I have already addressed the optimal strategy for starting a poker career in my first article From Zero To Hero: How To Build A Poker Bankroll.
The reason I am now returning to the topic is a recent discussion on the CC forum about actual profit numbers from this activity. The answer to this question will complete the previous article and, with Full Tilt being merged into PokerStars, this is also a good time to draw the line and make a final analysis.
It is worth noting a few things here:
- I pretty much exclusively play freerolls in the evening while I am watching TV (CC freerolls tend to start at 9 PM my local time). This causes fairly big fluctuations in my playstyle, depending on the mood. I also don’t really pay that much attention to the table (meaning, someone who does would do better).
- When I do pay attention, I take notes on opponents as usual because I use a color coding + abbreviation system that takes little effort.
- I do not mix freerolls with my regular playing activity. Having a freeroll open while I am grinding cash games would be highly counterproductive (or -EV in poker lingo), but for beginner / 2NL players playing just a few tables it could be desirable. Donking away a stack in a freeroll is better than in the cash game ☺
- Playing several freerolls at once while doing something else (watching TV, browsing the Internet) is optimal because they do not exactly contribute much income per hour.
- Only Full Tilt and PokerStars are included in this analysis because a majority of players have accounts there and I played freerolls somewhat regularly on those two sites. FT much more than PS, because PS freerolls are generally not worth the time (= often I didn’t bother playing them even though I was online).
This analysis will not cover any tournaments that are not freerolls, which means some valuable “money added” tournaments are excluded. The whole idea of freerolls is the snowball effect they have on the total account balance, but going in that direction would make the analysis too fuzzy.
I will repeat the picture from Zero to Hero article here, for those who don’t feel like reading it again:
Full Tilt Freeroll Income
Time period covered: November 25th, 2012 – April 4th, 2016
- Real money = 706.27 USD (CardsChat freerolls account for 448.15 USD from 189 tournaments, which comes out to 2.37 USD per tournament.)
- Tournament dollars = 521.9 T$ (Small amount of this total was from using FTPs for satellites and converting the tickets into T$ automatically. I did this only very early in my poker career.)
- Tournament tickets = 335.05 USD
- Ring game tickets = 183 USD
- In addition, weekly 100 FTP tournaments accounted for additional 255 USD in ring game tickets and 112.5 T$. I am including that here because FTPs were otherwise fairly worthless (= spending them cost nothing really). Huge majority of players (including myself) had massive stockpiles of FTPs sitting in their account collecting dust for years.
TOTAL Full Tilt = 2113.72 USD
PokerStars Freeroll Income
Time period covered: February 9th, 2013 – April 4th, 2016
- Real money won = 712.67 USD (CardsChat freerolls account for 273.63 USD from 224 tournaments, which comes out to 1.22 USD per tournament).
I did not include any FPP (now StarsCoin) satellites here because FPPs have always had real value on PokerStars so using them to grind satellites does not fall under “freeroll” label.
TOTAL Full Tilt + PokerStars = 2113.72 + 712.67 = 2826.39 USD
Obviously, this is not exactly major money, but not many people earn $$$ while watching TV ☺ in many countries this amount could be put to fairly good use.
I would like to remind the readers that it is optimal to use freeroll money as a springboard into higher levels of play, so when the time comes, the first deposit bonus is not a big challenge to clear out. It is necessary to eventually take that step because it is not possible to withdraw money unless a deposit was made (so why waste the bonus then?).