Freeroll Tips - How to Beat Freerolls
written by: John
Freerolls are an excellent way to start a bankroll to avoid having to invest any of your own money out of pocket. Virtually all poker sites offer freerolls with many sites offering them on a regularly scheduled basis. They will vary in size in terms of both the field and prize pool. Some prize pools will consist of cash, others will be an entry into another tournament and some may even offer entries into live events.
Although freerolls are great because they're "free" to enter, that's really the downside as well. Meaning, since no one has to pay to enter them, many players do not take freerolls seriously making it more difficult for those who do to play.
So with the somewhat smaller payouts, large field size and super aggressive fishy players, are freerolls still worth playing, let alone possible to beat?
Yeah, they are worth playing and can be beaten providing you have some patience, luck on your side and you follow some of our tips below.
How to Beat Freeroll Tournaments
Overall, you're not going to approach a freeroll much different than you would a sit n go or multi table tournament. Here is what I would suggest you do.
Double Up or Done. This strategy is one that is used by many freeroll junkies. All this strategy consists of is trying to double up early or bust out. The idea behind it is to avoid playing for several hours only to bust out, miss making the money and waste several hours for nothing.
This strategy is not recommended. The problem with this strategy is that doubling up early doesn't do you a ton of good. After all, the chips really aren't worth all that much and certainly not much more than what your opponents have (ICM anyone?). Not only that, but just because you double or triple up early doesn't mean you will make the money. Lastly, you may play for several hours and not make the money, but the same thing can happen in a tournament with a buy-in. The key difference is that you didn't pay to play in a freeroll.
Tight is right. I would suggest the tight is right approach when first starting out in a freeroll. Many players will be using the double up or done approach which means that players will be busting out left and right. By sticking to only premium hands, you won't be faced with a marginal decision for all your chips early on.
The one slight exception to this would be the field size. The larger the field the more willing I am to gamble a little bit to build a stack. This doesn't mean I'm pushing with any two cards, but I won't sit and play super tight and blind away either. The smaller the field size, the tighter I will be since skill will still play a factor as opposed to a crapshoot in a 10k player field.
Willing to flip early on. This slightly contradicts what I was saying above, so let me explain. Basically, when I'm saying I'm willing to flip early on, generally I mean I'm willing to add a hand such as AQ suited or AK to the hands I'm willing to go all-in with pre-flop. These hands are flipping against almost all pairs (slight dogs to QQs and JJs) and are really only beaten by aces and kings. Most of the players in a freeroll are stacking off much lighter than this, so AK/AQ is definitely ahead of most players' ranges. Again, this would be a bit spewy in a tournament or sit n go, but is well worth the risk in a freeroll.
Don't bluff. In a freeroll, I will almost avoid bluffing altogether, even continuation bets. Players are calling and willing to stack off too lightly and draw with improper odds. Just think of all these opponents like calling stations, the worst guys in the world to try to bluff. Many will call just for the sake of calling.
Try to find smaller freerolls. This may seem like common sense, but when I am looking for a freeroll to play in I prefer to find one with as small a field as possible. The biggest reason is that most prize pools only pay out the top 10% or 15% and the money isn't that much. So the smaller the field, the more that skill will take precedence over luck. Some of the best freerolls I've seen are capped at 1,000 players and have $50 or $100 prize pools paying out the top 15 or 20 players. Something similar to this prize pool and pay out structure would be an ideal freeroll to play.
Tips on How to Beat Freerolls
As much as I'd like to say there are special tips and tricks that will help you master freerolls, sadly, I can't. They will play pretty much the same as a low stake tournament or sit n go with the exception being that the freeroll may be a touch looser. Other than that, you'll just have to rely on playing only your top hands, having some patience and a little bit of luck and you should be able to fare ok in freeroll tournaments.