Freeroll Tournament Strategy

Freeroll Tournaments are one of the most popular tournaments found online. Free to join and on some sites, thousands of dollars in prize pools to win. While many poker sites require a certain number of raked hands or promotional points to participate in their freerolls, some sites such as Royal Vegas run freerolls that have no requirements at all. Just show up and play. (Hint: Royal Vegas also has a $10 no deposit bonus!) As Freerolls abound, they represent a great chance for you to practice different styles and ideas. Below is one that I have found to work from in online freerolls.

Early Stages of the Tournament

Most tournament strategies note that you should be very tight early on to avoid busting out to weak hands that hit miracle flops. In this freeroll strategy, we are going to look to use those fish to build a good stack early or go home. The theory here is that since you have $0 invested, and large freerolls can last a very long time for a relatively small payout, we want to become a factor fast or move on to the next freeroll! Granted we do not play any two cards, but play rather loose if you can limp in with suited connectors, small pairs and what not. Your goal is to hit a beatiful flop and double or triple up.

If you are dealt a premium pair, tend to try to get all of your chips in preflop, as you will probably get at least one caller. Players who would throw all their chips in with Qx suited preflop are much more likely to fold post flop if they do not get a couple of their suit on the board.

Again, our goal is to build a nice stack or bust out. Do not bother bluffing, as it will get called in a freeroll during these early stages. Just play hands that have huge payoff potential, and either make them pay off or move on.

Middle Stages

After about an hour, we can safely say we are in the middle stages. The blinds have gone up several times, a good half of the field is gone. You should either have an above average stack at this point or be gone yourself. If you are average or below, you might consider staying with the early stages strategy and look to double up ASAP. However, if you are an above average stack it is time to change gears. Pressure the small stacks and avoid the large stacks. You should be either raising or folding at this point in the tournament, as the blinds are getting high enough enough that calling is both weak and expensive. This strategy follows along the same lines as typical middle stage play when you have a big stack.

One of the best times in the tournament to bluff is during the middle stages, because those small stacks will be trying to blind their way to the money. They will fold just about any hand to pressure in their quest to not finish on the bubble. The closer to the money we get, the more pressure we apply to the short stacks. One thing to avoid is a short stack that makes a significant bet ahead of you or goes all-in. They will almost always have a solid if not premium hand. Pressure them when they limp in or have yet to act, but if they show aggression and you have nothing, do not double them up!

Finally, avoid the large stacks unless you have a huge hand yourself. By this time, you will have the reputation as a loose player, and are more likely to get called and knocked out by a larger stack. If you get a premium hand of course, this works perfectly, as you will have a good chance at getting called and doubling up. Again, raise or fold, avoid large stacks, pressure the small stacks.

Late Stages and Final Table

If you have not already turned on the aggression, you are running out of time. Every player that gets knocked out generally means more money in everyone elses pocket, so short stacks will be playing tighter than ever. If you are short stacked yourself, look to go all in and double up with the first Ace, King, suited connectors or small pair. The final table is more about chip strength than it is about card strength. Limping is too expensive unless you are looking to trap someone for all of their chips. Raise/Fold and look to limp and trap with big hands. At this point in the tournament, hands will rarely ever go to showdown, and other players will be playing very aggressively as well. Look to trap more than ever. Big cards and pairs are great hands, draw hands are rag hands. Pressure short stacks, and do not let them keep their blinds. If you get a chance to call a small stacks all in heads up, and his all in is less than 10% of your own stack, call with any two cards. The chance to put them on the rail outweighs any card advantage they have at that point.

If you are fortunate enough to get down to a heads up battle for first place, look to raise almost every hand, no matter what your cards if the other player is the type who will fold on a regular basis. If he plays back you can fold your junk, but many times the opponent will practically blind themselves out, wilting under the relentless pressure. You should feel much less pressure, because you will keep in mind that you have invested $0, you are already in the money, and aggressive play is the best method of winning heads up!

Like playing tournaments? Be sure to also check out our Multi-Table Tournament Strategy and Single Table Tournament Strategy articles!