Poker BROducation : Hand Selection & Bet Sizing in Freerolls

in #hivelast year



Today we're going to go over some simple beginner tips to help you go deeper in a Freeoll poker tournament on There are so many strategies you could choose from so I will only be covering a few topics and only a few variants of these strategies here today. In future posts we will cover more on this topic, so don't expect this to be a full guide on how to play proper poker (whatever that is).

Hand Selection

One of the most important decisions you can make in poker is choosing which hands to play and which to fold. As a beginner your best bet is to stick with big pocket pairs (AA, KK, QQ, JJ, etc) or high suited connectors (AK suited, KQ suited, QJ suited, etc) and raise aggressively pre-flop.

Why is this generally recommended for newcomers? Because it reduces the thinking you will need to do after the flop. You will likely find yourself ahead of the other players and betting aggressively pre-flop and post-flop will generally win you more hands.

On a Freeroll site, especially on our site, you will get "donk called" pre-flop shoving all in with a high pocket pair more than you would in a buy-in tournament. Shoving all in pre-flop doesn't guarantee you a win and if you discover that half the table has decided to call your shove, you could end up in big trouble.

The bottom line is, in a Freeroll poker game you're likely going to find yourself in a multi-way pot (3 or more players) most of the time, so get used to it! Usually people are playing to have fun in Freerolls and since they are playing with zero risks whatsoever to their bankroll, they're willing to play any two cards just to see more action and have more fun.

The key thing to remember is that not a single player has anything invested in a Freeroll, so most everyone will be playing their worst poker ever and can have just about any two cards. It can be really frustrating at times to watch your pre-flop shove get called by 4 other players holding a range of hands like Ace/Five offsuit, Queen/Three suited, Five/Eight suited and any other random two cards ... especially when you lose to one of them.

You may be way ahead odds wise pre-flop, but once the flop arrives, you could find yourself behind with only 2 outs (the other 2 Aces) to save you in most cases. With so many players in the hand and playing any two cards you might want to reconsider shoving a big pocket pair all in pre-flop unless you just enjoy the thrill. For newcomers to poker, this could be an easy way to increase your stack size or a quick way out of a tournament.

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Bet Sizing

Shoving all-in pre-flop can get you a big stack quick and easily, but doing it repeatedly will usually spell your d00m as more players will be willing to call your shove as time passes, especially later in a Freeroll tournament.

For this reason, some players would rather play it safe with their big hands and either limp in (generally a very bad idea) or with small raises pre-flop of 2-3.5 Big Blinds (BB). Personally I'm a fan of 2.5 BB raises in tournament play simply because it allows you to play a wider range of cards while not allowing anyone to put you on a hand.

If you're only making big raises with big pocket pairs, using small raises with suited connectors and limping with small pocket pairs or random cards, other players will eventually pick up on this and they will have a big advantage on you once the flop arrives.

Let's say you always bet 4BB with a big pocket pair and the flop comes with 2, 7, 8 of hearts and you lead out with a bet of 50% of the pot with your pocket Aces. What are you going to do when another player raises you and another flat calls them?

You have no idea if one or both of them have flopped a flush or straight draw or have simply figured out that you only bet 4BB with a big pocket pair and you obviously did not improve on the flop ... but they likely have.

So sizing your bets properly to disguise your hands is highly recommended. Don't give your opponents too much information to go on, either always raise the same amount no matter what 2 cards you hold or at the least mix things up on them from time to time and make sure they see it. Sometimes your 4BB raise is a big pocket pair, but just enough times ... it's a small suited connector. Keep your opponents in the dark!

Two popular approaches with bet sizing pre-flop are to always raise the same amount no matter what 2 cards you're leading off with so other players cannot put you on a hand or adapting your range of cards you will be playing pre-flop and how much you will raise based upon your position at the table.

Raising more Under the Gun (UTG or 1st to act) and only playing your strongest hands in this position, since there are more players behind you that could call, can be effective. While loosening up your pre-flop hand selection and lowering your raise amounts mid to late position. This does however allow the other players to put you on a range of hands a lot easier than always raising the same amount no matter what position you're in or cards you have.

It's still a valid strategy especially if you mix it up from time to time and show your 56 suited when everyone one else mucks to your huge raise UTG.

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Playing It Safe

When all else fails, playing it safe and only getting aggressive when you have the nuts or you're pretty certain you have the best hand post-flop is one of the best strategies for new poker players. It may not give you that adrenaline rush many seek when playing poker, but it will likely give you a big stack of chips and have you sitting at final tables and in the money far more often.

You will find that in most Freerolls players are willing to limp in with just about anything. If you find yourself in late position and everyone ahead of you has limped in while the blinds are still low, it's usually worth a call to see a cheap flop and see what happens.

Doing this too much however can lead to a dwindling chip stack before mid-tourney arrives unless you're hitting a lot of flops that favor you, and you could find yourself struggling to get back to your original chip stack.

The bottom line is, they're your cards to play however you choose and the object is to have fun and win some HIVE. But you're likely to win far more playing smart than playing like a donkey calling every shove on the flop with your 67 suited flush draw. 😉

As the old saying goes ... "I'd rather be lucky than good!"

You'll find plenty of players in Freeroll tournaments who live by that creed, so watch your step and adjust your play to the players and hope for the best!



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