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Free Poker and Freerolls

Free poker

The rise of online poker in the early 2000s was a gold rush for entrepreneurs and investors looking to take advantage of the new global platform for the game. The only problem? Enticing players to join their particular site. The answer came in the form of financial incentives for new sign-ups. Because online poker sites were making so much money they didn’t mind throwing a little bit of value back to new players in the form of freerolls (free tournaments) and free cash game tickets. Those incentives still exist and it’s possible to build a healthy bankroll with very little initial investment.

What is Free Poker?

"Free poker" is a broad term that can be used in reference to a number of things in the online poker world.

Nearly every online poker site offers a play-money version of its software so that players can play a few hands without worrying about losing any real money. This is often referred to as play-money poker but it can also be known as free poker.

Most of the time, however, free poker is usually referring to freerolls, which are free tournaments. It might come as a surprise to most people but poker sites do, indeed, give out free cash to players.

Poker sites use freerolls as a promotional tool to recruit new players or reward veterans for reaching some achievement such as playing a certain number of hands. The cost to poker sites to run freerolls is relatively low and free contests are a proven way to make people happy.

Sometimes poker sites also give out cash game tickets, which could also be considered free poker.

Finally there are promotions where poker sites will give you a small amount of cash just for signing up (no deposit necessary) but the trick is that you will actually have to make a deposit and play a certain number of hands to withdraw that cash.

As you can see free poker doesn’t really mean any one specific thing in online poker.

What are Freerolls?

Freerolls are free-to-enter tournaments.

They are one of the most common incentives that poker sites pack into sign-up packages for new players but they can also be used as rewards for loyal players.

Many freerolls offer limited rewards — for instance the entire prize pool can be worth just $100-$300 with first place only offering $10-$30 — but it’s one way to build a bankroll from absolutely nothing.

There have been some huge freerolls over the years, however, with a site called Paradise Poker ran heats to a $1 million freeroll in the mid-2000s.

More recently PokerStars also ran a number of $1 million freerolls although you had to qualify for them. The winners received tens of thousands of dollars so it’s fair to say it was a substantial reward.

Most freerolls draw thousands of players (because there is no risk) but there are a handful that offer small fields. Sometimes poker sites will run special freerolls for certain regions or even poker clubs. These events sometimes have a limited number of players, which makes them easier to win.

Poker sites quite often award their most loyal players with special monthly or years freerolls where the rewards can be very lucrative.

To make things slightly more confusing, freeroll is used in poker vernacular to describe anything where there is no risk to the player. For instance if you were all-in with ace-king of spades against an opponent with ace king of diamonds and the flop brought two spades you’d be “freerolling” because there is no possible way you can lose and you might win.

What Can I Win Playing Freerolls?

The most common reward for playing freerolls is cash but there are some other potential prizes.

Another one of the most common rewards is entry into bigger online tournaments or even live tournaments around the globe.

There are players over the years who have been lucky enough to freeroll themselves into something as prestigious $10,000 buy-in World Series of Poker Main Event.

Poker sites regularly offer freerolls to poker destinations like Las Vegas or the Caribbean so that players can both enjoy a free vacation and the chance to play a poker tournament.

Some poker sites award player points to freeroll winners. There are also some sites that award in-game rewards like custom avatars or skins.

Where Do I Find Freerolls?

The easiest way to gain access to a large number of freerolls is to sign up for a new poker site.

Poker sites are quick to hand out freerolls to new players in an effort to get them to sign-up and spend a decent amount of time on the site.

There’s nothing wrong with that, however, and you might as well take advantage of potential free cash. In fact players are incentivized to make small deposits on a number of sites instead of leaving all their money on one site and missing out on sign-up bonuses.

Freerolls don’t necessarily stop once you sign-up. You can scour the lobby on your poker site of choice and likely find more free tournaments to play.

Interestingly a decent way to pick up tickets to freerolls is to follow poker sites on social media. There are many poker sites that regularly give away tickets on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Finally another way to get freeroll tickets is to simply play a high volume of hands. Poker sites generally hand out freeroll tickets to players who grind heavily on their sites.

To summarize, if you’re looking for freeroll tickets you should:

  1. Sign up for a new poker site.
  2. Check the lobby frequently for freerolls specific to you.
  3. Play a decent amount of hands.
  4. Check social media of poker sites for free giveaways.

What Should I Do if I Win a Freeroll?

Playing more tournaments might be a good place to start.

Usually a freeroll won’t award you life-changing money so it’s not worth cashing out but it might allow you to play slightly higher games online.

If you’re finding success in small-stakes poker tournaments you might want to try slightly bigger ones.

There are players who might decide to dump all their freeroll winnings into a single tournament buy-in and attempt to win some big money. There’s nothing wrong with that since it is essentially free money but it’s also not the optimal way to build a bankroll.

It all depends on the players feelings about poker and how they like to play the game. If a player likes taking shots than this is one way way to do it with no risk.

On the other hand you could branch out and play cash games. Most freeroll winnings would go a long ways playing $.01/$.02.

What’s the Best Strategy for Playing a Freeroll?

Surprisingly you’ll probably want to utilize mostly the same strategy for playing a regular tournament.

Most poker players don’t take freerolls all too seriously so they’ll happily go all-on on every hand. If you actually show a little patience and wait for a decent hand you’ll be head and shoulders against the rest of the field.

On the other hand most freerolls are turbo-paced affairs so you’ll have to watch the blinds closely and make a move before your stack becomes to short to make much of a double up.

Freeroll tournaments are a great place for new players because the level of competition is generally quite low.