On Friday afternoon, I finished 10th in a freeroll at PokerRoom. That netted me $22. Not huge but I will take it. 10 out of 2400 is pretty good. It actually got me to thinking about playing freerolls and low buy in tournaments at PokerRoom.
The $5 multis will usually attract around 300 people. Finish in 10th and you will get roughly the same amount as the freeroll. Difference is the number of people you are up against and the prize amount if you finish in the top 5 which can get you at least $100 with first usually in the neighborhood of $400.
But which one is a tougher tournament to play? If you play the FR, you have no money invested. You will need to make it to the top 45 to get at least $10.
In a multi, you will need to get to the top 20 to get paid. Your cost is $5.50 (including the juice).
I was thinking that the buy in must be tougher because people are willing to pay to get in, thus better players. Then I thought that may not be so. Sure 2400 people are in a freeroll and there is some real jackass play that occurs in the first hour. To enjoy a good poker game in the FR, you need to get past that first hour before any real use of strategy comes into play. In the first hour, roughly 1800-2000 players will be eliminated. I am not kidding. There will usually be 600 gone in the first half hour. Mainly because of the jackass play. People pushing with ATC just to double up. Then they try to bully the table. When a real hand takes them out, play changes.
In a low buy in, at least half the field will be done in the first 45 minutes. The quality of play isn't much better than the freeroll in that first hour. Some people will treat the low buy in like a freeroll.
I would have thought the buy in would be a tougher game to play but I don't think it is. In the FR you need to avoid the idiots who dick around. It hurts to have them suck out on you and send you to the virtual rail when they play their J 3 off and runner runner you for two pair. Avoid the bad beat and you will build your stack well. Hell, even survival means you have a chance to do well.
I didn't have many chips after the first hour on Friday. I believe I was around 600 in fact, down from the start of 1000. Come the end of the second hour I was above 200 but no where near the top. In fact, I was towards the very bottom. When the third hour started, I noticed that there were about 192 people left. I was at 187. I caught a decent hand and pushed getting 3 callers. I take down the pot and vault to the upper half. Two hands later, I get A A and push. Get 3 callers and I vault into the top 50. Another decent hand later and I am at 4. If I hadn't played to survive, I wouldn't have been given the opportunity to make the final table.
I played a buy in multi the next day and was done in the middle of the pack. I thought the play was softer, more players just gambling away their chips. It has me believing that the freerolls, though with no investment but time, are tougher than some of the low buy in multis. At the very least, they can help you adjust you playing style, allow you to try new things. While some may blow them off, I play them every weekend to help learn and grow my game. I'd like to think it works.