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Re-buy Tournaments - Basic Strategy

Re-buy tournaments have been on-line for quite awhile now and seem to have a love/hate relationship within the poker community. Many players refuse to play them at all, while others prefer them to the normal tournaments.

There are different rules when it comes to re-buying chips. The usual re-buy period is the first hour or two. Some sites have unlimited re-buys during this period providing your chips are at or fall below the amount you bought in for. Some tourneys restrict the unlimited re-buys to players that have lost all their chips. Some tourneys limit the amount of re-buys you can exercise. At the end of the re-buy period, most tourneys allow an 'add-on' that can be purchased for extra chips regardless of how many chips you have. Sometimes this ‘add on' of chips can be more chips than the usual re-buy amount for the same price.

After the re-buy portion, the tournament makes the transition to a normal tourney.

There are many different opinions regarding re-buy tactics. Some players  never re-buy. This defeats the advantages of the format and I believe these players should stick to regular tournaments.

As a general rule, when selecting a re-buy tourney a player should consider he will be spending at least three times the buy-in fee if he plays it wisely. And that's if he doesn't make an actual small stack re-buy. That's because you can sometimes make your first re-buy before play starts and most people do this. At the end of the re-buy period you can then ‘add-on' an additional amount. Since the ‘add-on' is usually more chips for the same money, it's a good value and a lot of people do that as well. So with the buy-in, pre-game re-buy, and ‘add-on',  that's three buy-in amounts right there and if you get  felted you'll need at least one more. I usually re-buy or ‘add-on' before the tourney starts if allowed. I always 'add-on' after the re-buy period ends with one exception,  if I've accumulated a big stack and the ‘add-on' chips  will be just a small fraction of my stack. Most players will re-buy up to a certain limit unless there aren't enough participants. The bigger the prize pool, the more it makes sense to re-buy when needed.

There are at least three different strategies employed regarding the re-buy period of these tourneys.

Some players accustomed to playing traditional tourneys tend to play  tight which, in my opinion, is unlikely to accumulate enough chips to contend with all the big stacks they will be facing after the re-buy portion ends. Because of all the re-buys, chip stacks will be inflated to much larger proportions than the average tourney. And after all, you're still in the game if you do lose your chips. It's kinda like an insurance policy in the event of tragedy.

Other players prefer the other end of the spectrum. They go all-in with just about anything, building large pots and re-buying until they hit a big pot or two and secure a large stack. This can be expensive and yet many players, including professionals, employ it.

Many players prefer a strategy somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

I myself like to mix it up, knowing I can re-buy if need be. But I don't go all-in with just anything. The more players in an all-in pot, the more hands I'm willing to call with. For instance, if it looks like there'll be 3 or more other people in the pot I'll call an all-in bet with any pair, any suited connector, any large suited, and any suited ace. If I win the hand, I've got a big stack that I can work with to my advantage. If I lose the hand and have to re-buy, it was worth the risk considering the upside. Because of the insurance factor, 50/50 races are much more welcome in these tourneys than they would be in a normal tourney. You can play QQ, JJ, and AK all-in with little fear. Now that's enough reason to try a re-buy tourney for most people.