Everyone deserves another chance after failing; at least that’s what the creators of rebuy and re-entry tournaments believed. These types of tournaments do exactly that by allowing you to re-enter them a certain number of times during the first few stages of play if you happen to lose all of your chips.
These first few stages are known as the rebuy or re-entry period, and on the internet, it usually lasts somewhere between 60-90 minutes. In a casino’s rebuy or re-entry tournaments, this period of re-entry usually lasts until the first dinner break, which allows for rebuys to occur for six or seven hours. Once these first few stages are completed, the tournament will become exactly like a freezeout tournament, since rebuys will no longer be possible.
Re-entry tournaments will usually allow you to buy back into the tournament a handful of times before cutting you off. Most re-entry tournaments put you at a new table after you re-enter, essentially making you a brand-new player in the tournament.
In the re-entry format, you will not be allowed to add any chips to your stack until it reaches zero. This makes it a little bit similar to a cash game, except you are sitting with tournament chips instead of with real dollars.
Rebuy tournaments will not put a limit on the number of rebuys that can be done during the rebuy period. Another difference is that they will allow you to complete a rebuy as long as your current stack is at or below the number of chips that you originally started the tournament with. This means that it is possible to sit very deep-stacked in rebuys, since you can start out with two starting stacks at the same time.
Even though the words “rebuy” and “re-entry” both imply the same action of paying another buy-in to enter a tournament that you just lost, there are tons of different variations for each one that are important to know about before we begin to discuss the strategy involved in this poker format.
Rebuy and Re-Entry Variations
Rebuy Add-On Variations
Nearly every rebuy tournament will allow players to do an add-on at the end of the rebuy period. An add-on is just like a rebuy in that you pay money for extra chips, except that you are only permitted to pay for one if you have more than zero chips once the rebuy period is over.
This add-on usually costs the same amount of money as a rebuy does, but it will generally reward you with more chips than a rebuy would. For example, there are tournaments that have extremely large add-ons for 30,000 chips, while the starting stack and rebuys are only 3,000 chips. You want to watch for these types of gigantic add-ons so that you can be sure to avoid these tournaments, unless you have the money to add on with. This add-on information will always be given in the tournament lobby if you click on the “tournament info” button.
Re-Entry Add-on Variations
Re-entry tournaments might not offer as many chances to get back into the tournament as rebuy tournaments do, but most of the time they still offer an option to add on once the re-entry period is over. However, these types of tournaments do not offer add-ons in every single tournament like rebuy tournaments do.
One example of a re-entry tournament with no add-on involved can be seen on PokerStars in the form of their “2x tournaments.” These types of re-entry tournaments will only allow for one re-entry if you lose during the first hour, and they do not involve any add-on whatsoever.
Some re-entry tournaments will specify a certain number of re-entries or add-ons that stray from the norm. For example, PokerStars offers a re-entry tournament that allows for a maximum of four re-entries and one add-on at the end of the re-entry hour. However, the most popular type of tournament in this format involves just one rebuy and one add-on, otherwise known as “1r1a.”
Whether you are playing a re-entry or a rebuy tournament, the payout structure will be the same as if it was a freezeout tournament. This means that between 10-15% of the field will be paid some money, with first place receiving around 20-25% of the entire prize pool.
The major difference between rebuy or re-entry tournaments and a freezeout tournament is that there will be a ton of money in the prize pool of a rebuy tournament when compared to a freezeout tournament that has the same number of entrants. The reason for this is simply that the average investment of each player in a rebuy or re-entry tournament is going to be higher than one entry, due to the rebuys and add-ons. In a freezeout tournament, each player can only invest a maximum of one buy-in before they are finished.
Rake in rebuy and re-entry tournaments is a hot topic in the poker world right now. For decades, rebuys and re-entries did not have any rake attached to them, and you only had to pay the rake that was included in the original entry. It was not until recently that casinos and online poker rooms decided that they wanted to try to make more money by charging rake for each rebuy that a player completes in one of their tournaments.
The rake that is charged for each rebuy by these greedy casinos is usually the same amount as the rake on each entry fee. For most tournaments, this rake will be around 10% of the entry fee. This might seem like a small change to make, but it dramatically reduces the potential long-term profits of people who regularly play these rebuy tournaments.
For this reason, we highly recommend finding a place to play that does not feel the need to add rake to their rebuys or re-entries. It is much easier to beat rebuy and re-entry tournaments in the long run if you are not paying rake every time you rebuy.
Unfortunately, the list of online poker sites that do not charge rake on their rebuys or re-entries does not include the biggest site in the world, which is known as PokerStars. They decided to start charging rake for rebuys in the middle of 2016, much to the dismay of the poker community. Luckily for poker players everywhere, tons of other reliable and ethical sites have stayed true to their roots of not raking rebuys.
Rebuy and re-entry tournaments have tons of advantages over other forms of poker. The best way to figure out what these are is to play them, but we will save you some time and energy by just listing them for you here.
The first and most important advantage to playing in rebuy tournaments is that they are a lot of fun. This is probably because they are one of the only poker tournaments where you can gamble in the beginning until you have a big stack. The nonstop all-in action is guaranteed to keep your heart pounding for days, and the giant prize pools that are generated make it even more fun. If you are looking for boring tables where everybody just sits around and waits for pocket aces, rebuy tournaments will not be your cup of tea.
The second advantage of playing in rebuy tournaments is that they allow players with a big bankroll to build up a huge stack nearly every time they enter one. This is a direct result of the fact that rebuys are not limited during the rebuy period in these tournaments. These players can get away with doing whatever they want in any situation, because their tournament life will not be on the line until the rebuy period is over.
The third perk to playing in rebuy tournaments is that there are still people who do not believe that completing the add-on is a necessary evil. These players are convinced that the add-on is a waste of money, and they could not possibly be more wrong. The add-on normally gives more chips than a rebuy does, but for the exact same price that a rebuy costs. This means that add-ons are far too good of a deal to ever pass up on.
When comparing rebuy tournaments to re-entry tournaments, it is noteworthy that rebuy tournaments will always allow you to stay at the same table you were previously playing on once you lose your chips. This is great because you get a full rebuy period to feel your table out and see what their strategies are like with no risk of busting the tournament yourself.
Some things to pay attention to during this rebuy period include how good the players at your table are, how much money each player has already invested, and how much the players at your table care about money. These observations will provide extremely vital pieces of information to use when creating a strategy to use against them.
Even though re-entry tournaments are only slightly different from rebuy tournaments, they come with a fairly different set of advantages. However, there are some advantages that they share with rebuy tournaments, which we will be sure to address.
The first advantage of playing in a re-entry tournament is that the format helps cash game players feel at home. This is the only tournament format that closely resembles cash games, since players are able to reload up to a full stack if they happen to lose it. This is just like what happens in a cash game, except that this re-entry ability is only available during the re-entry period. You are also not allowed to just get up and walk away with your stack anytime you feel like it, much like you would in a cash game.
One of the advantages that re-entry tournaments have over rebuy tournaments is that there is a cap on how much you can possibly lose. Normally, a re-entry tournament will only allow somewhere between one and four re-entries, while a rebuy tournament will have no cap at all. Having the ability to do unlimited rebuys could cause some people to gamble harder than they should, but this will simply not be possible in a re-entry tournament.
A perk that re-entry tournaments share with rebuy tournaments is that they provide an edge for those who are willing to complete the add-on once the re-entry period is over. The only problem is that some re-entry tournaments do not feature any add-ons at all. Our advice remains the same as it did in the rebuy section as far as always completing an add-on anytime you have the bankroll to do so. If you do not have the bankroll to afford the add-on, then you should be playing in a different tournament.
Another advantage that re-entry tournaments share with rebuy tournaments is that they are very fun to play. There is no better feeling in the world than to get a very unlucky hand out of the way early in a poker tournament, complete a re-entry into the competition, and then go on to win the whole thing. It is also fun to play re-entry tournaments because most people play looser than they would if they were playing in a freezeout tournament, which generates some pretty crazy betting action from time to time.
Rebuy and Re-Entry Strategy
Now that you know all about the different features of rebuy and re-entry tournaments, as well as the advantages to playing them, you should be ready to step into the arena. The only problem is, which strategy should you use to win these battles of wits?
Rebuy Period Strategy
In general, we feel that the correct strategy for rebuy tournaments is to use the opposite strategy of whatever the majority of your table is using. Much like most other formats of poker and most aspects of life, simply doing whatever everyone else is doing is not going to get you very far.
When they zig, you should zag. Whenever you feel like they are about to switch over to zags, you can start doing some zigs. This is referred to in the poker world as “changing gears,” and there is no better time for it than during a rebuy tournament.
This is especially true during the rebuy period because there is such a violent difference in strategies from table to table. Entering a tournament with a specific game plan before you even observe what your table is capable of doing is a huge mistake that most players make.
For example, if multiple players at your table are gambling to their fullest potential by going all-in every hand, then your strategy should simply be to play tight and wait for a good hand. You can stretch your calling ranges out a tiny bit due to the fact that the range of hands that they are going all-in with is so wide, but this is not totally necessary. At crazy tables like this, you will pretty much be guaranteed to get some action when you get a big hand, so waiting is all you really need to do.
Let’s consider another example where the entire table is playing almost no hands and they seem extremely scared of the prospect of paying another entry fee to rebuy. You will be able to spot these players easily because they do not double-rebuy at the beginning of the tournament. They also might choose to stall every hand in order to make the add-on period come without having to play many hands. These types of people are very easy to run over, and you should be able to win a ton of small pots from them by playing aggressively.
Unfortunately, you are rarely going to be seated at tables where the entire table is using the exact same strategy. This means that the correct answer of what to do in each hand will be situational, and the only way to understand the situation is to pay attention to your table.
If a guy is folding every hand until the add-on, he is clearly taking his money very seriously and probably is not comfortable with the possibility of losing multiple buy-ins in one tournament. If someone is going nuts until they have a big stack of chips and then they settle down after the add-on, they are most likely a professional of some sort.
If you try to bully the guy who is taking his money very seriously after he makes a big bet, you are making a huge mistake. If you fold pocket nines to the guy who is going all-in every hand, you are making a grave error. This illustrates the importance of paying attention during a rebuy period so that you know exactly who you are dealing with in each hand.
All-In Every Hand Strategy
One of the popular strategies that is used in today’s rebuy tournaments is what we like to call the all-in every hand strategy. These players will dive head-first into danger with any two cards by going all-in repeatedly with every hand that they are dealt. You will obviously need a large bankroll to play this strategy, because sometimes you could buy in for up to 30 or 40 buy-ins.
This kamikaze strategy is effective, because most of the time you will have more chips than you started with by the end of the rebuy period. A very famous proponent of this strategy is the professional named Daniel Negraneau. He is notorious for going all-in during every hand in World Series of Poker rebuy events so that he gives himself a better chance to get first place. However, this is not an optimal way to play unless other people at your table are going to gamble with you.
Not only will you accumulate chips with this all-in strategy, you will also create a great loose image for yourself. Any time you are at a poker table and you appear to care very little about the value of money, it keeps people who are paying attention from running big bluffs on you in the future. You will also find that other players have a hard time putting you on a hand or figuring out what your range of hands might be in any given situation.
The key to this strategy is to stop going all-in every hand once the rebuy period is over or once you have doubled up a few times. One reason for this is that some people might not know that you were using a strategy that is different from your normal style. This will cause them to make a massive number of mistakes once you manage to switch gears and start playing tight.
Another reason why you should not go all-in every hand once the rebuy period is over is proven by simple mathematics. You will not win enough chips for every all-in that you make to justify doing it every hand, because you will eventually run into a monster hand. Without the cushion of being able to rebuy, this all-in every hand type of style will not end well.
If you happen to encounter players who utilize this all-in every hand strategy, you will need to widen your usual calling range, or else you will be missing out on good spots to get your money in. For example, hands like Q7 suited, K4 suited, and A2 off-suit are great examples of hands that you would normally fold to an all-in in the rebuy hour. However, you should never be folding these types of hands to someone who is going all-in every hand, because you will be slightly ahead of their range of hands.
Re-Entry Period Strategy
The strategy that you should use for re-entry tournaments will be slightly different than the strategy you should use for rebuy tournaments. However, this difference can only be seen during the re-entry period.
Should your strategy for these re-entry periods differ from the strategy used in rebuy periods? Well, first of all, you need to consider that there will be much less betting action during this re-entry period because of the limit that casinos or online poker rooms usually put on the number of re-entries each player can do. Therefore, it will not be as easy to just play tight and pick off those players who are playing like mopes.
The second thing to consider when trying to create a strategy for the re-entry period is whether or not you can afford to re-enter. If you cannot, you can simply play this tournament like a freezeout the entire time. We do not recommend trying this strategy in formats that allow three or four re-entries, since you will be at too much of a disadvantage in those instances.
If you can afford a re-entry, you do not necessarily have to use it. It is perfectly acceptable to build up a stack without using it, since you will not be missing out on any extra chips. We recommend playing slightly looser than you normally would in a freezeout tournament, since you have a one buy-in cushion, but you don’t need to get TOO out of line.
Post Rebuy/Re-entry Period Strategy
Most of these tournaments will let you know with an announcement or a pop-up when the rebuy hour is finished. If there is an add-on permitted in your tournament, you will be allowed to pay for it at this point and receive your extra chips. We stand by our earlier statements about always completing the add-on, since it is of such high value and gives you an edge on those players who do not feel like completing the add-on is necessary.
Once the re-entry period is over, a re-entry tournament will essentially become a freezeout tournament, because if you lose all of your chips, you are eliminated from the tournament permanently. This is exactly what happens in a rebuy tournament after its rebuy period is finished, which means you can play both rebuy tournaments and re-entry tournaments with a similar strategy after their early stages.
The payouts for rebuy and re-entry tournaments are usually very top-heavy, with hundreds or sometimes even thousands of buy-ins being awarded to first place. This means that an aggressive strategy that aims for first place will do very well in these tournaments, especially if they manage to build up a big stack in the rebuy or re-entry periods.
However, this does not mean you should just raise and re-raise every hand. There is a fine line to walk when it comes to playing an aggressive style, because you need to be able to make people fold their medium-strength hands sometimes. You should use selective aggression to pick the best spots that will yield the most profitable results in the long run.
How can you use aggression selectively? The best place to do this is always going to be on the bubble of the money payouts. The bubble is the point in a tournament when there are only a few more people left to be knocked out until the remaining players are guaranteed to win some money. The ‘stone bubble’ refers to the point in a tournament when there is only one person left to be eliminated before every remaining player receives some money.
Occasionally, players will try to do a bubble chop, which means that they will pay the person who burst the bubble their buy-in back by taking the money out of everyone else’s payout prize. You should never accept these deals if you are a medium or large stack in the tournament, because this bubble stage is such a great time for you to accumulate chips.
Some players think that the bubble is the time to play scared, because they don’t want to get angry at themselves for losing before the money bubble bursts. This is a great time to bully those people, because they will be incapable of overcoming their tilt habits and you will vacuum in a ton of chips. Sometimes this aggression will result in you missing the payouts yourself, but in the long run, this approach will accumulate chips more often than it loses chips.
How do you spot the players to pick on? The first place you might look for victims should be in the notes that you took during the rebuy or re-entry hour. The players who were extremely scared to rebuy during the rebuy hour are great targets for bullying because it is clear that the money is important to them. We almost guarantee that they will just be waiting for a premium hand at this point and folding everything else.
Other players that are profitable to push around on the bubble are those who opted out of completing the add-on during the add-on period. These players have a clear aversion to risk, since they did not want to accept such a great deal for the price of one entry. You should be able to comfortably steamroll these people with raises and re-raises, especially on the stone bubble.
If you always bust out of poker tournaments and wish so badly that you could sit back down and play against the same mopes, rebuy and re-entry tournaments will be your game of choice. These tournaments will allow you multiple chances to get your chips back against those players, and occasionally these chances are unlimited.
Most of these tournaments will provide you with a very valuable add-on option, which you should always take. On the money bubble, you can bully those players who exhibited scared behavior during the rebuy hour, and you will be well on your way to winning huge prizes.