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Online poker freerolls.

Freerolls, offered by pretty much every noteworthy online poker room nowadays, are extremely popular and their popularity seems to be on the rise.

In case you’re a rookie and you don’t not know what an online poker freeroll is, read on. If you know it already, skip the next paragraph.
An online poker freeroll is a multi-table tournament (MTT) that requires no buyin to enter. Most freerolls work based on poker points, VIP points or whatever else they’re called at the room you play at. Basically, you pay a certain amount of such poker points instead of real money, to enter the tourney. Since these poker points are usually obtained through real money play, they’re just as valuable as real money. (they can be viewed as a form of rakeback) Other freerolls let players in completely free, but they offer the possibility of rebuys for real money. Generally, a fairly big percentage of the participants take advantage of these rebuys, so the poker room will still end up earning money.

Anyway you look at it, freerolls are perceived as free money play, and that’ll give birth to a whole range of negative effects as far as play goes.

Why do poker rooms offer you rakeback? Because they need your presence at their tables, and in order to achieve critical liquidity, newly started poker rooms are willing to give you more than 100% rakeback on some (or all) of the raked hands that you play. If you consider yourself a reasonable poker player, you will not play a hand without rakeback.

In this respect, freerolls are a lot like the free money tables most poker rooms offer to entertain their guests who play for fun, or are merely taking a break from the stressful real-money tables. Just as it happens over at the play-money tables, play in freerolls tends to get chaotic, often teaching you that true poker strategy doesn’t pay. Because of the extremely loose nature of the play, and the fact that people consider it risk-free, you’ll often find yourself on the receiving end of an extremely bad play made dangerous by sheer luck, no matter how well you play, and how much poker-knowledge you pack. From this point of view, freerolls have the potential to mess up the play of a reasonably good poker player.

The other thing that will certainly happen in an online freeroll, is that you’ll be playing the whole spectrum of online poker players, from guys who never played a hand in their lives to the very best of sharks. The chaotic nature of the game will gradually subside, as you advance in the tourney, because of the fact that loose cannons and maniacs will have left the competition by the middle stages. It is this stage, that you’ll come face to face with those who truly know what poker is really about. The play will get more serious and thus more interesting, but considering the number of people taking part in these tournaments, you’ll still be at least a couple of hours away from being ITM. Now just consider the fact that you’ll spend around 3-4 hours playing in such a tourney. Even if you play extremely well, get lucky too, and end up in one of the money-places, you’ll still be earning something like $10 at the end of such a valiant performance. Is that really worth you time? Is the whole thing really a positive experience in regards to your play?

It is generally recommended, that if you get good enough - in time - to constantly reach the first break in these freerolls, then you should probably move on. The prize pool for freerolls, is usually anything from $5 to $500 (sometimes more) Considering that any of these tournaments will attract several thousand players, the prize share for the winners will be extremely small.

Paid-entry tournaments, on the other hand, will gather fewer players and the prize pools will be at least a few times bigger than those of freerolls. The poker room will often add more money to the pool to entice more players.

A prop deal is in fact a rakeback deal on steroids. You get rakeback percentages of over 100% but you will be tied by a few restrictions. Check out our prop deals section and prop articles to find out more about these restrictions. Many a losing player was turned into a long-term winner by the generous rakeback offered by these prop deals.

The play attitude that you’ll be faced with, in such tourneys, will be about as different from freerolls as real money ring tables are from play money ones.
No longer will anybody consider the play risk-free. Extreme maniacs and rookies will most probably not risk any real money, thus recklessness will be confined to a few pathological cases.

Certainly the excitement on your part will be quite different too, so I’d say, everything considered, opting for some low buyin ( 1-2 bucks) tournament instead of freerolls, makes a lot of sense.

- by Jim Jackson

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