Freerolls often attract a huge number of players and are sometimes easily dismissed as 'crapshoots', where only the luckiest player wins. That's not the case. Join us as we count down five top tips that will give you a better chance of doing well in freerolls and giving that poker bankroll a much-needed kick-start!
Recognise your competition
The majority of the field in freerolls will be players that are new to poker or haven't had much experience in multi-table tournaments. As such, they are likely to make very common, major mistakes that you should capitalise on (see below).
Always remember the opposition you are up against and don't try to overcomplicate things. Solid ABC poker will almost always be the best strategy to employ. In short, don't play too many hands, don't bluff too much and make sure you get maximum value when you hit a big hand.
Tight is right
Playing too many hands is the biggest error that a large percentage of 'freeroll players' make. It's understandable why this mistake occurs so frequently; nobody signs up to PokerStars with the intent of sitting back and folding hand after hand – they want to be in on the action!
When you have more experience as a poker player you can definitely open up your game, play more hands and still make it profitable. However, in freerolls it pays to take a more measured approach. Other players in the tournament will be raising and calling with weak hands such as low Aces, unsuited connectors like 8-6 and all sorts of trash. If you can hold back and only play good hands – like A-T and better, suited connectors and pocket pairs – then you will immediately have a big advantage and be more likely to win pots and do well in the freeroll.
Don't bluff much
It's very difficult to make people fold decent hands in a freeroll. As they haven't cost a dime to enter a lot of players won't have any fear of busting out – after all, they aren't losing anything if they do get KO'd. Therefore, it's a bad strategy to try and bluff them.
The only circumstance where a bluff might work is in a situation where it's very obvious we could be holding a strong hand. For example, if there are four spades on the board and you suspect your opponent doesn't have a flush, or if there's an obvious straight possible, such as when the board reads 6-7-8-9-K. Maybe your opponent will give you credit in these spots and make a fold, but overall your strategy should be much more focused on getting value for big hands more than it is getting bluffs to work.
Recognise when the game changes
When hundreds or thousands of players are in the early levels of a freeroll you will see tons of gambling and reckless play. Yet if you can navigate through those choppy waters – using the strategies listed above – then there is a definite point in the tournament where the remaining players start to change strategies and focus on playing for the win. This will usually take place around the bubble so watch out for it.
Once you feel as if the other players are tightening up in an attempt to make the cash, or the final table, you can now bluff with a higher frequency and expect it to be successful. Also look to steal the blinds a lot more, especially from those players you've noted are playing cautiously in an attempt to move up the pay ladder.
Spend your winnings wisely
Winning a large-scale freeroll on PokerStars is not easy. Navigating through a field of thousands will take both skill and a sprinkling of luck. But let's say you do it and scoop in a nice cash prize – here's where the hard work really begins.
Getting a free cash injection into your PokerStars bankroll is a tremendous bonus but you have to use it wisely. Make sure you play in games that suit your bankroll and where you are likely to have an edge on the competition. If you try to spend it all at once chasing a huge score then the chances are high you'll be back to playing freerolls in no time!