Here’s what I love about online poker: Freeroll tournaments. Oh, you’re not familiar? They’re great. Less structured than a standard purse tournament, VegasPokerPro.com freerolls are extremely popular and offer players thousands of prize pools to draw from. Some require a rake on a certain number of hands, but on many others there are no rakes and no requirements. So how should you approach these tournaments? Let’s explore some basic strategy, starting with the early hands.
Right away, things are different from a traditional tournament. Technically, you have nothing invested in a freeroll tournament. That said, you want to play more along those lines, and go strong early or move on to the next freeroll tournament. We’re not playing tight here, waiting for someone else to make the mistake. Also, everyone else is likely going to be playing aggressive, as well, so I wouldn’t bother bluffing. Someone is likely to call it, and you’ll bust out sooner than you should.
What you’re looking for is potential. Potential for the call and for the raise. Your goal is to carry these hands a little further than you would in a straight tournament. You want to soar to the top by doubling or tripling up your hands, or bust out early and try again in another tournament. So, in essence, when you are playing, you’re limping in, but you’re in control of your own limp. Make sense? It’s that perfect flop you’re after, and you’re willing to risk more in a freeroll to see it than you would at any other time. Less is at stake, so we play looser. Not exactly the best place to tighten your skills as a player, but it’s certainly a little wilder of a game, which is more fun for some players. Just don’t try to focus on reading people here. They don’t even know what they’re going to do themselves from decision to decision, so anyone from you to Daniel Negreanu isn’t going to nail them on a range from one hand to the next.
Here’s the other reason to play in this style early on – freeroll tournaments are notorious for lasting a long time for a relatively small payout. So either you’re a player early, or you’re probably wasting your time, even if you end up in the positive at the end. So don’t start raising blind or calling without thinking with 2, 7 off-suit, but play those small pairs as you would A, K in another tournament.