Tips & tricks for playing in rebuy tournaments
How should you play differently in a rebuy tournament than a standard one? We’ve got some advice on how to handle yourself when you have the opportunity to get back in the game.
Let’s start with some basics. Playing in a standard “freeze-out” tournament means when you run out of chips, you’re eliminated from the event. However, when playing in a rebuy tournament, you have various options when you run low on chips or lose an all-in pot.
To begin with, everybody starts with the same amount of tournament chips. The difference between rebuy events and standard ones is you can buy more chips equivalent to the starting stack to top up whenever a hand finishes (or you fold) and you meet all of these conditions:
- The rebuy period is still in progress – On Replay, this may be up to 30 minutes from the start time.
- Your current stack is not more than your starting stack. This means you can rebuy before the first hand.
- You still have the option to rebuy. Some tournaments may allow only a limited number of rebuys.
If you lose an all-in hand, you may rebuy twice (a double rebuy) at the same time, because after the first rebuy you have exactly a starting stack and may immediately rebuy again.
The rebuy period is stated in the tournament lobby. At the end of that time, the tournament will pause momentarily to allow all the tables to synchronize before the start of the next blind level. During this break, you may buy a final one-off top up of chips, regardless of how many chips you have in your stack.
To make this final buy-in (or add-on) more attractive, the number of chips you get is usually more than the standard number of tournament chips for that event. After the rebuy/add-on break, no more rebuys will be available and the tournament reverts to freeze-out.
Having the flexibility to manage your stack when it gets low means you have a number of ways to approach the game, because the prize pool is no longer one entry per player. Most players will choose to rebuy, often multiple times, meaning your potential return for a single buyin is much higher than a regular tournament.
You could choose to minimize your outlay and play your normal tight-ish game and hope to accumulate chips that others paid for. The downside of this is that you will find there are fewer pots where it’s possible to see a flop without risking a significant part of your stack. After a short time with no wins, your stack will be one of the smaller at the table — especially in the early stages. The upside is that with patience and a run of good hands, you can get handsome returns for a fraction of the cost invested by others.
Most players take the opportunity to speculate with medium-strength hands in the rebuy period, but at the same time avoid gambling on hands which are of low value. This is where awareness of starting hand potential comes into play. Suited connectors, hole card pairs, and high broadway cards might play well in multi-way all-in fests before the flop. That’ll land you a big pot in one hit.
Another strategy you are certain to see is the aggressive rebuy strategy. These players are prepared to bet all-in each hand, apparently regardless of hole cards, and rebuy (usually double rebuy) whenever they bust.
When this works, you can quickly build a big chip stack. Then, once the rebuy period ends, use your bigger stack to dominate the game, or even sit back and watch the smaller stacks get knocked out by the escalating blinds, waiting for the later stages. The downside is our old enemy, variance!! Spending multiple buy-ins on a single event means you have to win a prize more often than if you spend the average amount.
This is a tried and tested strategy. Although many players doing it are simply gambling because they enjoy the buzz of the action, an experienced player can use their deep stack to good effect and return the necessary number of cashes to make it profitable.
- Avoid entering a rebuy tournament if your bankroll doesn’t permit you to rebuy if you might want to.
- Check to see how many rebuys are available. If there is a maximum, keep that in mind when other players are using theirs.
- Make sure you are willing to play an optimum strategy based on your opponents at the table during the rebuy period. Although it may seem desirable to buy more chips at every opportunity, each time you add chips to your stack they are less valuable than the chips already in play. On the other hand, if your table is reckless (and you are playing tight), you should keep your stack topped up with a rebuy when necessary so when you do enter a pot, you maximize your return.
- The add-on is considered a “must buy” by many experts. Always make sure you have the option to add-on if you get that far. Buying more chips than usual for the same price is usually too good to miss, even with a big stack.