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Tournament Poker: Freerolls
By Loki Luchs

Freeroll tournaments are rare, but well worth the trouble of finding. As a non-celebrity, we usually won't have the opportunity to play for a charity or be given an entry-fee for wearing website logos. However, there is still money to be made! Most internet sites have freerolls available to the public. While the prizes are usually meager, the experience a novice can get from these tournaments can be invaluable.

What you will generally encounter in these tournaments is an endless sea of bad players. In the first hour, you will see thousands of people eliminated by pushing when they have a pair of twos pre-flop. Due to this, it’s never a bad idea to play a tight-aggressive game in these tournaments. Another approach is to play a very loose game, in the hopes of accumulating a large chip stack. While I normally advocate the strength of the TAG, for this format, with thousands of players throwing their tournament life on the line with QJ off-suit early on, it may actually be wiser to play as many hands as possible and try to find a winner. There will almost always (early on) be someone to pay you off, so there’s a huge advantage to being willing to experiment.

Many new players don't recognize the value of a freeroll. It can be a lot of work to play in a tournament for hours, only to end up winning a few dollars if you make the money. For new players, however, this is a chance to improve your tournament game, take a free shot at making some money, and most importantly have fun! An excellent example of how this type of tournament can be turned into a profitable venture is Chris “Jesus” Ferguson’s experiment in 2007. Beginning by only playing freerolls, he attempted to turn a private account of $0 into a bankroll of $10,000. Well, as a player without any money, how else can you start building a bankroll? It was only after he had won enough money on the freerolls to appropriately bankroll himself that he moved to the cash games. While only a handful of us have the skill that the former champ does, the beauty of freerolls is that in gaining the experience of big tournaments, you risk absolutely nothing!

One of the latest additions to the free-roll circuit is the Professional Poker Tour. This is a cash tournament that invites poker professionals, celebrities, and WPT winners in separate events. The money is paid for by the airing of 5 shows for all of the events. Due to the ridiculously fierce competition, this is arguably the single hardest event in poker. There are no fish in this event, so we get to see players at their absolute best. Bragging rights aside (and believe me, those are worth their weight in gold), players don't often have the opportunity the ability to run the complicated maneuvers and stone cold bluffs without the fear of losing a huge entry fee. This not only makes for good television, it also allows professionals a testing ground for maneuvers they've conceived and perform high-risk plays that they may not otherwise take. This tournament was one of the most informative on television because it showed the contrasting styles of play throughout the tournament, as opposed to just in final table action.

Weekly Tournaments

Online poker tournaments can be life altering events. Each week, many of the biggest card rooms around the net offer up everything from 100K tourneys to million dollar prizes. Sure, many enter and the odds are thin, but SOMEBODY has to win and why can't that somebody be you? Check out Bovada Poker and take your shot at something huge, like winning enough loot to buy a Ferrari or pay your house off!

Tips and Advice

Introduction to Tournament Poker - Loki covers everything from the buy in to prize payouts!

Cash Games vs. Tournaments - Hank Cashman talks about the difference between the two and notes that just because you're good at one doesn't mean that you'll win at the other.