Monday, February 11, 2008

Anatomy of a Freeroll

If you've read some of my previous posts, you know how I feel about play money games. With nothing at risk, you can't expect the table to take the game seriously. You should expect constant all-ins and devote chasers. Play money's more affluent cousin is the freeroll—a tournament granting free entry yet awards cash! I find the freeroll has a playing style all of its own.

Entrance into these games are usually tied new players, affiliation with some organization that has a mutually beneficial relationship with the poker room, or a reward program for regular members. The tournaments usually features hundreds of players competing for relatively small payout. But hey, you get what you pay for.

The desire to place is much higher than play money games, but the expectation of winning is low because of the huge field to outlast. Most players make an early gambit for chips with hopes of quadrupling up before the blinds raise or busting out before they commit too much of their time.
It is time that is at risk here, not money. That is why the level of play is a sliding scale for freerolls. Early in the tournament people perform like they are in a play money game and as it progresses they get more and more serious. If you are going to lose, you want to lose early. To reach the money you have to outlast at least 90% of the field and play for hours. By that time everyone is playing like they have money at risk, because they do, just not their own.

At a freeroll final table I find people play better than they would a regular cash tournament. These players are not the Phil Iveys of the world or they wouldn't waste their time on a freeroll. Their normal MO is probably too conservative to make a living at poker. During the freeroll endgame, they are focused on winning and as aggressive as a great player needs to be—because they don't fear losing. Nothing to risk, money and respect to gain. If these players could harness that feeling all the time they would be pros. An unyielding drive to win without the fear of loss is trait of a successful rounder.


  1. Nice site - wanna swap links?

    I'll be back to read more no matter what