A Guide To Play Freeroll Tournaments

Discuss the intricacies of the most popular format of them all

A Guide To Play Freeroll Tournaments

Postby DM101 » Tue Feb 23, 2010 2:11 am

You've just logged on to one your favorite poker sites to play a great $1000 freeroll. You register, just barely in time, to see that only 500 people are going to be playing in this freeroll! Great, this should be easy money, and with a $1000 prizepool you're sure to make out well.

Wrong. Unless you know how to play your cards and your opponents in this freeroll, you're going nowhere fast with any kind of money. Just because you're not up against the usual 3000 people doesn't mean your a shoe-in for the money. The top 40 may be all that pays. That means 8% of the people in this freeroll will be payed. That seems like a great percentage, huh? Well, look at it this way. 92% of the players in this freeroll are going to be walking away with nothing, some after 3 or 4 hours of play. In order to place in the top 8% of this tournament, you're going to need to know how to compensate for the type of play that is highly usual in a freeroll. Without this knowledge, you might win a few dollars in a freeroll now and then with a day of excellent cards, but you'll never make it to the top consistently.

First hand comes out. A-8 offsuit. Look like a good hand? Nope. Not this early in the freeroll. People are looking to double up fast to make their efforts worth while. The thing is, most of these people won't make it far in the tournament playing like that. Fold your A-8 off. We're looking for strong hands early on. Multitasking hands are the best for this early in a tourney. A-8 might let you pair up with an ace and be fairly confident with your kicker, but are you going to feel confident betting on an 8 with an ace kicker when there are plenty of cards that could come to beat you? Typically, their are a lot of fish in the beginning of a tourney, and depending where you're playing there may be a huge amount all the way through. If you hit your 8 on the flop and it is top pair, you may end up with the best hand through the river, but chances are you will not. You're going to have 3 types of people in this hand with you when you bet:

1. People who hit the 8. (top pair)
2. People who hit any other cards. (mid to low pair)
3. People with two painted cards in the hole hoping to hit their overpair.

The people with the two painted holecards may hit their hand or may not, but sometimes will stay in a hand til the end to see. So will the people with mid to low pair. Keep in mind I'm not saying always, but a fair amount of the time in the beginning of a large freeroll you'll see this happening.

Why am I telling you this? To stress the importance of strength in the cards you play preflop. Keep your hands strong with A-K, A-Q, K-Q, A-x suited, and any poket pair. With hands like these, you can hit either card you have and feel very confident with the kicker you have, except A-x suited. With A-x suited you'll want to be a little more cautious when you hit your Ace, but these hands are great when you hit your nut flush. The blinds are very low at this point compared to the size of your stack, so you may feel you can play almost any hand and still have a lot of chips. This is a big mistake a lot of people make. Most times it'll cost you more than you think due to pairing up and being beaten by a higher kicker or someone hitting an overcard. You've got to keep in mind that it's the beginning and anyone can have anything. Not only that, they'll play that anything because a lot are inexperienced.

Now that I've told you what I think is one of the most important things to maintain in the beginning of and throughout most of the freeroll, I'll tell you something that you need to discipline yourself to do (or should I say not to do) in the beginning of a freeroll.

All-Ins! Players make them left and right in the beginning. Just this in itself can make someone go on tilt enough to call with their mid pair and lose. Make sure you're not letting it get to you. Maintain your patience and do not call all-ins without the nuts or a great hand (two pair or better) unless you know you've most likely got the person beat. The only times I call an all-in early on is when I've seen a player going all-in quite frequently with only top pair. You'll know this because there will be weaker players calling with their midpair because the all-in player has them on tilt. Wait until you hit a hand hard (two pair or better) and for them to go all-in and call. This situation will change from poker game to game, but you'll know this person when you see him, and if you're patient you should be able to win a huge amount of chips from them. Otherwise, be patient. This phase will soon end, and you should be able to make a decent amount of chips off your strong preflop hands until things have settled.

Another thing to remember early on is not to try too many moves. People are much more willing to call high bets in the beginning than farther in, AND there is usually not even enough in the pot for it to be a good decision to make a move. Why make a 100 chip bet in order to try and win 30 chips off the flop. You may be representing the flop since your A-K didn't hit only to get to the showdown to be beaten by someone with a lousy pair of 3's. Better yet, why bet triple the blinds with nothing while on the blinds when no one has called and you're trying to steal the blinds. There's not enough to matter! You may be the king of moves in your neighborhood, but trying to use them early on can often get you into trouble. Let the cards be your guide in the beginning, once you get farther in begin to use your moves more often.

When you do hit your hand, make sure not to overplay it. If you have A-K and hit your king on the flop, but the flop is K-Q-J be careful. All to often I see people go all-in on a flop like this with top pair, top kicker. Their is a straight draw, and with 3 face cards on the flop it is very likely that a two pair is out their because a lot of people like to play things like K-J, Q-J, K-Q, A-Q, A-J, and such. The point is, this flop has a lot of room to give a lot of people better hands than your top pair. And in this situation, hitting two pair for you would mean anyone with a 10 has a straight. So, your hand is best at one pair, and this is not something you want to be playing really hard on a flop like this. Keep this in your mind!!

With all of that said, remember something else. A-A is not unbeatable! Don't hesitate to lay them down if you know their beaten. A lot of people will play them through because they can't lay them down even if they know they're probably beat. We as humans are curious in nature, but learn to discipline your curiosity.

Those are about all the tips I can give you for the beginning stages of a freeroll. I'll tell you straight out that I am NEVER knocked out in the beginning stages of a tournament (of course, bad beats happen), and it's because of those few tips.

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Re: A Guide To Play Freeroll Tournaments

Postby Afternoon » Tue Feb 23, 2010 12:03 pm


Nice tips.

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Re: A Guide To Play Freeroll Tournaments

Postby unknown415 » Sat May 15, 2010 3:42 pm

i jus read this...
o.o ...
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Re: A Guide To Play Freeroll Tournaments

Postby LunarWolfspirit » Sun May 16, 2010 1:36 pm

Evidence that Tournys and Cash games utilize different philosophies :)
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Re: A Guide To Play Freeroll Tournaments

Postby teamloyang01 » Tue Aug 17, 2010 10:08 pm

*bump* great tips!
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Re: A Guide To Play Freeroll Tournaments

Postby open&close » Mon Nov 28, 2011 12:07 am

thanks for the tips :D
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Re: A Guide To Play Freeroll Tournaments

Postby dilkkz » Fri Dec 09, 2011 6:54 am

great tips!
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Re: A Guide To Play Freeroll Tournaments

Postby sporteepringle01 » Wed Dec 05, 2012 5:12 pm

When you join tournament, be wary of the schedule. You might find yourself joining something that no longer exists.
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