The Benefits of Play Money
Most, if not all, Internet poker sites offer their players two options: You can play with either real money or play money. Just how much play money they give you will vary from site to site. In most cases, if you lose it all, you can usually get one daily reload. You can also get play-money points as a bonus for getting your family and friends to register on the site, and as a part of various promotional offers.
Playing with play money is an excellent way to hone your game skills and to get a feel for the higher limit games and tournament play, and it gives you a breather when you're on tilt from running bad but still want to play. For poker newbies, playing with play money is a smart thing to do. The play-money games enable you to practice without fear of going broke. Just keep in mind that players in the play-money games tend to play more loosely than players in real-money games, so be prepared to see a lot of raising and all-ins.
Figure 2.3 Signing up for a free account on PokerRoom.com
You will always play more hands per hour playing in online games than you will playing in offline games. Hand for hand, the speed of online play is about the same for play-money games and real-money games.
Also try using your time wisely when playing in the play-money games by training yourself to be aware of tells and to condition yourself to take good notes. By doing this you will have ingrained good observation skills into your style of play and be ready to move on to real-money games.