« Kevin Ngo

Poker Session #13 - Crush the Freeroll

1 Mar 2014

Some money to throw around and a Saturday to kill after a $1064 finish on Friday night. Unfortunately, after getting home at 4am, I was not able to wake up for my favorite 11am freeroll. Getting up at 1pm though was good enough. I again took first place in the $960-pot freeroll for a $360 finish. Looking back on my stats over six freeroll tournaments, I have a 740% ROI ($150 to earn $1260).

The Juiciness of the Final Table Freerolls

Crushing the freerolls.

A freeroll is a tournament where the buyin is free and the house guarantees (spots) the prize pool. At the Final Table, they spot $300. Though players put in enough money through rebuys and addons such that the prize pool is no longer guaranteed by the house but by the players.

The concept of a freeroll and house guarantee allures other players to come play wild and loose, “my buyin is free, and rebuys are only $15!”. Rather than thinking the tourney is free, it is advantageous to pay for a full stack to maximize the ability to win large pots from players that come on top of the early stage donkfest. I just think of it as a $30 turbo ($15 pre-addon, $15 addon) against shortstacks. A turbo tournament is a game in which the blinds raise a very quick pace (every 12 minutes).

Why are these freerolls so easy? Players are very loose since it’s a freeroll. Limping, chasing, shoving preflop with marginal hands. There is a donkfest at the beginning where some players come out with a large stack, and it is easy to longball for a good stack yourself. But ironically the key to winning these freerolls is not winning huge pots, but rather stack awareness.

Stack Awareness

Leading us to the second reason, that other players do not have stack awareness during these turbos. Players do not adjust to the large blinds and think of their stack in an absolute rather than a relative perspective. A player with a chip lead might think they are healthy because they have more chips than everyone else, but if the blinds are high relative to their stack, they actually should be feeling desparate and be making moves.

Winning these freerolls are all about recognizing your “M-ratio”, or the number of rounds you can survive before being blinded out. Once my M-ratio falls below 6, which happens pretty quickly to everyone, I make a lot of moves. I shove wide into unopened or limped pots in late position to pick up the dead money, and if I am called I still have a chance to win. It is about combining fold equity with pot equity to steal tons of blinds to quickly replenish and build a stack. Each successful steal can increase your stack by 20%. In the off-chance you get called, your cards are still live.

Last but not least, I have reads on several players that frequent the weekends that give me information in determining the timing of my pushes.

5pm $300 Freeroll - 1st Place for $360

At the final table, a guy named loose-passive Asian gambler named Raj was on my immediate left. We went at it a lot in blind vs blind battles. I had earlier shoved his limp with T8s to double up. He limped into my BB, I shove, he folded. I win a three-way all-in after shoving with K3o for king high.

Raj min-raises my BB, and stop-and-go’ed a 774 flop with 26s. An messy lookin’ obnoxious middle-aged woman (call her Hags) intelligently remarked, “hey, if you shoved preflop, he would have folded!”. No shit, Sherlock, I will remember to soulread his cards from now on. Thankfully, she busted out soon after.

We went to break with four players left. I was the shortest stack, but with these blinds, stack size did not matter. I came back from the break aggressive and firing, going all-in four hands in a row. Players were way too tight, and with the steals, I commanded the chip lead. I lost a flip a soon after to become short stack again, but kept up the aggression and stole more pots.

Raj limped into my BB, I shove with KK, he calls with ATo to bust. He probably should have accepted the chop were negotiating earlier. It was down to heads up with me and an old Viet-looking guy (call him Phet). He was very short stacked. I tell him “I’m probably going to shove with my next hand with any two cards”. I shove with A6o, and it holds against QTo to win the tournament.

I remember to tip the dealers well with this time, 11%.

3pm $25 Freezeout - Busted

It was fun and games at this table. Unfortunately, I lost a AK vs TT flip, and did a loose isolation to get it all in against two players with an open-ended straight draw and overcard. Hags kept talking obnoxiously to me about hands I really couldn’t care about if I tried. I hate single-table SNGs and without the guarantee, the prize pool was as weak as Monday to Friday.

Session Conclusions