There is no better situation in poker than to play in a freeroll. Freeroll tournaments cost you nothing to play and you have the chance to win real money. Understandably, freeroll tournaments are the most popular form of poker found online. Hundreds of thousands of people play them every day. Every poker room and many poker affiliates put up the money for these freeroll tournaments. They are looking to reward their players, provide an environment for improvement, and help players build an online bankroll to consider playing real money poker.
Facing hundreds, if not thousands, of fellow freerollers each chasing a piece of the prize pool is no easy challenge. They may be newer or relatively inexperienced players, but it is often their unpredictability that can make a managing a freeroll tricky. Some of these players will look to see how far luck will carry them, often pushing in all in with very surprising holdings that don’t make a lot of sense.
Here are eight things to keep in mind if you plan to play these freerolls.
1) Freerolls cost you nothing, so you can’t really expect a return. If you don’t make the money, shake it off and move on to the next freeroll. Navigating through a large tournament, freeroll or not, requires considerable luck and skill, especially against unpredictable players. Expect little from any individual freeroll. There are always more freerolls to play.
2) Luck plays a big part of every tournament and freerolls are no different. In a tournament you are forced to make tough decisions. Inexperienced opponents may play a weak top hand like they have a set, or vice versa. They may shove on you with a weak flush draw, and you have to make a tough call with your overpair. You will likely find yourself in multiple flip (50-50) type situations where you have over cards versus a pair and you must win these to advance. No matter how well you play, you will typically need to get lucky to make it deep in a tournament.
3) Playing freeroll tournaments is a numbers game. Find and enter as many as you can. Network the poker forums and various poker sites to learn when and who is hosting freerolls. Some freerolls are password protected or require some simple tasks to enter them, but considering the free prize pool, they are worth your time to try to build a bankroll from nothing.
4) Like with any tournament, while making the money or the final table are nice achievements, the big money is in the top 3 spots. You would rather have one top 3 finish than 8 or 10 in the money or lower finishes. So learn to play for the win. You would always rather risk going out before than the money if it can secure a big stack that can help you go deep than just limp into the money with no chance to go further.
5) Play as well as you can. Just because your opponents are playing wildly or badly shouldn’t cause you to abandon the proper methods you’ve learned to play winning poker. Unless you have many freerolls lined up to play and want to take an aggressive double up early or move on approach, it is wise to play tight early. Observe the other players so you can identify the weaker players to pick on at the right time.
6) Look to take advantage of the sit outs. There are often numbers of players who sign up for freerolls in advance who then don’t show up at the start to play. This creates a dynamic where possibly multiple players at a table are slowly being blinded out. Depending on your position at the table, you can look to steal many of their free blinds. Look to avoid big confrontations with the other active players over the blinds though as they will pick up on your steals after a while.
7) As the tournament progresses, so does the level of the play. Usually the worst or most unlucky players bust early and rather quickly. Those remaining either are on a lucky streak or are of the more skilled variety. You may need to adapt your play and play more tactically as the weaker players drop out.
8) Lastly, have fun. Freeroll tournaments are the perfect opportunity to try out a new move or new style you read about. Some players take freerolls very seriously. It’s okay to have a strong competitive drive to do well in freerolls, but they are there to serve a purpose. Set a goal and try to achieve it. If it doesn’t work out, try to figure out what went wrong so the next time you can improve your results. Poker is a game where good players never stop learning. Freerolls are a wonderful risk free environment to sharpen your game. The more you play, the better you will get and also increase your chances of cashing or winning one.