It comes as a surprise to many people to discover that you can actually play huge numbers of free games at online casinos. Whether it’s slots, table games like blackjack or roulette, numbers games like keno, or even more exotic games such as Pai Gow Poker or Sic Bo, most of the online casinos that we recommend offer free casino games in Flash versions that you can play in demo mode for free, and in many cases without even opening a casino account. This means you can try out a new release, play a game you’ve never played before, or simply get some practice in, without it costing you a cent. When a new online casino opens, sampling their demo games for free can also be a good way of deciding whether it’s the right site for you.
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Play free casino games for fun
Play the maximum bet for free – There are many good reasons why you should take advantage of free games online. Firstly, it gives you the opportunity to play slots with the maximum coin size and number, and to play every payline, which you might not always be able to afford to do. This lets you experience all of the features of a game, such as bonus rounds, free spin rounds, etc., which are sometimes only accessible when you’re betting the max.
Unlock bonuses and special features – Also, as any experienced online slots player knows, on some games access to randomly-triggered bonuses and special features only comes around every now and then, and in the normal course of events you might play for long enough to see everything a game has to offer. However, playing for free means you can hang in there until the bonus round comes around, and if your free credits disappear, you can simply reload and go again.
Play the full version – However, playing for free doesn’t mean that you’re getting a substandard or limited version of the game – with the exception of progressive jackpot slots, when you play free online games you’re getting the full version, including the same playing conditions, visuals and sound effects as you would if you were playing for real money.
Test new game developers – As the online casino industry grows, and new developers come into the market, sampling games for free is also a way to get to know how the new boys’ games play and whether their themes and visuals suit you. If you’ve never played a game by Thunderkick, Ash Gaming or Yggdrasil, for instance, take advantage of the chance to play Flash versions of their games as a demo before you try them for real.
Learn the rules of the game – Free play is also especially useful for getting to know the rules of games that you haven’t played before. While some casino games are pretty straightforward to play and master, others such as craps, baccarat, Pai Gow poker and Sic Bo have quite complex terminology, betting rules and gameplay which, for the novice, can be quite intimidating. However, trying out these games in demo mode means you can take your time learning how to play without it costing you a fortune every time you make a mistake.
Experiment with strategies – Sampling free casino games also gives the chance to experiment with all of those wagering strategies you’ve read about but never really understood – how does the D’Alembert System work? Should I bother using the Martingale System? What exactly is the Labouchére System? You can put these and other strategies to the test in free games, confident that you’re not paying to learn. The same applies to online blackjack as well – if you’ve never quite mastered basic strategy or aren’t sure when you should double down or split, playing free blackjack will give you the chance to practice so that when you play for real money, you know what you should do in any given situation.
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How to play free online games
Technical requirements – Playing games in Instant Play or demo mode is very simple at our recommended online casinos. Provided you have Adobe Flash installed, or are using a Java-enabled smartphone or tablet, you should be able to access most games immediately and enjoy a full gaming experience.
How to access free games – Although the precise steps for accessing games will vary a little from site to site, the overall process will be largely the same, so the following example of how to play online slots for free should serve as a guide:
- Click on the games tab, and/or the slots menu
- When you hover over a game, you will usually get a choice of two buttons: ‘Play for Real’ (or something similar) and ‘Demo’ (or ‘Free Play’).
- Click on ‘Demo’ and the game should begin to load immediately.
Demo credits – Once the game has loaded, you’ll see that you’ve been awarded demo credits. Different sites and different games give you varying amounts to play with, but you’ll generally find that it’s a pretty healthy amount (more than most of us have in our real accounts!). With some games, the number of credits you have to play with depends on the coin size you choose, the number of coins you play per line and the number of paylines in play – adjust any of these and you should see the number of demo credits available change accordingly. Winnings you make go straight into your demo credits account, just like when you’re playing for real money, but they disappear once your free play session ends.
While playing free games online is fun and easy to do, and the quality of the gameplay matches what you can expect when playing the game for real, there are nevertheless elements of the online gaming experience that you’re missing out on.
For instance, although there are literally hundreds of free slots games to choose from, not every game will be available in a Flash demo version; older games, in particular are unlikely to be available to play in this way.
Likewise, you will be unable to sample progressive jackpot slots for free – to enjoy these games you need to be playing for real money, as a percentage of every losing spin goes into the prize pool, which is how the huge jackpots grow so quickly and become so vast. If you enjoy playing slots, not playing for real money not only means you’re missing out on playing some very popular games, but more importantly it means you’re potentially missing out on winning a jackpot that could be worth millions of dollars.
One further drawback to limiting your playing time to free slots is that you’re missing out on accruing loyalty points at your online casino, which are of course one of the best ways to earn free spins, casino credits and other rewards. Finally, if you don’t have a real money casino account then you can’t take advantage of the generous signup bonuses and other special offers that in our casinos reviews have for both new and existing players.