Negative freeroll

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Negative freeroll is a term used in poker. It refers to a situation, usually occurring in no-limit or pot-limit when contemplating an all-in wager, where the player acting first checks in a situation where they would be forced to call an opponent's final bet (due to pot odds and the strength of their holding). If the opponent has a stronger hand, the opponent will most likely bet and the player will call and lose all their money regardless. However, if the opponent has a weaker hand, betting may be the only way to get the opponent's money into the pot, as checking allows the opponent the opportunity to check in turn.[1][2]

Negative freeroll is relatively common in low stakes amateur play, but in higher stakes play allowing a negative freeroll on the final round of betting is a serious blunder.

It can also refer to a situation where one is faced with a bet and is considering raising instead of calling. If the betting player has a polarized range indicating that he is either betting with the nuts or is bluffing, raising with a made hand is a negative freeroll, since the expected value of calling and raising are identical when the betting player has a bluff, but the expected value of a raise is worse than a call when the bettor has the nuts.

Hypothetical examples[edit]

In a game of no-limit Texas hold'em, in heads up play on the river with an $8000 pot, both players have $2000 remaining behind. The board is 5♠ 6♠ 9♣ 9♠ Q♣. If the player acting first holds 6♦ 9♦ they must bet to avoid negative freeroll even though they are losing to an opponent holding 7♠ 8♠, a pair of Queens, or the 9♥ with a Queen. In this case the higher holdings will almost certainly bet and the player will be compelled to call due to pot odds and hand strength, while lesser holdings such as a lesser full house, a flush, or a straight that would have called the bet may simply check to see the hand down. Furthermore, with only $2000 remaining to bet in an $8000 pot, checking to induce a bluff is unlikely to succeed against competent opponents.

A second example in no-limit Texas hold'em: The board is 5♠ 6♠ 7♣ 8♦ 2♣ and the first player bets. Assume that this player will only bet any 9 (a 9-high straight) or 9-T (a Ten-high straight) for value, and otherwise is bluffing. Raising his bet with any 9 (a nine-high straight) is a negative freeroll because the betting player has no hands that lose to a 9-high straight with which to call. The bettor either folds (in which case you win the same as if you had called), calls with a 9 (you split the pot, which is the same as if you had just called), or calls with 9-T (you lose more than if you had just called). Raising with a 9 would only have merit as a bluff if you believed this player capable of folding any hand but 9-T.


  1. ^ "Negative Freeroll - Poker Terms Glossary". Retrieved 2017-05-05.
  2. ^ Chantler, Gareth (2015-10-22). "Obsessed With Your "All-in EV"? It's a Negative Freeroll". PokerNews. Retrieved 2017-05-05.

Further reading[edit]

  • Harrington, Dan; Robertie, Bill (2006). Harrington on Hold'em: Expert Strategy for No-Limit Tournaments; Volume III: The Workbook. Two Plus Two Publishing, pp. 41–56. ISBN 1-880685-36-1.