Many professional poker players started their careers playing freeroll tournaments. PartyPoker is one of the main online poker sites regarding free-to-play tournaments, thanks to our ongoing Round the Clock Freerolls that award $2,500 in prizes daily.
Do you want to maximise your chances of walking away with some prize money from our Round the Clock Freerolls? Of course, you do, so keep reading to learn more about freeroll poker tournament strategy and how it differs from traditional poker tournament strategy.
What Is a Freeroll Poker Tournament?
Freerolls are poker tournaments that cost nothing to enter. They are an excellent way for you to learn the nuances of tournament poker and to be able to win cash and prizes without ever risking any of your bankroll; you may not even have a bankroll.
Our Round the Clock Freerolls shuffle up and deal from midnight BST, with new freerolls kicking off each hour. Each of our freerolls has a prize pool ranging from $50 to $200, which we pay out in Party Dollars, our flexible currency you can use to enter any real-money PartyPoker game.
What Kind of Player Enters Freeroll Tournaments?
Freerolls attract an eclectic of poker players from all walks of life. By their very nature – because they cost nothing to enter – they tend to attract players at the more recreational end of the spectrum, although seasoned grinders love trying to win something for nothing.
It should go without saying that the better or larger the prizes are, the more skilful players will enter. That said, freerolls tournaments almost always have ridiculously soft fields, which makes them a potential gold mine for players with the correct mindset.
How to Play the Early Stages of a Freeroll Poker Tournament
The craziness and looseness of your opponents is likely the first thing that stands out when you sit down and play in a freeroll. There will probably be several all-ins every hand for the first level or two. Players primarily do this wrongly for two reasons: they think they have nothing to lose, and they believe having twice the starting stack at the beginning of an MTT gives them a much better chance of winning.
While the first point is valid, the second is not so much. Take a look at any live updates from any tournament around the world, or check out the various PartyPoker tournament lobbies, and you will rarely find the champion, or even someone who reaches the final table, doubled their stack in the opening level.
With this in mind, the best way to approach the early stages of a typical freeroll is to play tight. Indeed, playing overly tight is a viable option because so many of your opponents will bust out during the opening two or three levels.
By all means, call a single all-in shove with powerhouse hands like aces and kings, but be prepared to fold all but the strongest of hands, especially if there are multiple players all-in. Mark our words, you will get ample opportunities to get your chips into the middle of the table as a substantial favourite further down the line.
The Middle Stages and the Bubble
It is time to start playing poker once you have survived the bloodbath that is the opening levels. You’ve probably noticed that almost half, if not more, of the entrants, have either busted or are sitting out. Now you can have some fun.
Start by watching the two players to your immediate left and right. Why? Because those to your left will be in the blinds when you have the button, and those to your right will have the button or a stealing opportunity when you’re in the blinds. Knowing how these players act can lead to some easy chip gains.
It is essential to keep tabs on the stack sizes as the tournament progresses, so displaying the chip stacks in big blinds is a good idea. Calling raises with small-to-medium pairs hoping to flop a set becomes mathematically unprofitable once the effective stack drops below 10-to-1.
Like in most poker tournaments, you should avoid tangling with the biggest stack at your table, especially if they have shown a tendency to push other players around. Similarly, avoid taking on super-short stacks that are priced in to call you unless you have a hand that plays well against their possible ranges. Calling several seemingly small all-in three-bets and losing can make you desperately short of betting tokens yourself.
Opponents with a similarly-sized stack to yours are the ideal candidates for putting pressure on. They have the most to lose if they take you on and lose. You could either eliminate them from the tournament after they have been patient enough to weather the initial storm, or you could decimate their stack to such a level that they are treading water until they inevitably bust.
Go For the Win Once the Bubble Pops But Apply Considered Aggression
Many years ago, I read an article from a well-known online poker tournament pro that essentially said you should play like you’re trying to burst the money bubble when the bubble is close. It went on to say that people are usually so desperate to reach the money places that they won’t allow you to bust because they will try folding their way to the money.
Tournament players, even freeroll grinders, cottoned onto this fact, but the bubble is still a great portion of any tournament to pick up much-needed chips. Again, take full advantage of anyone looking to limp into the money, especially those with similar stacks to yours.
Expect the floodgates to reopen once the bubble pops, as players go hell for leather to try and go big or go home. You’ll often find you can ladder up dozens of places in the payouts just by staying tight and avoiding unnecessary confrontations.
Once this second period of craziness ends, you should start playing for the victory. Most of a tournament’s prize pool is awarded to the top three finishers. The difference between a min-cash and reaching the final table is relatively minimal in tournaments with smaller prize pools and many entrants, like most freerolls.
With that in mind, you should continually, but in a controlled manner, apply aggression and pressure to give yourself the best chances of finishing in the top three and seeing a healthy return on your invested time. How you play at the final table of a freeroll or tips for playing heads-up in a freeroll poker tournament are subjects for another day!