatile, with games available via apps, some of the major game streaming services we examined in our article Top 7 Online Game Streaming Services in 2022, and of course, at in-person venues if you prefer. However, many players don’t just want to find places to play, but specifically places to play without stakes — using play money and fake chips to simulate the game, work on strategy, and have a bit of fun.
Fortunately, there are still plenty of options that fit this need. Let’s take a look at some of the best.
Poker Club is a very solid poker game designed for console and PC play, and offers you the ability to play with friends or strangers without real money on the table. It supports various types of poker, and distinguishes itself primarily through its PCC Poker Tour mode. One review of the game, by Fingerguns.net, describes this as an “extensive single player campaign” in which you can not only win (play) money, but also complete objectives, which in turn unlocks more tables to play at. Objectives include things like winning a given number of hands in a single session, directly eliminating a given number of opponents, and so on. Altogether, these features provide satisfying senses of competition and progress to players.
Zynga Poker is a multiplayer poker game available on several platforms (including Facebook) that allows you to play Texas Hold‘em at either five- or nine-player tables. It’s free to play (although it does have some ads and in-game purchases, which not everyone loves), and services a gigantic community of players. The game is generally regarded as having a smooth and reliable interface, as well as some of the most consistent competition out there, given that huge player community. Meanwhile, other noteworthy features of Zynga Poker include daily and weekly challenges (which do require you to put a fair number of your play-money chips on the line) and watches –– trophy-like achievements that you earn through regular play, and which reward you with additional free chips.
PlayWSOP is highlighted by Poker.org in their beginners’ guide to the rules of poker specifically as a game that’s suitable for those who want to play without real money on the line. It’s a particularly convenient poker option for beginners: You can play right in your browser (no download needed) or access the app on an Android or iOS device if you choose. Once you’re in, you start with $1 million free chips, and you can either dive into assorted free game modes (including lots of fun tournaments), or enter the WSOP Poker Academy, where you can learn more about the game as you go. And as is the case with most games we’re discussing here, you can also enjoy an achievement-driven progression system, whereby you accomplish various goals, collect bracelets as trophies, and so on.
Red Dead Redemption 2
This isn’t exclusively a poker game by any stretch of the imagination, but it is one that contains a poker circuit –– and a pretty satisfying one at that! In Red Dead Redemption 2, you take on the role of Arthur –– a wanted criminal with a good heart making his way through a world of “mind-boggling detail”, as one review put it. In this cowboy’s shoes, you can make your way to one of several different locations (bars and inns and the like) to settle in for a game of poker, with your in-game money on the line. Naturally that doesn’t make for “real” stakes, but given that you need that money to buy weapons, upgrade gear, or improve your base camp, you won’t want to treat it carelessly at the tables! Also of note is that the in-game poker circuit can also be played in Red Dead Online, in more of a multiplayer mode.
HD Poker: Texas Hold’em
This is game designed for computer play, which can be downloaded for free from Steam. It sets you up with $1 million in free chips to start with, from which point you can begin to play either with friends or against strangers in a busy online environment. As you play, you’ll have the chance to collect items (which you can trade with other players), win prizes, and even enjoy some mini-games, like assorted jackpots and spin-the-wheel experiences. But where it really distinguishes itself is in the title: The “HD” aspect of the game shouldn’t be taken for granted. It’s a very attractive game that utilizes its sharp, fun visual style to bring all kinds of interesting character avatar features and background settings (from ancient temples to clouds in the sky) to life.
Playing poker is a great pastime, and it’s even better when you don’t have to spend your real-life money. Through these games, you can enjoy all kinds of competitions and multiplayer options across a range of different environments –– all without risking a dime.