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Old Aug 27, 2006, 3:47pm   #1
IronLen1972
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Default Free Rolling New Player Guide

I have been on a freeroll jag for a few months. Nice easy way to get to play 1,000's of hands and try some new strategems for free. I ended up playing about 55-60 tournaments a week (sometimes more!) and did alot of multi-tabling as well. Won a good deal of cash too, considering the investment...So, as a self professed expert on freerolling, I thought I would lay out some of my findings, and give some advice. Bear in mind this is for freerolls. Trying this strategy in a cash buy in might not be such a good idea...

Prelude - I first wrote this little guide some weeks ago and posted it. After some constructive feedback, I went back, put that advice into action, and came back with a better guide. I make no claims to how this will work for you, but as a general guide, it should have something in here for you if you want to get started in MTT's and learn the ropes.
In order to have success in freerolls you have to know the odds. It is critical to your success. It is your edge. You can be damn sure 90% of the players have no idea that their 2 hearts in hand, 2 hearts on board are only 35% or so to hit that flush by the river. You have to know that the "Big Slick" usually equals the big broke in MTT play if you go all in pre-flop agains't a large field of all-ins and big, big bets.. Do you want to bet your last two hours on 35% chance? Or do you want to KNOW you have the edge. Check the odds, get a chart, memorize, what ever floats the boat. Know your hand rankings for long table play. Also study the players and see their showdown cards. You need to know what they bet with. This is critical in late play when players are at the table with you for longer periods. For reference material, check out Harrington's books on MTT play and Poker for Dummies. Yes Poker for Dummies. Don't laugh, it's actually an excellent book. Also be sure in these tournaments to not try any fancy plays, or do anything "tricky". Only another good player will understand those kinds of maneuvers. Good luck finding one in a freeroll.

First, and I cannot stress this enough -PLAY YOUR FIRST FEW HANDS VERY SELECTIVELY! You need solid, solid, solid cards during the first orbit or two. Every crazy ass donkey is going to toss in all their chips on 9-5 offsuite at the start. I am not kidding, its a crazy all in festival at the start of these tournaments. I usually take my seat, hit sit in, and just watch. I don't even look at my cards if they arent the top side of the premium. I don't care what they are otherwise. I am not going to play them. After the first five or six hands, I will work into the game and play tight aggressive. AA or KK is all in, everytime. It is rare not to find at least one caller for an all-in early. Just because the blinds are cheap, do not interpret this as licence to play more hands, think exactly the opposite. It means everyone else will play any old holding, and you should be far, far more selective. Also, this is the round to really take the chances with your whole stack. Your time is your buy-in. Rather than be short stacked after an hour and grinding to pick up pots off the surviving donkey's - go for it early. If you lose, time is saved. Playable hands - AA or KK, premium from position. Limping with anything at all on the button is also very good idea - if enough people are in the hand. If your limping in from the button with rags, watch the flop, if you can beat top pair (I always look and say to myself can I beat AA with my rag hand now?) and if you can, ie two pair, set, straight, flush, etc have at the pot. You will find no end of callers early.

Second, build chips early at all costs. The larger the field, the more you need. If you didn't get beaten by a donkey hand in the early rounds you should be in decent shape. Watch the table closely, pick a few loose, aggressive targets at the table. Also pick who you want to avoid. I like to look for someone who calls every round, and bets into every pot for a steal. Find this person, get a solid hand, and check call them down to the river. They will, if you pick your target right, pay you off handsomly every time. This stage of the tournament I am looking to gather chips, play a little looser and avoid any confrontations that would jeopardize my entire stack as I have now invested enough time that I want to make a good push. Playable hands are pretty much text-book. Position is important too of course.

Third, if you survive the dog fight in the second leg and come out with a decent chip stack, your in the middle round. Loosen up a tiny bit more. Start calling in position with any playable hand if the price is right. If you come out of the second round and have less than twice the starting chip total, your in trouble. Do not fret though, your play here is to wait till your on the button, and watch for alot of action on the board ahead of you. I hate to say this, and its counter-intuitive to solid poker play - but lottery draw here. Toss in all your chips when you see a big enough pot ahead of you that you can get back in the game. You want to see a few players in the pot, three at least. The point here is you wont have any bet equity soon, even though your M is close to 30 probably (M is how many passes of the blinds you can survive at its current level, sort of) and this normally places you in a good place. Except in freerolls where anything less than an M of 100 at this stage is death. By round 4 you will see stacks all over the tournament with 100x the chip start and up. Playable hands - just about any hand on the button if the price is right, premium from any position, draw hands late.

Fourth, of you survive the middle and longest grind, and start to approach the bubble, don't fall into the trap of playing tight for that miniscule few cents. Light it up hard now. Really loosen up and start getting aggressive. The other players, having invested 4 hours to get to this stage commonly will tighten up and play a game unlike what got them to this stage. Watch out for any players that are slipping into a semi-loose aggressive style as well, they are the sharks, just like you. If you play any hand at all, rag or otherwise, do not let the blinds in for cheap, and don't let anyone draw cards for free. Period. Keep an eye on the top ten stacks, and shoot for that. Anything less will give you a payout that is less than satisfactory for the effort. Make the other players at the table scared to call into you. Keep them guessing. Get some control. Firmly establish your image. It is starting to matter less what you hold, and more about how much you have. Anything from any position, if it makes sense.

Fifth, and last. You are now in the money, maybe at the final table. If you made it this far, congratulations. Now it's money time. I think of this stage of the game as "it depends". I will play the table, the players, and the tempo of the final table more than I will play the content of my own hand. If everyone is super tight I will play LAG. If the table is LAG, I will play TAG. I just follow my instincts and play into the situation. More often than not, at the final table of freerolls I find the table to be tight, alot of folding, only a few flops here and there. If this is the case, and the table is short, I will toss away the call button. I either bet, raise, or fold. Go big or go home time. Playable hands - any damn thing you want, from any position, with any flop. Play the players. Cant win with rags mind you...but if you got this far, you know the drill. Hammer at the chip stacks, dont let anyone play a hand cheap if your in it. Keep them guessing as much as you can. Control the table, make people scared of calling into you.

Thats about it! Playing with this (newer modified) strategy has netted me a fair number of wins, both in cash and qualifiers. I am currently qualified on several sites including Absolute Poker in both their finals for Vegas and UPC, amoung others. I found that playing in freerolls to be a great experience, I got to re-engineer my MTT play several times to find a game I was comfortable playing and winning with. Have fun!
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Last edited by IronLen1972; Sep 03, 2006 at 2:12pm.
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 3:49pm   #2
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Default Im a nub

Could someone move this to the Tournament stragegy section? I posted it in the wrong spot by mistake...
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 4:33pm   #3
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Excellent piece of work, very nice! I do not agree with every bit of it, of course, as players always have different styles, but I am sure it will be of great help to anyone who plays freerolls or micro moronathons.
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 5:47pm   #4
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I'm going to have to very much disagree with this advice.

What you will end up doing with this approach is lasting longer in freerolls, but likely busting out without making any money. The person who will likely win the freeroll is the person that accumulates a ton of chips at the beginning when donkeys are throwing away their money. You bet if everyone else is going all-in preflop and I have AA/KK the first hand, I am shoving my chips in immedietly. Sure, there's a chance I might lose, but the EV is great.

The fourth and fifth stages of the advice are good, but I disagree with the first part.
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 5:47pm   #5
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Nice, well thought out post.

I just have to question you strategy a bit. If the other players are going all-in with crap, then mucking AA/KK would be a silly thing to do. If you have a good shot at getting a large stack I suggest you take it. In the middle and late stages the bad players will be gone, so why not take their chips when you can?

If you bust out. Fine. It didn't cost you anything, and most importantly, didn't take any of your time. If you pass the chance to get a big stack in the early rounds you will have to gamble in the later stages a lot more, and if you lose, well there goes 1 hours of work instead of 1 min.

It is rare to get AA in the first few hands, but I just had to get this off my chest.

EDIT: Too slow
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 6:03pm   #6
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Default AA and KK early

The only issue I have playing these or any hand pre flop early during the first five hands all in is that there usually 4 to 6 players usually all going for it. AA and KK simply dont stand up to that many players in the pot as often as I would like. Yes it is a good idea to call and great to have a big chip stack early - but I find it much easier to take the money from the donkey later. Just my two cents.
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Old Aug 27, 2006, 11:36pm   #7
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i disaggree. play ultra ultra tight? no way, if you play loose then you get way more chips. i was playing a MTT today and in 10 minutes i was already at 15k playing loose aggressive. playing tight is a good way to pace yourself but will definately not make final table.
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Old Aug 28, 2006, 12:55am   #8
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The first half of this is terrible advice.

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Old Aug 28, 2006, 1:53am   #9
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Harsh. Well, it does work well for me, and I have a great degree of success using it. That being said, I am not as experienced as the elders of this board and more than respect the collective opinions. However, I feel obliged to point out that this is for freerolls and really isnt applicable outside that arena. Is this advice being thrown back here in general, or in respect of the fact I wrote the article about freerolls?

Disclaimer: Do not take my advice here and place it into a cash MTT, you will get run out of town in fairly short order. I recognize that right off, I play a fair number of cash MTT as well and use a much different approach.

I would like some feedback, what specifically is not agreed with, and why. What would you do differently at different stages? I am by no means a genius, and always strive to improve. Rather than justify my own position, where and how should I adjust this approach if you were writing it?

hustlr : does that include the part about watching your video
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Old Aug 28, 2006, 9:46am   #10
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I also disagree with the first part. Don't waist youre chips on medium hands, but if you have a top hand in the early rounds, you should play it aggressively.

Your advice will give you a small stack in the 3rd round, and then a coinflip to try and tripple up? And this while it is so easy to take chips in the first round by betting your supreme hands. I can agree not calling 2 AI's whan you hold AJo, but folding AA,KK,QQ,JJ,AK preflop in a freeroll because 95o might be going all-in too, that's not really good play.
I would reconsider this strategy.
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