How To Win Freeroll Tournaments

Learn how to win freeroll tournaments with these simple but effective tips

Freeroll tournaments can be a great way to build a bankroll. The majority of online poker sites offer freeroll tournaments, some of those events even have large prize pools. Freerolls are also good for practicing your tournament skills without risking any capital.

Profiting from freeroll tournaments can be difficult for a number of reasons. Their prize pools tend to be small so you don’t win much for simply cashing. There are often thousands of entrants all hoping for a share of some free cash. Furthermore, the majority of players entering freerolls have skills towards the bottom end of the scale. These factors all add up to create massive variance.

We’ll arm you with some hints and tips to use the next time you enter a freeroll.

Not All Freeroll Tournaments Are Created Equally

All freeroll tournaments are free to enter by their very nature, but they’re not all created equally. There’s a big difference between playing in a $50 freeroll to say a $10,000 freeroll. Likewise, a freeroll rewarding VIPs for their loyalty needs a different approach from a freeroll for new depositors.

Consider these variables before you jump into your next freeroll:

  • What is the prize pool?
  • Who is the freeroll open to?
  • What is the blind structure?
  • Are rebuys and add-ons available?

Those four variables have a major effect on how freeroll tournaments play out. Those with smaller prize pools tend to be frequented by weaker players and the play is loose. Freeroll tournaments with larger prize pools usually play out like a tournament that you have to buy into.

Free tournaments for specific loyalty levels of an online poker site’s loyalty scheme tend to be frequented by better players. It makes sense this is true because they’ve played a lot of poker to reach their VIP level.

Turbo structures lend themselves to loose, aggressive play. Slower structures mean you can play poker in a variety of styles and still be profitable. Finally, being able to rebuy and/or add-on means you can play looser because it doesn’t matter if you bust.

What’s The Best Strategy For Freeroll Tournaments?

Tight is most certainly right in the early stages of freeroll tournaments. This is when the field is at its fishiest, i.e. all the weak players are still in. Dozens, if not hundreds, of your opponents will play like absolute lunatics hoping to build a big stack. This happens in all freerolls, but especially those with faster structures and smaller prize pools.

Remove all bluffs from your arsenal and concentrate on extracting value from your big hands. You don’t have to be a rock and only play aces and kings, but don’t go three-betting with Th-7s and the like.

Hold your nerve because there’ll be plenty of chances to commit your chips with monster hands. Consider over-betting with aces and kings because freeroll players love to call. Again, try not to slow play your big hands, just bet, bet and bet again. They will pay you off!

The Middle Stages and Bubble Of A Freeroll

You should get to play some actual poker once the early levels are out of the way. The crazies have now either busted or have built a big enough stack to stop them playing like maniacs.

Tight is still right during this stage of freeroll tournaments, although you can loosen up a little. Start taking notes on the two players to your immediate left and right. This is because they’ll be in the blinds when you have the button and vice versa. Stealing blinds is a great way to maintain your stack while waiting for better hands.

The money bubble is the perfect time to massively add to your stack so you can make a run for the final table. Short stacks hope to scrape into the money so put them under pressure whenever you can. Likewise, players with similar stacks to yours have a lot to lose if they call you and are wrong.

Pick on the players who are looking to fold their way to a min-cash. Take their lunch money like the school bully used to!

Going For The Victory

The majority of freeroll tournaments use a standard payout structure meaning most money is paid to the top three finishers. You need to aim for these top three spots to make the grind worthwhile.

We were happy taking low variance lines earlier in the tournament, now is the time to change gears. Our stack is now, hopefully, not one of the shorties, so we can apply pressure to those around us. Ideally, we target anyone looking to ladder up the payouts. Try to avoid the biggest stacks without holding the goods because they can call you without fear. Fight the players with the most to lose, build your stack and go all out for the victory!

Matthew Pitt

If it’s something you can play online for real money, chances are Matthew knows a bit about it. He’s been writing about slots, craps and poker for the better part of the last decade. He’s written for PokerNews, PartyPoker and many other respected online gambling websites during the last nine years.


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