Once you’ve played a substantial number of free Texas Hold'em games, the next step is to move up to freerolls. The first thing you should know, however, is that these free poker tournaments aren't the same as other forms of free poker; usually when you play Texas Hold Em for free at non-freeroll tables, you’re playing online poker for play money. Freerolls, in contrast, offer players an opportunity to win real money prizes.
Ultimately it helps to play Texas Holdem for free in freerolls because you learn tons about making it to the final table in real money Texas Holdem tournaments. Sure, other free Texas Holdem games are useful because they provide new players a lot of free Texas Hold em experience in their own right. But, at the end of the day, their players are only playing for entertainment and practice and present no real challenge.
As a result, these games don’t build up the other half of the Texas Hold em tournaments equation: Nerve. Losing in them means nothing; you walk away neither richer nor poorer, so you really have no incentive to step up your game when you’re having your lunch handed to you.
Lunch-handing does in fact happen to everyone in real money poker tournaments. So—after you’ve learned to play poker online one hand at a time and can play online poker play money poker tables down to the last man—it’s absolutely essential you learn to keep your cool under pressure. Otherwise, you risk going on tilt in high-stakes Texas Holdem tournaments and losing everything.
This is something we here at AceHoyle.com wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies. So we’ve put together the following section to lead you through the ins-and-outs of freerolls. Hopefully by reading it you’ll be able to use freerolls to gain the experience needed to play in real Texas Hold em tournaments. Then, you’ll be able to go after some big pots and work your way into the pros circle.
Of course, we can’t promise you won’t occasionally lose your cool in these games. But we can promise you won’t lose your shirt. After all, the beauty of all free Texas Holdem games played in a freeroll structure is there’s absolutely no risk; they essentially give you the chance to play poker for real money without requiring you ante up a cent.
Most Online Poker Freeroll Tournaments Aren’t Actually Free
As we mentioned above, the major difference between real money poker sites’ freerolls and their other types of free Texas Hold em games is their freerolls feature real money purses and tournament invites as prizes. But we also need to warn you that the term “freeroll” can be a little misleading. You see, despite what their name suggests, online poker freerolls aren’t actually free poker tournaments, but promotional events you have to earn your way into.
The truth is online poker freerolls only got their name because, unlike real money poker tournaments, their prize money isn't comprised of player entry fees. Instead, their pots usually consist of sponsor contributions from the House and several smaller advertisers.
Typically anyone who wants to play poker online in freerolls has to accumulate a given number of comp points first. The number of points you have to earn, whether you can buy them, etc. is completely up to the casino. But the one uniting factor is that operators only awards points to people who play poker for real money.
The reason casinos never award points to those who only play Texas Hold Em for free in online poker play money games is they don’t profit unless a game’s hands are raked. So naturally they want all their players to upgrade from free Texas Hold'em games to playing poker with real money—and fast.
Freerolls are one way they attempt to do this, and often enough, it works. At the end of the day, then, although it might sound like freerolls give you a chance to play free Texas Hold Em games for real money you aren’t actually getting to play Texas Holdem for free at all; the House wins with every raked hand no matter how you fare, and if you want to get into online poker freerolls, you have to play plenty of raked poker hands.
And yet, on the upside, the casinos are rewarding you with points you can use to enter online poker freerolls and win back your losses. So, while most real money poker sites' freerolls aren’t as “free” as free Texas Hold Em games and other play money online poker games, they’re darn close.
Occasionally brick-and-mortar and online casinos will allow players to play poker online in their freeroll poker tournaments just for making real money deposits. Again, money is changing hands here, but in these cases you’re not required to spend a dime before you get to play in a tournament. These kinds of freerolls are legitimately free, and the online poker rooms that offer them are usually new or have lost enough players to make putting them on sensible.
The way this works is that casinos know how much of a draw free Texas Hold em games are in themselves. So they figure if they give players an opportunity to play free Texas Holdem tournaments for real money such promotions will draw in new players by the thousands. This is in fact true as no sooner do most online poker players hear about such freerolls than they abandon their current poker sites for greener pastures.
The catch, of course, is you have to make a deposit, and you almost always have to play a given number of raked poker hands with it before you can withdraw anything you win in a freeroll. So essentially even these kinds of freerolls are deceptive in their own way.
Still, if you don’t cash in a freeroll, there’s usually nothing stopping you from withdrawing your deposit. And if you do win a huge purse or a seat in a major tournament, it’s highly unlikely you’ll squabble over a few raked poker hands.
All things considered, then, these freest of freerolls offer players a bit of a cushion. Their victims usually aren’t the complete newbs who get busted out after one or two hands, but the mediocre players who are good enough to get to the second or third tables. After a freeroll, these folks tend to think they’ll profit off the extremely bad players who swarmed the early tables. So they stick around and continue playing their deposits.
Meanwhile, the truly terrible players have already withdrawn their deposits and moved on. And the only folks left are usually the real sharks, who are counting on the many medium-sized fish left in the freeroll’s wake. These folks will swallow up a mid-level player’s bankroll in a matter of days—sometimes hours. And, sick as it is, the casinos could care less as long as they’re making their rakes.
The moral of this story, then, is that you should never size yourself bigger than you actually are. If you don’t cash, cash out.
Otherwise, you should definitely shop around the Interweb for as many freeroll poker tournaments as you can find because they truly do offer risk-free opportunities to play free Texas Holdem for real money. What’s more, AceHoyle.com has its very own online poker room reviews, making the search for free poker tournaments only a click away.
More on How to Play Texas Hold Em for Free
Here at AceHoyle.com we’d be more than happy to give you a tour when you’re ready to switch from free Texas Holdem games and other forms of play money online poker to freerolls. But the fact is you probably won’t need it. You’d be hard pressed to find a single online casino that doesn’t offer plenty of free Texas Holdem games for a real money prizes. And, even if you did find one that doesn’t, we probably don’t have to tell you how dumb signing up there would be.
At any rate, as we explained above casinos want their members to play poker for money, and for many real money poker sites freerolls are a way to transition players to real money play. What we haven’t covered yet, however, is how many operators’ comps programs come with “new player” stipulations. Such things are usually buried in out-of-the-way places on operators’ homepages and are written in such small print they could make a tarsier blind.
Once example though—just impress upon you the importance of giving yourself eyestrain—is a casino might only allow you to play Texas Holdem for free in freeroll tournaments for one month after depositing $100. This can definitely be a big punch in the gut if you don’t have the time to play in your first month. So make sure all the junk in the fine print fits your lifestyle before signing up.
Also, you need to understand that by “new player” online poker rooms mean “someone who’s never registered with our company before.” If you’ve ever played at one of a given casino’s sister Texas Holdem sites—even if you only played a few free Texas Hold'em games there—you won’t be eligible for any of that operator’s free poker tournaments.
The reason we’re telling you this is there aren’t actually as many operators out there as you might think. Really, there are only a handful of reputable online casino companies, and they own 90 percent of the Texas Holdem sites online today.
As a result, you’ll have to plan your freeroll schedule to make sure you aren’t counting on free Texas Hold em games you won’t be able to play. Also, be sure to make the most of the freerolls you can enter. There is a limit to online casinos’ generosity, after all, and that limit starts right about where you run out of new operators to switch to.
And yet, don’t let all this doom and gloom dissuade you. There are plus sides to freerolls, and one of these—perhaps the biggest—is that you’ll always have the advantage as far as the frequency of free poker tournaments is concerned.
The reason for this is that Internet poker sites are constantly battling over the same group of players. As a result, they’re always putting on deposit-only freerolls, and this in turn means that there are freerolls going on 24/7.
There really shouldn’t be a day you log on that you don’t find at least 10 free Texas Hold Em tournaments in progress. And because mastering the emotional aspect of real money play takes a lot of experience, the abundance of these free Texas Holdem games can definitely put you ahead of the curve.
Where to Find Free Texas Holdem Tournaments
As a kind of appendix to our freerolls section, we here at AceHoyle.com have compiled a short list of online poker rooms currently offering free Texas Holdem games for real money. We do, however, suggest you pay your dues at non-affiliated tables like those on Facebook and Myspace before checking any of these folks out. That way when you’re ready to go through our list you won’t have already wasted any freeroll opportunities by playing at these operators’ sister Texas Holdem sites:
Freeroll Spot #1: Titan Poker scores major points for offering its daily $50 Beginner Freerolls. All new Titan players have access to these tourneys for their first 90 days—meaning that if you already know your stuff you can score up to $4500 in easy money.
Freeroll Spot #2: Pacific Poker offers several incentives for players to make real-money deposits. Foremost of these is its $500 First Depositors’ Freeroll program, which gives new players a chance to participate in seven free events. This translates into a chance at $3500 in total winnings just for signing up—a deal you couldn’t beat if you’d made it yourself.
Freeroll Spot #3: Party Poker recognizes its newbs with its $2500 Freeroll. The only problem with this massive event is that you’ll be up against thousands of other players who have also recently graduated from playing free Texas Holdem games. Still, every other entrant will have been with Party Poker for the same amount of time as you. So, assuming you don’t totally screw the pooch, you might stand a chance of placing.