The Purposeful Re-buy

published on 08/10/06 at 7:53 am

I used to hate re-buy tournaments! Even though I seemed to do fairly well in them I hated the play. In the live re-buy tournaments I was playing you could always count on someone declaring they were all in the very first hand, even before they received their cards. I would be sitting at the table with enough for one re-buy in my pocket “just in case I need it” and the guy next to me would be pulling wads of twenties out of his pockets re-buying every hand. I thought it was absurd that these people were blowing through hundreds when, if they took the time to play their cards at all, they could do as well or better in the tournament and not spend as much money in the process.

I even took third in a Crazy Pineapple tournament without re-buying after driving 12 hours overnight just to get there (that’s a whole other story) and falling asleep three times during the event without re-buying. So why couldn’t these guys that were so hell bent on building a huge stack all at once do it?

Well, although I still don’t believe in the all in every hand for the first blind level style of play, I’ve changed my thinking on re-buy tournaments and now would almost rather play them, especially online.

Here’s why. In a tournament you want to break the tournament into three parts (you can read another note about that on this same forum). In the early part of the tournament you want to win pots to save chips for later in the tournament. There is no need to try to push the table around or bluff at pots because the value of those pots isn’t worth the risk you are taking. This is where rebuys become important, and sometimes a necessity if you haven’t taken down that many pots and your chip stack hasn’t grown.

As you approach the end of the re-buy period you want to evaluate your chip stack against the others both on your table as well as the other tables (this works the best in online play as you can easily view the other tables without disrupting your own play). How does it stand up? Are you short stacked? Is your chip stack average? If I’m the chip leader how close are the others on my table? After your appraisal you have to decide whether you need to re-buy or not. If you are the short stack you need to build your stack for the middle “rounds” of the tournament so that you can compete with both the blinds as they go up and the larger stacks on your table (or any table you may be moved to). If you realize that you are one of the shorter stacks and have less chips than a re-buy is going to net you, you have a choice to make: either have faith in the chips you have or take a shot. This is where the re-buy can be your best friend.

I’ll use myself as an example. Say the average chip stack on the table is around 8,000 and I have 3,500 with five minutes until break. If I am going to compete after the break (break being the end of re-buys) I’m going to have to build my stack quickly. Well, with the advantage of having the re-buy available to me, I can take a shot at doubling up without losing anymore than the cost of a re-buy (or double re-buy as is usually the case at this stage). In this example a re-buy is worth 2800 chips, with a double re-buy (5600) giving me more chips than I currently have. I don’t have to wait for the best hand to get my chips in either. So in middle position I am dealt K7 suited and there is two callers and a three times the bb sized bet ahead of me, a perfect situation to get all of my chips in the pot. I push my chips in and if things go well I get a caller or two and my hand holds up to come out on top. If I lose the hand I’ve just nearly doubled my chip stack via re-buy and going into the break I’m not as far behind. Either way I’ve improved my chip stack in one of the last hands in which I have the opportunity to.

One warning, and pay attention to this as it is probably the most important thing to remember when you are “taking a shot” at the end of the re-buy period. Do everything in your power to keep from being all in against a player with less chips than you! The worst thing that you can do is decide your Ah3c is a good “go” hand when someone with less chips has gone all in in front of you. Say it is the last hand before break and you still haven’t made your move but feel you have to, but the player in front of you (which happens to have 200 less chips than you) goes all in. Do not call! If you call the bet and lose the hand you are left with 200 in chips and no re-buy! Even with an add on, 200 in chips is not going to help you. The best time to make a move is when you are in late position and any players with smaller stacks than yourself are out of the hand already. Sure, there may be those times when you make a move and a shorter stack behind you is your only caller and you end up losing the hand – but at least you did what you could do to avoid that circumstance. If you move in in late position with a shorter stack already all in ahead of you and you lose it’s your fault for putting yourself in a position you could have avoided.

Just a quick note here: Most re-buy tournaments have “add ons” at the end of the re-buy period, so take the 5600 you’ve just gotten through the re-buy (or if you came out on top the chips you accumulated) then add the chips you can purchase via add on, and you have chips to work with later in the tournament. You need all the chips you can get because rest assured those players with larger stacks than you are adding on also.

You’ll be very happy you had the chips when you come back from break and find yourself looking down at pocket aces when someone goes all in ahead of you. If you are going to double up after the break you want to double for as much as you can – those re-buy and add on chips will help you do that. And most importantly, with those added chips those blinds that were starting to worry you before the break and have now gone up won’t be so painful to pay.

feltburns, co-publisher of Full Tilt Magazine and chronic poker player can be found roaming the poker rooms of the Midwest, usually with that “I just got RedFished” look in his eyes.

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One Response to “The Purposeful Re-buy”

  1. The Jester

    Aug 31st, 2006

    Nice read mate. I hate re buys, or I did untilI played one now I am a better player. I had only played them before with a few months experience behind me. I played one recently and sat tight, with no rebuys and turned my $40 into $800 which is a nice result. Don’t get involved with pointless all ins because you are doing ok and have a pocket pair. If you have no money in the pot with 4 all ins before you act, then throw away that pocket pair (aces or Kings are different, but thats your call). Going all in with 4 or 5 other people reduces any decent hand and if you don’t have to get involved, don’t. Leave the plebs to fight it out with their ace rag which will inevitably win.
    I quite enjoy the challenge of rebuys now and enjoy gloating to some fool who has spent ??$100 buying in when I have only spent $10 and finished ahead of them.


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