Recently, I conducted an experiment with regards to online poker freerolls. The results were rather interesting, and suggest a course of action that players should take when participating in online poker freerolls.
Freerolls are, of course, multi-table tournaments that have no entry fee, but award prizes such as cash, an entry into another tournament, or sometimes just a poker book. These tournaments draw a lot of players, mostly those who havenâ€™t risked any of their own money to play online poker. These players are hoping to cheaply win some cash for a starting bankroll, but making the money can be quite challenging. The reason why freerolls are so challenging to cash in is simply the nature of the freerolls, there is no risk to the player. If you lose, the only thing you lose is the time you spent playing in the freeroll. This makes the action very loose, as players try to build massive chip stacks in a very short period of time. It is very common to see multiple players going all-in on the very first hand of play. Some players will even go all-in with hands like 9-7 or 6-2 on the very first hand. This makes the game tough on players who play a solid game, but who like to visit the flop while the blinds are still cheap.
My experiment that I conducted was to see how far I could get into a freeroll by folding every single hand except AA or KK, or any hand where I felt I held a significant advantage in, namely a strong hand in late position, with only callers before me, no raisers. The results would have been staggering had I not been expecting them.
I registered for a freeroll shortly having dinner. The freeroll consisted of slightly more than 3000 participants, a large playing field full of loose and reckless players. On the very first hand I was in second position and immediately folded the hand, which was K-9. Sure enough one player pushes all-in, another calls him, and another, until there are five people, more than half the table, all-in. The hands turn over and the best hand among the five is A-6. The board comes out and the player who called all-in with 10-8 was the winner, immediately quintupling up.
I continued with my experiment, folding every single hand, as I did not pick up any hand or find myself in the sort of situation that fulfilled my requirements. After folding for 56 minutes nonstop, shortly before the first break, I found myself in the sort of situation I was looking for. I was dealt A-Q on the button, and the under the gun player called. The player after him called, and then action was folded around to me. I immediately pushed all-in, wanting to force the limpers to make a decision, knowing that I had them overpowered with my hand. I was forcing a confrontation, and I got it. The big blind called my all-in, as did one of the limpers, so I got all my money in with the best hand and only two callers, exactly the situation I had been looking for. The board came out and gave the player with J-10 a pair of tens to eliminate me.
I had been tempted to fold this hand, but I knew it was the type of situation that fulfilled my starting requirements, so I wanted to see where it would end. After being eliminated I looked at the tournament lobby. More than three thousand players participated in the freeroll, and by folding every hand, I had made it to 811th place.
What does this say about freerolls? It says that you should play ultra-tight, only playing the best hands, not trying to bluff at all, and play an extremely patient game. By doing this, you will find yourselves making it deep into the tournaments, and as long as you donâ€™t get afflicted by bad luck, you should have a good chance of making the money.
Try this experiment out for itself and see where it gets you. Once you experience the results for yourself you will understand firsthand the volatile nature of the freeroll and the counters one must use to succeed.