As online poker exploded alongside the live poker boom in the early 2000s, more and more players wanted in on the tournament action that revolutionized the game of poker. Online poker tournaments were especially popular with recreational players who could invest a little and potentially earn a life-changing score.
That momentum has never slowed down. At safe and legal US online poker sites, there’s now truly a poker tournament for everyone, from low-stakes tournament series to turbo SnGs to sweepstakes poker tournaments for real cash prizes. The choices are almost endless. And that includes a wide range of free tournaments.
Free online poker tournaments for real money are the bread and butter of poker site offers for new players. These are real money options that help you build a poker bankroll without any financial commitment or risk.
Here’s how to take advantage of the best free poker tournament offers out there for US players.
Best Free Online Poker Tournaments
Here’s a table to get you started with free tournament ticket entries at legal US poker sites:
|Poker Site||States Available||Bonus Code (Click to claim now)||Freerolls Offered||Biggest prize pools|
|• $150 in bonus play (NJ, MI, PA)|
• STARS600 – 100% Deposit Match up to $600
|• $5,000 Depositor Freeroll|
• $1,000 Welcome Freerolls (up to 7 per player)
• Players also get $10 in bonus Spin & Go tickets on sign up.
** shared player pool with 888poker in Delaware
|25FREE $100 in Bonus Play on deposit; 100% up to $1,000 Deposit Bonus||• Welcome Freerolls – just for new players; get 7 tickets with $10 deposit|
• $1,000 Hero Freeroll – monthly event for former/current members of armed forces, police & fire departments
• Regular open freerolls
• Bonus play money can be used for tournament play
|$1,000 to $10,000 depending on specific promotions|
|• PLAYNJFREE – Up to $75 in tournament tickets + 100% match up to $1,000 with first deposit||• $50K freeroll in MI April 4, 2021 |
• Regular freerolls vary
• Free money offer can be used for tournament play
|• PLAYNJ – Up to $75 in tournament tickets + 100% match up to $1,000 on deposit||• Regular freerolls vary|
• Free money offer can be used for tournament play
|partypoker||• NJ||• PLAYNJCASH - 100% Deposit Bonus up to $1,000||• Regular freerolls vary||NA|
|• No Code Needed – $20 Sign-Up Bonus|
• No Code Needed – Deposit Bonus up to $1,500
|• Tiered VIP Freerolls up to $3,000|
• Regular $1,000 freerolls all week + weekly $3,000 freerolls during Spring Fever promos
• More freerolls throughout year
• Free money can be used for tournament play
|Global Poker||• USA (excl. Wash)||• FLUSH Get 150,000 Gold Coins + 30 FREE Sweeps Coins||• SC100 Daily Hyper Turbo Freeroll – several daily|
• SC1,500 Private Newsletter Freeroll - each Monday for anyone who opens email newsletter and gets password
• Pop-up freerolls - run during major tournament series such as Eagle Cup
• Sweeps Coins redeemable for cash prizes and gift cards
|SC1,000 to SC1,500|
What is a “Freeroll” (AKA a free online poker tournament)?
Why do online casinos and online poker sites offer free tournaments with real cash prizes? It’s similar to free play at a traditional, land-based casino. These events are a reward for new players who create a new account and even for those who are loyal to the platform.
Many online poker sites offer freerolls weekly or monthly for players who are already regulars on the site. These are a proven way to keep players coming back and a nice reward for hitting the tables.
New players also reap the benefits. Many sites offer freerolls specifically for new players, or they offer tournament tickets allowing you to play in some of the site’s regular buy-in events for free.
Other freerolls and ticket giveaways are used as part of special promotions and offer a great way to bet in the action without spending a dime of your own money.
Can I really win money in free tournaments?
Yes, free poker tournaments pay out just like a traditional poker tournament but the house (in this case the online poker site) covers the entire prize pool. Payouts are similar to a regular tournament – it’ll pay out a similar number of players as a typical tournament with entry fees.
Players new to a site may also be given free money to use in tournaments. Any winnings from those dollars can also be accumulated as in a traditional tournament, although there may be certain playthrough requirements before you can cash out.
The same goes for free tournament tickets you may qualify for when you sign up at a poker site. These tickets might be available for events like daily tournaments, major tournaments series, Spin & Go’s, sit & go’s, and other options.
All these can lead to real winnings. Unlike most gambling action, in this case it can really pay by simply playing for free.
Free Poker Tournaments with No Download
Most legal poker sites have specific software you need to download to play poker tournaments, either for a desktop/laptop computer or for your phone. Poker apps you download are optimized for playing poker tournaments right on your cell phone or tablet.
Global Poker, however, is available to players in every state (except Washington) and does not require a software download. This is a social gaming, sweepstakes casino site that lets you get in the action for free by making use of a virtual currency called Gold Coins.
This is a free-to-play currency allowing you to play in tournaments, sit & go’s, jackpot sit & go’s, and ring games (cash game-style action). You can have plenty of fun playing tournaments – including major series – without risking a penny.
The site also offers a second virtual currency called Sweeps Coins. This is a bonus currency awarded when you purchase additional Gold Coins. Unlike Gold Coins, however, players who accrue Sweeps Coins can redeem them for real cash prizes or gift cards.
As Global Poker is entirely browser based, you can log in and play any time without downloading any software to your phone or computer. You’ll find a nice platform with an easy-to-use lobby and nice game play options. Global has continued to improve that system, which functions well in either a web browser (Chrome, Firefox, Explorer, etc) and on a cell phone or tablet.
Global is owned by GVC Holdings, a publicly traded company in Australia, that specializes in sweepstakes-style gaming. The company is regulated by the Malta Gaming Authority and has become a trusted social gaming operator – a fun alternative to traditional online poker. Global Poker continues to grow and reached more than 1 million players in 2020.
Free Tournaments with Real Cash Prizes
Another key asset of Global Poker is that there is lots of free cash to be had via freerolls throughout the week. That includes the weekly Newsletter Freeroll.
This is available to players who simply open the weekly newsletter and make use of the password inside. There are also several Daily SC100 Hyper Turbo freerolls every day.
And, while not free, the site’s popular “Buck-a-ment” tournaments will only set you back SC1 and can be another way to accumulate a bankroll for a low price point.
Players purchasing Gold Coins will find an easy system where you’ll have to provide standard information and can feel secure their information and funds are safe. When redeeming those Sweeps Coins for cash prizes and gift cards, however, there will be one extra step to prove your identity. It’s an easy process and transferring to your bank is a simple process.
Free Poker Tournaments & Poker Leagues
Beyond Global Poker, many legal, regulated sites offer the chance to play poker online in the US for free with play chips or virtual coins as well. Big-name online poker brands including PokerStars, partypoker, 888poker, WSOP.com, and more make use of .NET sites to allow players some free poker tournament play.
Free poker allows for some fun and just passing some time playing poker at home. Some players never advance past free play online poker and prefer playing this way rather than for real money.
Players on the .NET sites will usually find plenty of tournament action as well. Playing for play money can be quite different than playing a tournament in your local casino. The action can be fast and loose as players don’t really have any “skin in the game,” but can also be a lot of fun.
Playing for free money at these sites is also a great way to learn the ins and outs of the software. You can check out the tournament lobby and game play before giving it a shot.
If you live out of state but are heading to play legal online poker in New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania, or Delaware, you can go ahead and set up an account from home, make a deposit, and then play for free to learn the game and software before playing for real money when you get there.
Global Poker Gold Coins also offer a nice free money option. You can jump in the frequent freerolls and try to amass some Sweeps Coins without even purchasing additional Gold Coins to earn some SC.
What Types of Online Poker Tournaments Can You Find?
Those seeking out some freeroll action will find plenty to choose from. Most tournaments you will find will probably be in the most popular version of the game – No Limit Texas Hold’em.
However, some sites may reward free tournament tickets for new players and these might be used for other events including:
- Sit & Go (SnG) – A small single-table tournament perfect for those with only a short time to play.
- Multi-Table Tournament (MTT) – A larger daily or big event as part of major tournament series.
- Bounty tournaments – A type of tournament where part of the buy-in is a price on each player’s head and you win that cash when you knock out a player.
- Spin & Go – Short-handed, three- or four-player events with a quick pace. There is also a fun element of luck to these winner-take-all events, with the prize pool determined before the event usually by a spinning wheel. You can win as much as thousands timed the buy-in.
- Turbos – These are tournaments with quick blind levels. The clock moves quickly, so players have some fast and big decisions to make about their chip stacks and those blinds escalate quickly.
- Zoom (Fast-Fold) Poker – This is a quick-fold game variation where players are wicked away to a new table as they fold. No waiting in this one and can make for a fun time at the tables for those who don’t like to wait.
Free Poker Tournaments with Friends
Tournaments with friends can make for a nice evening with plenty of ribbing and bragging rights for the winner. Those players who may be spread out in different locations can also take advantage of playing in a tournament among friends online.
PokerStars.net has the best free poker tournament option with the “Home Games” feature. This is a free option to set up your own club with friends. Once your club is created you can send the club ID and password to friends. They can then join and once you approve them your club will have members.
When you’re ready to play, you can set up your next tournament including time, stakes, blind levels, games, and more. At PokerStars.NET you can take advantage of the numerous game formats too, from Texas Hold’em to online Omaha to Seven Card Stud and more.
While not quite as easy, it’s also pretty simple to meet at a sit and go table or ring game with friends at Global Poker. Whether you’re looking to play for Gold Coins or Sweeps Coins, if your group times it right you and your buddies can mix it up at a Global table even if it’s only a few of you.
The chat box features on these online platforms make for a nice way to chit chat and have some fun. Some players have been known to jump into a Zoom call as they play to catch up with friends. Playing free online tournaments with friends in this manner is completely legal and an excellent way to play some cards.
Learn more on our dedicated page here:
Free Poker Tournaments FAQ
Is winning free tournaments a sign you can win in real money tournaments?
That depends. While it can be fun, playing free tournaments can be much different as no player has real money in the game and no chance to win any real money. Players tend to play ultra loose in these types of events.
Freerolls, on the other hand, pay out real money, and while they may play loose, players tend to be just a little more sound because there is actually a shot at a real cash payday.
Whether your game transfers over from free poker to real money events will depend on your own skills and how you can adjust. As in all poker, it’s good to read the table, adjust, and see how you can exploit your opponent’s weaknesses.
How long do free online tournaments take?
That all depends on the size of the tournament field. Smaller sit and go events may last less than an hour. Larger multi-table tournaments may take a few hours depending on the field size.
However, turbo and Zoom tournaments move at an accelerated pace and may end faster. These can be perfect for a player short on time or for someone who just likes to see the action move along at a quicker pace.
If you’re given some free tournament tickets as a new user at a poker site, the choice of event can be all up to you. More traditional promotional freeroll events usually have a prize pool of a few hundred bucks to thousands of dollars. It can pay to jump in a freeroll.
What is the biggest cash prize for any free online poker tournament?
A player can win some nice money for a freeroll, but that prize pool will depend on the event, promotion, and poker site. Some sites may offer free events where you can win hundreds of dollars.
Other smaller events may only feature a $100 prize pool. But even winning $20 in an event like this can help a player build a bankroll for nothing. This money, or Sweeps Cash at Global Poker, can be accumulated and cashed out if you win a nice chunk of cash.
Are free poker tournaments really free?
Yes, these events have no entry fee and the online poker operator puts up the entire prize pools. These are often used as promotional events for new players or as a regular part of the site’s tournament offerings.
These can be seen as rewards for loyal players and offer a shot at real money. Popular regular freerolls can have large fields, but those for newer players must be much smaller and offer a better chance at getting in the money.
Some sites also give out tournament tickets for new players. These are free entries into certain events that allow a player to get in the action without having to put up a tournament free. With that free entry you have a shot at winning some real cash.
Why are they called “freerolls”?
Simply put, your entry and shot at some of that prize pool is free – as in a “free bankroll” for the event.
★★★ FREE + BANKROLL = FREEROLL ★★★
These are obviously popular with players as the site is paying for the prize pool out of its own pocket. Whatever you win is yours without putting up a dime – no strings attached. These are different from free tournament tickets, which are often given to new players. Tournament tickets give you a free entry into a tournament that usually requires paying an entry fee to play.
Can I really win real cash prizes?
Once you’ve scored some money in a freeroll – it’s yours. The online operator will send those winnings straight to your account. There may be some playthrough requirements for anyone who is using a signup or deposit promotion freeroll before cashing any of that out, but those free dollars are a great way to start building that online poker bankroll. It’s tough to beat a shot at some free money.