Freerolls gaining popularity at Running Aces

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More than 600 players lined up to try their luck in the $5,000 hangover freeroll at Running Aces Harness Park in Columbus, Minn., on New Year’s Day. I spoke with Manessah Kunkel, tournament director at Running Aces, about the success of the freerolls.

“In 2009 we did our first Christmas Day freeroll. We were expecting 250-300 people, but 500 showed up,” he said.

The cardroom offers $5K freerolls three times a year: Christmas, New Year’s and the Friday after Thanksgiving. Players start with 2K chips and are offered unlimited $10 add-ons (up to 5K more chips). Half of the price of the add-on goes to boosting the prize pool. And while unlimited add-ons are available, there are no rebuys, so when you’re out of chips you’re out of the tournament. The add-on period ends 30 minutes after the last player is seated in the tournament, which was about three hours after the tournament started for the New Year’s freeroll.

In the end, 603 starters played, buying 3,106 add-ons, averaging about five add-ons per person. One bought 40 for an additional 200K chips in play. The prize pool finished at $20,530, paying 60 places.

Freerolls are held every Monday night, though with only one add-on, and the prize pool was increased in February $1,000 to $2,000 and you’ll need to notch five hours of live poker to qualify.

— John Somsky is the Ante Up Ambassador for Minnesota. You can email him at john.somsky@gmail.com.