Find the Freeroll

One game on the web unites everyone – the freeroll, and the best part is it won't cost you a penny

My personal tip would be to seek out the sites that reward new sign-ups with tokens and free entry into more exclusive tournaments.

My mission is clear: ‘Play as many tournaments as you possibly can in a week and keep a record of your winnings.’ Sounds like a normal week so far. ‘Anything you can get into for free is fair game – no matter how you qualify – but you can’t buy-in.’ Oh, now I understand. FREEROLLS! But what are they – a tempting carrot-on- a-stick designed to lure you to one of the hundreds of online poker clients, or a reward for loyal and regular players?

But where do you find these freerolls? Well, pretty much every poker client runs freerolls, so take a look at the tournament section of your favourite’s lobby and list the games by ‘buy-in’ – you’ll be looking for the one with ‘$0’ against it. Of course, as someone once famously said, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch, so you need to prepare yourself for some additional conditions. The most common of these is, quite simply, proof of prior custom. Quite understandably, poker sites don’t want cheap, oily, freeloading leeches bouncing from site to site, entering tournaments for free with no intention of ever parting company with a single cent. So a lot of free-to-enter tournaments actually require you to part with loyalty points you’ve accumulated in cash and tournament games.

Large Field

One of the key points to make here is that unless you’re in an invitational ‘new player’ freeroll, or one that you’ve entered using tokens or loyalty points, you will be facing a pretty large field. It’s not unusual to take a place in a field of 10,000 players, all fighting for the coveted top spots. This can lead to a lot of maniac play early on as people feel they have nothing to lose and attempt to double or treble through on the first couple of hands. After an hour or two and, having invested quite a bit of time, people start to calm down, but you should expect to be very selective about your starting hands if you want to live long enough to take anything from the game.

On the button

Thursday night sees me sign up for the Bet365poker $1,000 freeroll. This tournament allows 12,000 entrants with absolutely no additional conditions whatsoever. Bet365poker keeps freerolls structure pretty simple; they aren’t totally free to enter, you will simply be required to have played 100 raked hands in the 24 hours prior to registration They also occur every few hours so with a bit of forward planning it’s easy to get into as many of the free tournaments as you want. Thanks to my on-screen countdown clock, I’m hovering over the button when registration opens and it’s a wise move. Within seconds of registration opening, all 12,000 seats are taken (never underestimate the interest in these big freebies) and the tournament consists of over 1000 tables. Try fitting that in the Horseshoe, Mr Binion… The first and second prizes are $134 and $110 respectively, but with 260 places being paid, after the top four the distribution of dollars gets thinner than Posh Spice in a corset. In fact, the ‘winners’ in positions 260 up to 11 don’t even make $10 for their troubles.


PokerPlayer Grand Prix. Finished 17th and won nothing. Didn’t even have the pleasure of knocking out any editorial staff.


WPT Online. Went out on the bubble – aagghhhh!!. Shana,why hath thou forsaken me?

WEDNESDAY + three hours + 1,000 players + third place = $7.51!


2,926th out of 12,000 in a tournament. Two hours of my life wasted that I will never get back.


Paradise Poker Million Dollar Freeroll II. A-J runs into trip Queens place. Balls.

SATURDAY Turn a sign-up bonus token into second place for $196. Outstanding.


VC Poker Speed Freeroll. Fifth place out of 95 = $40.



After a string of lowly finishes with small financial reward I hit it big with my performance in a $5 tournament that I have free entry into thanks to one of the tokens I was given when I first signed up. I am, if I do say so myself, awesome and blast my way through a crowd of quality opposition to get down to heads-up with a similarly distinguished poker marvel. It’s a smashing battle, but I’m finally outdrawn when my pocket Fours hit a flopped set of Kings. He must be grinning like a squirrel on smack, as he walks away with $256 for a $5 buy-in. I, however, can beat that – $196 for NOTHING! And it gets better. The next day I knock 90 people out of a freeroll on VC to add $40 to my tally. I’m starting to like this freeroll malarkey!

Free advice

So what’s the moral of the story? Well, if you’re prepared to put in the hours and don’t mind every tournament you enter being a four-hour battle against tens of thousands of opponents, there IS money to be made with absolutely no investment necessary. However, if you’re a good enough player to win one of these tournaments, you’ll find it vastly more rewarding to pay your way into less populated tournaments with better payouts. If you’re a tournament novice, freerolls are a great way to get used to the way online poker clients work and suck up some valuable experience.

My personal tip would be to seek out the sites that reward new sign-ups with tokens and free entry into more exclusive tournaments. Sign up for the minimum, collect your tokens and turn those puppies into hard dollars before cashing out and moving on. That said, I still have such a warm glow in my trousers from turning my token into the best part of $200 that I’ll probably go and give that money back to them (along with some of my own, no doubt) on a cash table – something which you’d do well to avoid if you want to preserve the status of your free lunch.

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