Free to Enter Poker Tournament Strategy
Freerolls have been a staple of online poker since the very beginning. These are poker tournaments with real money prize pools – and no entry fee. There are various types of freerolls. Usually, they are given as rewards for depositing players, or as part of a poker room’s loyalty scheme. You can find games where the prizes are tokens to bigger prize tournaments, of even qualifiers for live event satellites.
With no entry fee, Freerolls can be crazy games. Some players will have little or no experience of good poker strategy – other simply will not care. You might find a few good players too, who take big risks in the early stages to ‘go big or go home’.
This page gives you some strategy tips for maximizing your chances of winning online freeroll poker tournaments. Much of the same advice applies to real money poker tournaments with micro-level entry fees too.
Mark's Rec: If you are outside the US, then the best site to enjoy freeroll tournaments is 888 Poker. There are daily freerolls with real money prize pools, you'll get to spin a wheel each day you log on for extra ($3k prize etc) tokens, and brand new accounts get up to $88 free (£20 UK) to play real money games with no risk. Check out www.888poker.com now for the details!
Freeroll Tournament Strategy – The First Few Levels
When you first sit at a table, you’ll soon find out who the maniacs are! Some players will be sitting out, after joining the game and then forgetting about it. Others will be all-in every hand from the get-go – or simply betting and raising at every opportunity.
Your own approach to risk will shape your response to the early maniacs. If you are happy to accept that you might bust out, then you can call these players with a range of strong to mid-strength hands. If you prefer to be patient, then you’ll find plenty of opportunities to chip up gradually too.
The kind of mistakes that your inexperienced opponents make will usually be on the ‘loose’ side. They will bet and call with far too many hands, and will not fold even when the odds show that calling would be a losing proposition.
I recommend that you cut down on bluffs during these early stages. Against some opponents, a bet on the flop will often get them to fold hands that completely missed. If this does not work, shut down and wait for a better spot. This type of player will be quick to give you their chips when you do wake up with a strong hand.
Multi-way hands will be common, often with 4 or more players seeing every flop. By picking hands which work well multi-way, you will have a built in advantage over inexperienced opponents. Small pairs, suited connectors and suited aces all work well in those spots. If you do get dealt a premium hand, play it fast. If you go too slow with those aces, you’ll often end up in a multi-way pot, not knowing what random hands in your opponent’s ranges hit the flop hard.
Sitting Out Opponents
Opponents who don’t play create an interesting strategy dynamic in freerolls, particularly as the blinds start to get higher. What happens is that players will raise looser than normal to try and steal the blinds. You can easily find yourself between a persistent stealer and the sitting out players.
Your opportunity here is to pick up some chips from these players. You’ll need to take on some risk, they might have a legitimate hand this time. By reraising big before the flop, you’ll often get them to fold. Pick hands which have some showdown value if you do get called, and you’ll have some backup.
The added advantage here is that these players will think twice about stealing blinds from the sit-out players directly to your left!
Later Stages of Freeroll Tournaments
By the time you reach the last few tables, the sit-out players will be gone and the maniacs will either have giant stacks or also be out. If the prize pool is more than a few dollars, you’ll find the game changing significantly. From being loose and wild, players will tighten up, start playing solid starting hands and generally start taking the game more seriously.
This is the time for you to go the other way – and start stealing more pots. There is a new found ability to put pressure on opponents, and by betting into them when they show weakness you’ll often win uncontested.
You will also find big stacks that raise all the time, taking advantage of their chip advantage and the new found timidity of opponents. Here you have an opportunity to get your chips in the middle as a favourite. Sure, those big stacks might well call you – though if you have a solid hand, you’ll not only have the blinds and antes to win, but their preflop raise too.
As the final table approaches you should focus on making it to one of the top few places on the payout scale. This is the perfect time to take advantage of timid players who are trying hard to move slowly up the prize ladder.
Where to Find Great Freeroll Poker Tournaments? (US / Worldwide Players)
For US readers, I recommend checking out America's Cardroom on the Winning Poker Network. This site has regular freerolls and the biggest general tournament schedule of any US friendly site. There are also on-demand mini-freerolls which run around the clock. These have tiny prize pools, though are great for sharpening your strategy and to get that bankroll seeded. Check out the new avatars with the latest software update too! See www.americascardroom.eu and get freerolling now!
I'll repeat my (strong!) rec from earlier on the page for worldwide players - 888 really do stand out!
Mark's Rec: If you are outside the US, then the best site to enjoy freeroll tournaments is 888 Poker. There are daily freerolls with real money prize pools, you'll get to spin a wheel each day you log on for extra ($3k prize etc) tokens, and brand new accounts get up to $88 free (£20 UK) to play real money games with no risk. Check outwww.888poker.com now for the details!
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