How to play loyalty freerolls

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Freerolls for players who generate lots of rake are a lot different to freerolls for new players – Barry Carter goes through the strategy.

Freerolls are softer

Despite being in poker for over 15 years now, I could count on one hand how many times I had played freerolls. This is not because I feel snobbish about them, simply that I had always viewed them as very time consuming.

Over the last year I have actually been playing a lot of loyalty freerolls on Unibet and doing quite well in them, even winning a couple. It’s a very important distinction, a loyalty freeroll for existing customers who have raked a certain amount compared to a regular freeroll for potential new customers. A loyalty freeroll tends to be played by ‘regulars’ on a site and more standard freerolls attract lots of complete newbies. Loyalty freerolls also tend to have smaller fields for larger prize pools, which is the reason I play them.

There are some distinct strategic differences in loyalty freerolls which I wanted to explore today.

Most players don’t show up

First of all, both types of freeroll are soft. Regular freerolls because they attract newbies, loyalty freerolls because people are more inclined to gamble. They gamble more than they would in real money MTTs because it cost them nothing, but less than people do in regular freerolls.

The biggest difference of all is that loyalty freerolls have a lot of dead stacks from players who forgot, or didn’t know, they had been registered for the tournament. Every month I play a €3,000 Missions Freeroll at Unibet that has about 500 runners and I would estimate that only 150 of those players are actually logged in at the time.

This means you can play easily coast to a money position. It also means that a nine handed table might actually be a four handed table with dead blinds to sweeten the pot. This should widen your ranges significantly, however if I have a player population observation it is that most of the players play too loose to steal blinds. They are not worth stealing in the first few levels, but they are worth stealing when the dead stacks have almost blinded out.

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A recent freeroll win at Unibet

I used to think that freerolls took too long, but that is not the case here. In fact what tends to happen is you tend to lose about 300 players at the same time when the dead stacks blind out. If you look at one of the dead stacks at your table, around the time they blind out you can safely assume that the same thing is happening on every other table. Once your table’s dead stacks bust, they do on every other table and you lose most of the players. After which it becomes a normal full ring tournament.

The mass exodus of dead stacks

After the mass exodus of dead stacks, all of a sudden play tends to tighten up, as that is usually when the bubble is near and everyone realises they might be able to make something from nothing.

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Loyalty freerolls reward rake generators so the fields are smaller

The final observation is that play gets very shallow very quickly, so you need to know your 5BB shove and call ranges. This is because most sites realise their players do not want to invest a massive amount of time in a freeroll, so they make the structures fast and shallow.

It took me 15 years to actually play loyalty freerolls and they are an excellent form of game selection as even when they have regular grinders in them, most just want a gamble and won’t take the time to adjust to the nuances of them.

Do you play in freerolls? Let us know in the comments:

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