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Poker has a lingo all its own. Listen to player chat for just a few minutes and sometimes it sounds like they just flew in from a foreign country.

In an effort to help some of you newer players become acclimated to the game’s lingo, we are starting a new series entitled “Poker Jargon Explained.” This edition’s topic is what is freeroll poker.

Freeroll Poker Tournaments

The most common form of freeroll on a poker site is a freeroll poker tournament. These tournaments have no buy-in and pay out real money to the top finishers. Some tournaments have restrictions, such as they are available only for new players or players that have earned a set number of player points in a month.

One major difference between a freeroll and a standard tournament is that it will pay a much smaller field. For example, if a 1,000 player tournament pays the top 10 percent, a freeroll might pay out the top 5% or even less. It is not uncommon to see a 10,000 player freeroll only pay the top 50 players.

Depending on the size of the prize pool, many of the top finishers may walk away with a miniscule prize compared to the amount of effort required to earn it. For example, in a $50 freeroll paying 50 players, the bottom 25 players may only walk away with a .25 prize with the top player earning $10.

Granted, there are freerolls of varying sizes and prize pools. Typically, your larger freerolls will have some type of requirement or are an award of some type. For example, players that earn 1,000 player points in a month may get a shot at a freeroll with a $2.000 prize pool.

While the prizes in freerolls tend to be small, they are real money and have zero restrictions on them. If you win $50 in a freeroll and want to cash out, you can. Of course, most will take that new bankroll try to run it up, and that’s what the card rooms are hoping for.

Freeroll Cash Games

You’ve probably never heard of freeroll cash games being spread online and that’s because they aren’t. However, some websites will offer new players a new player bonus that is usable exclusively on cash games. In essence, this makes the game they select a freeroll cash game.

Unlike freeroll tournaments, a person playing on a freeroll in a cash game isn’t limited to how much they can earn. If they have a $5 freeroll and there’s $100 in play on the table, they can continue playing until they either bust or win the lion’s share of the money on the table.

Purpose of Freeroll Poker Games

Freeroll poker games serve multiple purposes. First, they serve inexpensive advertising for the card room and as a way to draw in new players and keep existing players returning. Many new player registrations include entries to freerolls and players that continue to play on a site can earn entry into exclusive freerolls based on their play.

Other types of freerolls serve as a way to reward players for playing more of a certain game or taking part in a tournament series. It is a small price to play for loyalty and gives the players some extra value for their play.

Freeroll poker can also entice players to go ahead and make a deposit on the site. A player tries his or her luck at several freerolls trying to win $5 to $20 at a time and ultimately realizes the amount of time they are wasting. Instead of continuing on that path, they decide to take the plunge and deposit $50 on the site so they can go ahead and play some non-freeroll poker.

James Guill

James Guill began his poker career in 2006, spending two years traveling the US tournament circuit. Since 2008, he has covered the game extensively for some of the biggest names in the industry. When not writing about the latest poker news, he can be found hunting for antique treasures in Central Virginia.