All About Poker Freerolls

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In simple terms, a “poker freeroll” is any poker tournament where the players are not required to pay an entry fee. Poker freerolls can provide the fastest and easiest way to build a bankroll risk-free. They are a fun introduction to tournament style poker, offering an opportunity to practice under true competitive conditions against real players, as opposed to tutorials or simulations found on many poker web sites.

Various Types of Freerolls

Unfortunately, not all poker freerolls are created equal, so it behooves a new player to shop around a bit and pick the one(s) that offer the greatest reward for the least hassle. An unrestricted freeroll, for example, will allow anyone to play. It may require registration at a poker room or on a web site. Some software might also have to be downloaded. Otherwise, there should be no barrier to entry, and certainly no cost.

By contrast, restricted freerolls may have some conditions which must be met prior to entry. Commonly these will come in the form of a certain number of hands that must be played per day or a threshold level of loyalty points accumulated. Many freerolls are only for newcomers. Others are just for VIPs. There may be deposit requirements, too. Any tournament where redemption of points is needed to buy-in is not a true freeroll. “Free” should mean free of any cost at all.

Another way of sorting out poker freerolls is by the prizes that they offer. Cash freerolls are quite common on the Internet. They are usually promoted by announcing the total prize pool, such as “$1,000 Omaha Freeroll.” The amount quoted will typically refer to the value of all prizes combined, and the top prize will often be half that amount or somewhat less. Anyone making it to the final table should finish “in the money.”

Other poker freerolls involve no cash at all. They may offer merchandise as prizes, from personalised poker chips to iPods, laptop computers, and large flat-screen televisions. Some put up ocean cruises, air travel or event tickets for the winners. And an increasing number provide free entry into other tournaments, especially land-based contests, as the top prizes.

It pays to be a bit wary of any poker freeroll that pays out in “bonus cash” with restrictions attached. Only a careful reading of the rules will indicate whether there are any catches or hidden clauses, such as play-through minimums, game limitations, or usage deadlines.

Why Play in Freerolls

Participating in freeroll poker tournaments is an excellent way to sharpen one’s card playing skills without wagering any money. In that sense, it is risk free, although the time involved and any opportunity costs, such as missing out on other tournaments, should be considered before signing up.

Poker freerolls provide a way to experience different poker tournament formats, such as sit-and go, elimination, and shoot out. A dedicated Texas Hold’em player may enter freerolls to “test the waters” of Omaha or Razz. It has been said that professional poker player Chris Ferguson once set a challenge for himself to build a bankroll from scratch playing only in freerolls to start; he reportedly ended up winning some $20,000.

Players should note that the qualifiers within freeroll tournaments typically have no cash payouts. Some offer a “re-buy” option for cash if a player falls out early and wants to reenter. It is important to be on time for freeroll events, too, just as it is for regular tournaments. Seats are not held for latecomers.

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