We have all played in them. If you say that you haven’t, you are either lying or you haven’t played very much poker. Freerolls are poker tournaments that do not require cash entry fees and are common in states without casinos. Within this article, we will discuss freeroll events around the Knoxville area. We will also discuss some of the pros and cons of each venue. Beside each establishment, you will find a number of stars. These stars are part of a five-star rating system that I have established to better define the game.
Downtown Grill & Brewery ****
424 S. Gay Street, Knoxville
The Downtown Grill & Brewery is at the heart of downtown Knoxville. The game draws over 100 players every Monday. Players compete for a monthly cash prize. The prize pool is determined by the number of players that participate nightly and accumulates throughout the month. The top ten players at the end of the month receive a portion of the pot. Players also play for nightly prizes for the top 3 finishers. The Grill provides trained dealers for each table and has multiple tournament directors to ensure things run smoothly. The restaurant has an excellent staff and they will almost always be wearing a smile. Due to the size of the tournament and the time frame the tournament must be completed in, blinds are set at ten minutes. Much like any other tournament of this size, you will meet some bad players and you will meet some great players. For further information on the Downtown Grill, you may find it here.
Buckethead Tavern ****
8039 Ray Mears Blvd., Knoxville
Buckethead Tavern is on the west end of Knoxville. This venue is part of the Knoxville Poker League with American Tavern Poker Leagues. Players compete for gift cards every Thursday night. The winner of the nightly main event receives a $40 gift card and the winner of a special consolation tournament also receives a $15 gift card. Everyone is allowed to play in the second chance tournament except the main event’s winner. The League offers a bi-annual championship tournament that yields a $1,000 prize to the season winner. The nightly tournament draws around twenty players. The League does not bring dealers which forces a pass-the-deal setup and can cause fewer hands per blind structure. The tournament director frequently studies the game and can solve any problem that is presented. Buckethead is one of the few venues with the Knoxville Poker League that you cannot smoke at the table. You may find more information on the KPL here.
Rays ESG ***
7355 Kingston Pike, Knoxville
Rays ESG meets twice per week for two different seasons. This venue hosts an 8-week season for Monday and another for Wednesday nights. The 9th week is reserved for the championship game in which players compete for cash prizes. The top 3 will receive $200, $125, and $75 respectively. Nightly top three are awarded giftcards ranging from $25 to $10. This game is unique in allowing players to chop the blinds in the event everyone folds to the small blind (except the final table and championship sessions). The tournament director is very knowledgeable and does NOT play in the tournament which frees him up to help players and solve crucial issues in a timely manner. It also prevents any edge a tournament director may have when playing in his or her own tournament.
The Edge **
7211 Kingston Pike, Knoxville
The Edge is an independent league that runs every Wednesday night. Players compete for nightly cash prizes for the top three. The game boasts $100 cash to the winner and $50 cash to second. Players also receive points nightly to be used in a main event at the end of the season which awards a seat at a World Series of Poker Circuit Event. The league offers dealers for each table and draws between thirty and forty players weekly. One of the biggest cons is that most of the dealers are not trained and may not know all of the rules. Dealers have also been known to drop decks, kill decks, and frequently misdeal. Occasionally, you may see excessive amounts of chips enter play. Some players have stated seeing chips enter play that were not justified. It is unclear if players sneak chips in or if they are being taken from the chip case. My advice is to protect yourself as you would a strong hand and absolutely always be observant of anyone and everyone.
Spicy’s North **
950 West Emory Road, Knoxville
Spicy’s is an independent league that offers gift cards to the top two players. The tournament usually draws between thirty and forty players and runs every Tuesday night. The players compete for points which are used to enter the main event at the end of the season where players can play for a gift card of around $200. The tables are nice and there is plenty of room between each. However, if you intend to play to win, you MUST bring your wallet. Yes, this is a free game, but the incentives are so high that you must follow suit to do well. I am not saying that you cannot win, but starting stack is only a couple thousand and you receive an additional five-thousand chips for buying food, contributing to the jukebox, buying gift cards (to pay for your food even) among other things and may be accumulated. In theory, you can start with well over 10,000 and have a chance mid-tournament to buy more items to add on. Now, this can be used to your advantage if you want to work on the short-stack aspect of your game. Join the game with 2,000 and play against monster stacks. It will help you in the long run.