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How to Build a Poker Bankroll from Scratch

A very common scenario in online poker is a player wanting to play online for real money, but not wanting to deposit or risk any of their own hard earned cash. This article will look at a step by step way to build your online poker bankroll. The first step is of course free tournaments because you have no money yet to invest. Step two is finding good value poker tournaments that over time you will win at even if you are just an average player. After you have built somewhat of a bankroll the next step will be bonus whoring at online poker rooms to get as much bang for your buck as possible.

Step 1: Freeroll Tournaments

Almost all online poker rooms offer freeroll tournaments to their players so this is an alright place to start. However, after a few tourneys you will realize that the prize pool, which is something like $50, is not near worth your time when there are 1000 entrants in the tourney. This equals out to be $0.05 per participant, and this is not enough value for a few hours of playing time.

The real trick when it comes to freeroll tournaments is to find the private freerolls hosted by online poker forums. Forums will often host freeroll tournaments for their members and these tournaments have way more value than the poker room tourneys. You can often find poker forum freeroll tournaments that are equivalent to about $1 buy-ins. This means like a $50 prize pool with 50, or sometimes even less entrants. This is a much better value for you to start building your online poker bankroll.

What you should do is join a bunch of poker forums that you know host a lot of online poker freerolls and download the online poker rooms that the forums use the most frequently. Then you can check the private tournament section of the online poker rooms and go to the forums to find the passwords to enter the tourneys. Eventually you will find a slew of good value freerolls and you will be able to play several tournaments a day.

Step 2: Added Value Tournaments

Now that you’ve built up a small bankroll (around $10-$20) you can start looking for added value online poker tournaments where you get the best bang for your buck. The first place you should look is back at the forums. Many online poker forums host “money added” tournaments in addition to their freerolls. A typical money added tournament would be like a $2 buy-in tournament with $50 added to the prize pool. Since poker players with no cash online can’t access these tournaments the player pools are often much smaller and the expected value is higher than even the freerolls. For example, there is often around 20 players in a money added tournament like the one described above, which means on average you would earn $2.50 of the $50 added.

You want to avoid rebuy poker tournaments, but instead go for several other forms of added value tournaments including online poker room promotions or cash overlay tournaments. For example, many online poker rooms host bounty tournaments with relatively small buy-ins where there are several players with bounties on their head and all of the bounties are basically added money. Cash overlay tournaments are also great because the guarantee amount was not reached so there is more money in the prize pool than was paid by the entrants. As long as you play added value poker tournaments you should be able to continue to grow your online poker bankroll and of course you can continue to play the online poker freerolls as well.

Step 3: Bonus Whoring

Once you built your online poker bankroll up to about $100 you can start to move the money around and do some poker bonus hunting. All online poker rooms offer bonuses to first time depositors, so if you can take advantage of the initial deposit bonuses at a variety of poker rooms you should be able to continue to build your bankroll. For example, the first online poker room you should go to is PokerStars because their bonus is only $50 anyways. Then as you build your online poker bankroll you can continue to move it to other online poker rooms and clear the bonuses.

Remember, just because you made it to the bonus whoring stage it doesn't mean that you should stop playing the money added and online poker freeroll events. If you have a downswing playing some bigger events the freeroll tournaments and money added tourneys can provide a sort of safety net because you will have cash on a variety of sites. If you follow these three steps you should be able to build a strong online poker bankroll from absolutely nothing.