Free poker games, real money prizes: freerolls
Freerolls are poker tournaments which are free to participate in but do have a real money prize pool. They provide an opportunity for beginning online poker players to build a bankroll without ever having to make a real money deposit. If you start to ask around on the poker forums for the best strategy to tackle freerolls as a means of building your bankroll a lot of people will tell you to start flipping burgers instead.
Indeed you won't earn the amount of dollars per hour by playing freerolls that you would earn while flipping burgers, so in a sense this is very sound advice. However, if you do not want to invest any of your own money in online poker (most likely under some psychological pressure from your direct environment) then you're restricted to playing free games. And if you play online poker with play money for fun and to learn the game anyway, then why not do the same with a chance of making some real money instead? So let's see what options there are to start your climb to the nosebleed stakes without ever having to deposit!
Types of freerolls
There are several types of freeroll tournaments which you can find at online poker rooms. For some freerolls you have to qualify by playing a certain amount of real money games. Although these tournaments can be very profitable and sometimes have a first prize of over $10.000, they are not interesting for our purpose as you can't qualify without a bankroll. Then there are the normal freerolls in which everyone can participate and which are scheduled at a certain time of the day. My favourite back in the day when I played freerolls however were the freeroll sit & go's, where you compete with nine other players for a share of 10 cents as soon as the table is filled up. This type of freeroll can be found at Everest Poker.
What to look for in freerolls
There are several aspects that make one freeroll more interesting than the other. Obviously the size of the price pool is the first thing to come to mind, but not without considering the number of players battling it out with each other. The bigger the ratio of $/player the more interesting a freeroll will be. Or in other words: how bigger the prize pool and how smaller the player field size the better. Furthermore you would want those freerolls to run regularly so you can give it another shot when you bust out of one.
Freerolls by poker room
has single table and multi-table freeroll sit & go's running throughout the day which are very fun to play. These are limit hold'em games. The single table tournaments (the 'Shasta' tables) offer a $0.10 prize pool with 3 out of 10 places paid (5c, 3c and 2c). You can easily play multiple of them at the same time, although there might be a short waiting list at peak hours. The multi-table sit & go's offer a $0.60 prize pool divided over 10 out of 120 players. On top of these sit & go's Everest Poker also offers qualifiers to the bankroll builder freeroll. This nl hold'em freeroll resembles the astronomer/round 2 system of PokerStars, except for the fact that player fields tend to be smaller. [read full review]
offers $50 freerolls three times a day with a maximum of 1000 entrants. With 100 places in the money these tournaments will give you a decent shot at winning some real money. [read full review]
offers 6 freerolls every day. Of these freerolls there are 5 50 freerolls in nl hold'em (2x) razz, PL omaha and omaha H/L. Usually there are several thousands of entrants with only 130 places paid. There is also a 200 freeroll in nl hold'em: 10.000 entrants and 130 places paid
[read full review]
Full Tilt Poker
does offer freerolls with a direct real money prize pool. There are freerolls open to everyone and country restricted freerolls. The open $100 freerolls pay 27 places and usually fill up with 2700 entrants, which doesn't give you a high chance of winning any money. They run several times a day with different games (no limit hold'em, omaha, HORSE and razz). The country specific $100 freerolls ($250 for US residents) have a smaller field size and therefore offer more value when playing them. These run once a day for the different countries. [read full review]
offers a 75 and a 100 freeroll in no limit hold'em every day with around 3000 entrants and 130 places paid. Other freerolls require you to have plaid 5 raked hands in the last 24 hours and are therefore not interesting for the purpose of starting with a $0 bankroll. [read full review]
does not offer freerolls with a direct prize pool but offers daily qualifiers (the daily astronomer freerolls) to a weekly $2000 freeroll. The fields of these freerolls are huge (at least 5000 players) while only 72 players receive a ticket in the qualifiers and around 1000 players are in the money in the weekly round 2 tournament. I would only recommend these freerolls if you want to give yourself a hard time winning any real money with freerolls and want to test your patience to the fullest. [read full review]
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