One of the best things about playing poker online is the availability of freeroll tournaments.  A freeroll is essentially what it says on the marquee—a tournament with no entry fee that awards prizes of some actual value, usually cash or player points.  Freerolls are a great way to get a feel for individual poker websites both in terms of their software interface but also the quality of opposition you’ll be facing.  That being said, you have to keep in mind that a freeroll does result in some degree of ‘self selection’ since most of the players attracted to freerolls are those who are also new to the site and in most cases inexperienced poker players.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that the freeroll your entering is really ‘free’.  It’s OK for a freeroll to have special conditions for participation (eg: limited to new customers) or prizes with value that aren’t cash or points such as qualifiers to live events or higher bankroll tournaments.  There’s nothing inherently disingenuous about having a tournament that requires player points as an entry fee but that condition should be clear in the sign up interface.  Really, a ‘freeroll’ that requires you exchange value to enter isn’t really ‘free’.  A site that makes this a practice might play it fast and loose with their other games and tournaments.


–LOOK FOR GOOD PLAYER PARTICIPATION:  People love to get ‘something for nothing’ and poker freerolls are no exception.  When playing in a freeroll make sure to find one that has good player participation.  A busy freeroll tournament often translates into a well trafficked site all across the board.  If you see a lot of freeroll entrants and it doesn’t look like the other traffic on the site is proportionate it could be a sign that they don’t have a good experience.  The flipside is also true—if it looks like a large percentage of freeroll players go on to become loyal customers of the site that’s definitely a very good sign about their popularity and level of trust.

–KEEP TRACK OF SCHEDULED FREEROLLS:  If you’re serious about playing in freerolls and hope to build a bankroll doing so you need to approach it with some degree of commitment.  Since there are freerolls of all types going on all the time at different sites it’s helpful to keep track of them on a calendar.  There are websites that do this but I’d suggest doing it yourself with a personal calendar that has enough room for notes and information.  My personal preference is using Google Calendar since it can be synced across devices and allows you to set reminders in advance so you won’t sleep through a scheduled event.

–REMEMBER THAT THE LEVEL OF PLAY WON’T BE HIGH:  There are exceptions but in most cases the quality of opposition you’ll be facing in a freeroll will be marginal.  Furthermore, you can expect the play to be very loose and aggressive.  We’re talking new, often inexperienced players that are playing with ‘house money’.  It’s a great idea to just sit and watch for the first hour.  This gives you a chance to get a feel for the game and more importantly gives the bottom feeder competition enough time to burn through their chip pile.  By doing this you’ll see the field get cut substantially and you won’t be having to try and figure out what a reckless and inexperienced player is doing.