Many successful online poker players have never had to make a deposit into an online poker room. How is this actually possible? Through playing freeroll tournaments!
What is a freeroll tournament I hear you ask? Well, freeroll tournaments are one of life’s few chances to actually win something for nothing. Some online poker rooms regularly hold freeroll tournaments. One of their current promotions at Full Tilt Poker lets new players take their shot at $35,000 worth of ring game and tournament tickets every month without having to risk a penny. This may sound too good to be true, but there isn’t a catch. It really is possible to win real money playing online poker freeroll tournaments without having to risk a single dime of your own money.
But you’ve been warned. While it’s not hard to win money by playing freeroll tournaments, it can be hard turning those winnings into anything substantial. Cashing in freeroll tournaments will often yield a payout as small as just a few dollars. So it can be very challenging to try and build a significant online poker bankroll from freeroll tourneys alone, hence the reason you need to adopt a “grinding” mentality.
Grinding Sit & Gos and Cash Games once you’ve won some money from freerolls.
To start with, play the lowest stakes cash games available on the poker site. If you win $5 in a freeroll tournament, you can use that money to play $0.01/$0.02 ring games. Since players at these stakes tend to be generally pretty awful, one could conceivably build a $5 bankroll into several hundred dollars provided they are very disciplined and run good to start with. Obviously, this is not practicing very good bankroll management, but you can afford to be a bit more aggressive with your bankroll since you’re playing with the poker site’s money.
Another way to build up your online poker bankroll a little quicker is to utilize your freeroll winnings is to roll the dice and play sit & go tournaments. All of the top online poker rooms offer low buy-in SNG tourneys throughout the day. For example, at Full Tilt, they have tournaments with buy-ins that start as low as $0.50 per tournament. These can be a great way to turn a small investment into a bankroll that gives you something to work with, although SNGs tend to have more variance than grinding cash games. So if your first couple of gos at playing sit and gos aren’t very successful, try not to be too hard on yourself. Remember, even the best players like Phil Ivey and Daniel Negreanu go through losing stretches in tournaments.
Playing freerolls to kickstart your bankroll to then move on to sit n gos and ring games is the path that many choose to take. The only downside to playing freeroll tourneys is that a lot of freerollers are chasing the same “free money” as yourself. When you’re playing at some of the largest poker sites, freeroll tournaments attract thousands of players. To try and combat this, many poker sites require players to exchange a certain number of “points” to gain entry into a freeroll. Usually, these points are earned at the real-money tables on their site.
Of course, in order to play in real money games, you will either need to make a deposit or win money through a freeroll. One option is to consider making the minimum deposit and playing micro stakes games to accumulate a lot of poker points. Once you have enough player points, you can start playing in some of the more “exclusive” freeroll tournaments without hoards of freerollers who are all competing for a small cash prize. With fewer entrants, theoretically they should be easier to win, as well. But this is outside the scope of this article given we’re focusing on building a bankroll from nothing. Besides freerolls you will also want to look into whether the poker room offers a no deposit bonus to new players as a way to draw attention to the site.