What are freerolls?
Freerolls are poker tournaments that cost you nothing to enter. That’s the good news… the bad news is that in most freerolls, you don’t win much money.
- Winning a few freerolls will help you build your bankroll. Lots of players have proved that it’s possible to get a big bankroll without having to spend any of your own money. But it takes time and patience.
- Freerolls are also a good way to gain experience in playing tournaments with a large field of players. Remember one thing… it’s hard to experience playing at the final table, simply because you very rarely get to see it. By entering lots of the Poker.com Freerolls you will give yourself plenty of chances to work your way through the field and reach the final table.
- Freerolls are meant to be fun too. You’re not risking any of your bankroll and you will get to play against a large variety of people of different skill levels and using different strategies.
- Some freerolls have special features to make the play slightly different and hopefully more interesting. This article explains some of these features are and also strategies you might use when entering a freeroll.
Who are your opponents likely to be?
Although there are players who take every game of poker very seriously, freerolls tend to attract a lot of players who are new to poker or players who are playing purely for fun. Some of the new players often don’t know what they’re doing and even if they do, they may just want to enjoy playing a few rounds with no thought of getting to the final table. These players raise problems for more experienced players – their bets and raises are not respected by inexperienced players. It’s hard to assess what cards new players are holding. Complex tactical bets are generally “too complex” to affect the new players game play All-in bets are more common with inexperienced players resulting in more uncertainty.
There are dozens of poker books available to improve your play which will take you weeks to read, so in the meantime…
Tips for playing in freerolls
The type of players with whom you’re playing tend to dictate the strategy you need to use If there are lots of inexperienced players complex strategies won’t work so well, so play simple.
- Only play good starting hands
- If you’ve got a good hand, make big raises, larger than in a normal game.
- If you have nothing, fold. Don’t be tempted to bluff.
- Be patient and wait for good cards and then you’re on your way.
- Most deep stack tournaments experience three distinctive stages:
- The early stage: Each player’s stack is pretty high compared to the blinds. Usually more than 25 big blinds worth.
- The middle stage: The blinds have gone up considerably, the tournament field will be half to one third of the original starters. Many players chip stacks will be less than 20 big blinds.
- The final table. Ten players or less. Most of whom will be deep stacked again.
How can you survive the early stage?
Patience is the best guide. With so many players at each table there will be lots of opportunities for big/good hole cards. Your turn will come but you should expect to be folding lots of hands. Don’t get frustrated when you fold your cards and the flop then gives you a great hand! If you have a strong starting hand that’s your chance to get ahead, so you should play them aggressively.
Before the Flop
- If you are dealt AA, KK, QQ or AK, even if someone has raised before you, make a sizeable raise (three or four times the original bettors bet amount, at least – to inflate the pot, in order to get more value) or if the stack sizes are short, push all-in and try to get a call (and for your hand to hold!).
- If you’re in late position you should also go all-in with JJ, TT or AQ, as long as no one has raised before you.
- If you’re holding a small pair, 66 or better in middle or late position you should raise around four BB, unless someone has already raised, in which case you should fold.
- If you are last to act, or one of the last, you might want to see the flop even if you have poor cards, as long as there hasn’t been a raise. Calling the BB amount is called ‘limping’. You are only risking a small number of chips in the early stage and you might hit the flop perfectly.
After the Flop
Your decisions now are more complex. Ideally you want to be last to act after the first round of betting (‘in position’) so that you have valuable additional information (your opponent actions) to help you make your decision.
- If you still don’t have anything, you must fold to any level of bet. If you are last to bet and nobody has bet before you, you can take a ‘stab’ at winning the pot without having to show your hand by making a half-pot bet. If you have no cards which are connected in some way with the flop, it is better to try to win the pot now.
- If you have two pairs or better, then you go all-in.
- If you’ve got a four card flush draw or an open-ended straight draw, you should only go all-in if a number of opponents have already continued to put chips in the pot. The higher pot justifies you taking a bigger risk.
- If you’ve hit the top pair, i.e. one of your hole cards matches the highest flop card, then you should only go all-in against one or maybe two opponents. If you’re playing against two or more opponents your chances of winning are not good.
The middle stage
Generally, you should consider only two pre-flop options… raise or fold. Further, if an opponent makes a raise you should consider an all-in or fold instead of a raise, depending on the cards. Never waste your chips with a simple ‘call’ in any position. Every chip you have is now vital.
Players with low chip stacks are particularly dangerous in the middle stage. It will be more difficult for you to guess what hole cards they have if they push ‘all-in’.
Be aware of the position of the big stacks at your table. They have the ability to knock you out of the tournament! But they can also be a good source of chips for you. Be patient. You’ll need to have a strong hand to play them.
Before the Flop
Only play good hands. Don’t speculate this is usually a fast way to waste chips.
If you’re holding a pair of nines or better, you should raise and be prepared to go ‘all-in’ if you get re-raised. This also goes for suited Broadway cards e.g.AK, or AQ.
After the Flop
Since you’ve paid to see the flop, you have probably committed a large portion of your stack so this is your last chance to make a decision. All or nothing! Remember, if you continue betting you are usually effectively committing to eventually bet all of your chips on this hand. If you’ve raised preflop and playing ‘heads-up’, you should bet about half or two-thirds of the pot with any hand. Prepare yourself…If your opponent raises, you should go all-in with any top pair or better, or a flush draw.
The final table
Position, stack size and aggression. You may not have played any of the other players who made it to the final table but you need to find out about them quickly. Usually, the final table players include a high proportion of good/experienced players.
- If you see a raise from a player in early position, they will usually be holding good cards.
- If someone in early position raises and you have AA, KK, QQ, JJ and AK you must go ‘all-in’.
- If a middle position is the first to make a raise, then you should also go all-in if you have 88,99 or tens.
- If nobody has raised before you and you’re in early or middle position, then go all-in with any pair from eight upwards as well as with AK, AQ and AJ.
- If you’re first to act and also in late position, you should also go all-in with KQ.
These tips are only intended to get you started. If you enjoy playing and want to improve your game, then read and study as much as you can about poker strategies and tactics. Even the professional circuit players never stop reading and learning how to improve their game.
But most important is have fun, only play with money that you can afford to lose. Remember… even the best players get unlucky sometimes.