Poker – Freeroll Mentality

If you play poker (Texas Hold'em at least), you have probably heard of freerolls. These are tournaments where players can join absolutely free and the winners get prizes. These can sometimes be cash, and sometimes just play money or tickets to other tournaments. In any case, the point behind them is that you can play them at no cost, and yet you can still win something. Through this article I want to look at bit at what the freerolls are, how they work, and why they are a pretty bad deal for someone that is just learning to play poker (and can also sometimes be a great deal for the learning experience). A way to look at this article is as a preparation one, showing what is going to happen within the tournaments and what should be expected as a result.

Getting In To Freerolls

How to get in to freerolls depends on where you plan to play. If you are doing online games, it is usually pretty simple. Most game clients for online poker have areas under the tournament section solely for freerolls. If not, you can also check in the free or cash tournament sections and organize them by cost (freerolls will always be listed as the lowest amount on cash listings, being that it is free). From here, simply join in and you are good to go!

It is important to note that with online freerolls, there are two different types: some are open to everyone and others are open to only certain people. Those that are open to everyone can still have caps on how many people can sign up and join, so getting there early on is important as you could otherwise miss them. For the others, there are different things that may need to be done in order to gain entrance, such as:

  • Winning a satellite game (a game that rewards you with a ticket for another game)
  • Make a deposit on the site (some require deposits within a certain period, such as over that month, and others only require a single deposit to be eligible for every freeroll of this type. This will just depend on the site)
  • Be a member of a certain site. Usually with this you will get a manual entry (or at least a manual ticket) to the tournament. Different sites have different methods of handling this, so you will just need to read the rules of that site)
  • Input a password. Some places have public facing websites with passwords for their tournaments. These can be hosted on places like Facebook, as well as personal websites and such

As you can see, there are a lot of different freeroll types available. If you are not part of any poker sites and have no interest in them, the number you are going to be eligible to enter will be drastically reduced. The more places you are a part of, the more tournaments you are going to be able to join!

Cashing Out

If you win freerolls and build up your balance, that does not necessarily mean that you are going to be able to cash out your funds. This is really hit and miss, and it depends on the site that you are playing on. Some will allow you to cash out your winnings once you hit a minimum balance (such as $50), whereas others will make you “play through” the money, so to speak, in which you have to join cash games or pay tournaments and play through all of the money that you want to cash out before you can do it. This is important to understand because all too often people will get caught up in thinking that they have it made and their winnings will soon be in their pocket. This is not always the case.

If this is something that bothers you, the best plan is to read the website you are playing at in order to see if you can find any withdrawal rules. If you do not find anything (or the website is just tough to navigate with regards to this), you can also contact their support. Usually support will be more than willing to help you, and they generally respond pretty quickly.

Understanding Player Mentality

Now that we have gotten the basics out of the way, let us move on to player mentality in freerolls. This is where things start to go downhill when it comes to playing poker and dealing with other players.

Just like with anything else, it makes sense that when there is less on the table, people care about things a lot less. Poker is no different in this aspect, and it is pretty noticeable. One of the first things you will notice when joining freerolls is that people try to bluff pretty often, and they love to go all in. While this would not be normal behavior on cash games, for example, this happens all the time with freerolls because there is just not any risk. If they win the hand, they get closer to building up a bankroll for winning a cash prize in the tournament. If they do not win, they are knocked out faster so they have saved time and lost nothing in the process. In order to win these tournaments, you will have to make your way through these players, and it makes playing “properly” that much more difficult, being that people can bluff their way and still win against you due to lucky streaks.

Even if we exclude the game play itself, there are also problems with the way people actually act. Something we see a lot in freerolls that we do not see elsewhere is a lot of hostility against those who beat someone in a hand. I can not count the number of derogatory remarks I have seen, nor the number of threats I have seen being thrown around due to a lost hand. Even though the game is absolutely free to play, people get pretty upset over not winning. Being put down, talked about and threatened appears to just be a normal part of the game (but that does not make it right, and you should not be taking part in that type of behavior. It is a game; treat it as such!).


Playing poker freerolls can be a fun way to get involved with the game and win some prizes without taking any risks in the process, but it can also lead to bad play styles and a bad mentality when it comes to dealing with the other players. If you are able to easily separate yourself from both of these and just enjoy the game for what it is, you can get a bit of enjoyment from it. Just try not to get sucked in to the negative parts of it, and even more important do not play in to making it worse! And if you are more interested in actually learning the “proper” ways to play poker, you are probably better off playing in real paid tournaments or cash games. While it is all still poker, these games will help better understand the skill part instead of solely the luck aspect (which, for all intents and purposes, is all that the freerolls are).


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