Poker is not just for those playing in big money cash games, or the weekly million dollar tournaments offered online. In fact, there is poker for players who have absolutely no bankroll at all! Many great players started off playing in free games, or won a freeroll tournament to start their poker careers.
Nearly every online poker room offers players a play money alternative to their real money cash games. The rules, buttons, and interface are all normally the same, except of course - you are playing with chips without any cash value. Is play money a decent primer for real money games? No, it is not. Even micro stakes for real money are vastly different from play money games. Watch a typical play money game and you will know why. Players go all in nearly every hand 7 or 8 ways preflop, and remarkably few players take it even remotely serious. It should in no way be used to prepare for real money poker, even for micro limits. However, it can help players introduce themselves to the software. If software is extremely pertinent to you when choosing a site, give the play money games a try. You will be able to have a dry run through, and test out the software to see if you like it.
You can start your poker adventure without depositing any money. What's more, you have a possibility to win real money by playing only for free! Freerolls are poker tournaments that require no buy-in or entry fee, but still have a real money prize pool for players, just like a regular real money tournament. The fees and buy-ins may be provided by the casino or poker room, or some other type of sponsor. Freerolls can be an excellent way for a player who has no money to build a bankroll, and are often grinded by micro stakes players.
Many online sites offer freerolls for new depositors, so often times you have to deposit some amount (usually small) into the poker room before you can play in a freeroll tournament. However, some rooms do offer no deposit freerolls, so players will be able to sign up and play in them without depositing a thing. Local card rooms may also offer freeroll tournaments to their top local players. Frequent player points may also be used as a buy-in to a freeroll tournament.
Occasionally, freeroll tournaments can have some rather larger prize pools but usually the prize pools are small. The winner of a few hundred person tournament will usually only walk away with a top prize of a $100 to $300.
However, this does not mean there is a lack of freeroll tournaments. There are online rooms that offer tens of thousands of dollars worth of freerolls every month. If you are an avid freeroll player, each site should have a schedule of their upcoming freeroll tournaments.