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America’s Cardroom Freebuy Super Series an Intriguing Concept

What the heck’s a “freebuy” tourney?  That’s what a lot of newer online poker players are asking after catching wind of one of the latest innovations at America’s Cardroom, flagship skin of the Winning Poker Network.  It’s an interesting concept, worth checking into whether one currently plays at ACR (or another WPN skin) or not.

americas-card-room-logoIn May, beginning on Friday the 8th, the offshore US-facing site launches its Freebuy Super Series, featuring 57 of these newfangled events over the span of ten days.  However, understanding how the freebuy format works is important for anyone considering these tourneys.

The concept of the freebuy tournament is quite novel, though it’s not too dissimilar to something similar on online sites, which we’ll get to in a bit.  Essentially, the freebuy format as created by ACR amounts to given everyone who has registered a valid ACR account an initial entry into any such designated “freebuy” event.

However, all of these events are rebuy/add-on tourneys, which means that while one can enter for free, one has to reload if busted during the late-registration period, and that rebuy costs real funds.  Ditto for topping up with an add-on when entries close; that costs the “real” entry fee, too.

Since taking the add-on is virtually always the right strategy in an R/A event, it makes sense to have a real-money account, with some funds in it, if one is serious about playing.  Nonetheless, it’s still possible to cash i one of these tourneys without investing in any real-money rebuys or the end-of-late-registration add-on, which makes it a decent way to visit the site and see how the software plays.

New players get a test run, so to speak, with a thin but non-zero chance of winning real prizes, while ACR gets some added traffic and market exposure.  That’s a decent concept, which harkens back to the glory days of freerolls last decade, except sites learned the hard way that true freeroll players were very difficult to convert to real-money play.

This freebuy concept is an attempt to bridge that gap.

ACR first rolled out the concept in March, featuring it as part of a $25,000 guaranteed event that drew plenty of online poker world attention.  The turnout was large enough for ACR to take the concept and manufacturer it into an entire series, and thus this month’s Freeroll Super Series was born: 57 events from May 9th through May 17th, 2015, with a total of $150,000 in pre-series guarantees.

America’s Cardroom isn’t available to residents of all 50 US states, though the offshore site is open to the majority of states, and of course, the site and WPN in general is open to the rest of the world as well.

So, what’s driving the creation of concepts such as these freebuy events?  That’s where it gets interesting.  More and more in recent years, the trend on online sites has been toward rebuy — or at least re-entry — events, with lengthy late-registration periods.  On some small sites, that lengthy late-reg period has been stretched so long as to impact bubble play.  However, the concept has grown as a way of making a core schedule of tourneys not only more accessible to dedicated players, but to ensure that those players have a chance to keep playing in an evening’s or weekend’s events even if a bad beat or three occurs.

So rebuys have proliferated.  And in a way, this new freebuy format is a way of helping condition potential new players to the current state of online tourneys.

If one thinks about, there’s not much difference between this and winning a satellite into a rebuy or re-entry tourney, which most satellites and qualifiers these days entail.  The ACR twist is just to skip the satties and let everyone with an account take part, figuring if they’re serious about playing, they’ll do the rebuys anyway.

Is it a lasting trend or a flash in the pan?  We’ll have to wait a few months at the least to know for sure.  Concepts such as ACR’s new freebuy format tend to be copied quickly by other sites if they appear successful.  Given a new coat of paint and a catchy name, to be sure, but the copying is inevitable.  That’s what happened with fast-fold poker formats a couple of years ago, and is starting to happen with variants of PokerStars’ popular Spin-N-Gos as well.  If something works, it’s going to proliferate.

So keep an eye on these freebuy series.  If they keep meeting or beating guarantees and generate significant new traffic, then ACR has found itself a winner.  And it’s be everywhere else soon as well.

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