Playing for Real Money vs. Fun Money – What’s the Difference?


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Many players say they’re winners in fun money games but when they start playing for real money something goes wrong and they go on tilt. What is the psychology behind playing for fun money? Why players with good results in fun money fail when they switch to real money?

In this article we’ll analyze the differences between the two game types (fun and real). A player playing in a certain online gambling game usually starts out as a fun player. The player checks several criteria such as navigating and understanding the software and needs to feel comfortable playing the game. Many elements are important like the number of connected players. The more traffic and connected players the more interesting and stimulating the action and the competition. It’s great to have many existing and new players to choose from. Since players vary in skill and game level, the more players available to play against the better the chances of a player to test his ability to beat the opposition and improve his own skill and game level.

After the player has checked the criteria he eventually makes the decision to deposit and play for real money. Game rules stay the same but still there are many differences between playing for fun and real money.

The difference between playing money to a real money game:

Playing for Real Money

  • Can usually be played only by players age 18+
  • Players usually play to win money, have fun, and pass the time
  • Players play in their strongest game or the game they’re most experienced in. For example, if a player usually player Texas Hold’em he will prefer to stick to that game variation and not play other game types such as Omaha, and vice versa. Also if a player is used to playing head-up games he will prefer not to switch to ring games where he will be outclassed
  • Real money players usually stick to the same table limits. For example, a player used to limits of 2/4 will stick to those limits and will only go up or down one level (1/2 down or 3/6 up)
  • Bet sizes can intimidate opponents from entering hands, bluffing is usually effective if done correctly.

Playing for Fun Money

  • Can also be played by players under 18
  • Players play for fun.
  • Many players playing all game variations.
  • Min/Max bets: fun players try out all types of table limits and usually don’t stick to the same table limit for long.
  • Bet sizes don’t intimidate opponents from entering hands. Bluffing is hardly effective as players will usually bet all the way since they’ve got nothing to lose.

These differences affect games played in real money mode and changes the way a player plays. If you think you that playing against fun money and real money players is the same you’re dead wrong! These aren’t the same players and the way each game is played is totally different – the players are different and the goals are different. We’re dealing with different age groups, social classes (a player that places high bets or plays high limit tables is likely to have a large bankroll and income), and most importantly different targets and objectives – in one group the objective is to have fun, and in the other the objectives are to crush your opponents and take their money.

It is therefore a fundamental mistake to make comparisons and assumptions between fun players and real money players.