The Power of a Freeroll

by Carl Sampson on June 16, 2013

There is nothing quite life free money to boost a bankroll or potential bankroll. In terms of the return on investment then the figure is infinite. If you won $100k after buying in for $5000 then a $95k profit is a huge return. However most of the time your loss will be $5k which is very considerable! Compare that to a player that picked up $100 in a freeroll whose outlay was $0…….the return isn’t just 20/1 but actually infinite.

Why is this so important? Well the fact of the matter is that millions upon millions of online poker players are actually risk adverse. I know this sounds strange but it is true. When you look at the vast numbers of players on any site or network these days and a very large percentage of them are either on play money tables or at micro stakes or low stakes. This probably accounts for at least 95% of the players on a poker site.

Part of that can be put down to not having the bankroll to play higher up but how many players worry about bankroll management anyway? Recently the site where I play which is 888 poker are having their 11th birthday party and to commemorate that they are hosting eleven freerolls. There are ten of $1000 and one at $3000 starting on the 13th June and running for eleven days.

Some years ago I recall Chris Ferguson turning $0 into $10,000 starting with freerolls. In 2010 I also decided to do a poker bankroll challenge and I turned $100 into $10k starting with $2 and $4 NLHE cash games. The fact of the matter is that you don’t need money to play poker and while a player that starts in freerolls isn’t really signalling their intention to play mid-stakes poker against the tough regs online, who says that you need to take poker as far as that?

In my career I have come unstuck at various times and I have also played full time during other periods. Let me tell you this, I never enjoyed playing full time poker for one simple reason. This is because the entire thing seemed pressured to me. Having to win money is a lot different from winning money being a bonus. It does feel incredibly liberating to play poker or to gamble full stop with somebody else’s money.

This is why I guess there are so many people looking for a sponsorship deal or a backing deal. Playing tournaments on somebody else’s money and with them taking the risk must be fantastic and I only hope that one day I fit into that category. I recall some years ago when I formed my first blackjack team, I was lucky enough to find a financial backer that funded the entire thing. He placed £50,000 (around $100k at the time) into the venture and while I only played for wages effectively, this was my first taste of gambling and risk while having a backer.

I have had backers in poker as well and some years ago I played high-stakes poker with a backer behind me. I run bad for around six months and was behind by $100k but managed to claw it back before my backer wanted his money back. It still felt incredibly pressure though even playing with somebody else’s money. The pressure to do well is still there even though there are many charlatans in poker who look out for naïve backers in order to freeroll with their money with the prospect of leaving them high and dry. However the power of playing without risk is alluring for millions of people and you really cannot beat it.

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