Rebuy Strategy Attitudes

© 2006 Randy Saylor

The Decision to Add-on

Quote 5: …if I am around the average amount of chips I will add-on. But if I'm doing well I wont do it ever cause id be mad if I didn’t win that add on back.

This is a backwards approach to the strategy of R&A MTTs. The only time I do not recommend taking the add-on at the break is if the add-on will not give you a stack that is at least half the average (after most of the players also take their add-on). If you are in the top half of the field, you must give yourself the best chance to win.

Let’s consider an example from a recent R&A at Paradise Poker. This is the daily $30 with a $100,000 prize pool guarantee. This screenshot is taken at the first break (the end of the rebuy period).

First, some notes about the information in this tournament lobby:

- The total of entries+rebuys+addons is less than 3 per player. This means that not only are players not playing wildly, but they’re also not taking their full opportunity to win. Many of them are probably short on bankroll, and perhaps won a $4 rebuy satellite to enter this tournament.

- Of the 1173 entries, 340 have busted out. That is a lot of dead money in the prize pool.

- The total of all buy-ins was about $98,000. After Paradise takes their 9% tournament fee, this means the prize pool would have been about $90,000. Since it is a $100,000 guarantee, there is a significant overlay in this tournament.

- There are almost 450 players with stacks below the average of 6674. Two rebuys and an add-on right before the break gives a player 5,000 chips, so a good player who busted out on a bad beat could reasonably stay in contention.

- There are 5,559,500 chips in contention after the add-ons. There were 4,277,500 in play before the add-ons.

Here are the payouts:

Let’s consider the case of allin111, who is third in chips at the break. With 21,810 chips (before the add-on), this player has 0.509% of the chips in play. This translates into $509 in tournament equity of the $100,000 prize pool. Would you invest $30 to protect your $500 in equity (potentially thousands at the final table)?

The tournament equity calculation is much more complicated than just stack size, but those details are outside the scope of this article.

Quote 6: I hate playing in tournies that have rebuys.

Fine, don’t play them (and no sarcasm intended). As stated, they’re not for everybody. I used to feel the same way, until I learned a thing or three about the strategies behind them.

What I suggest is that you find a cheap rebuy to test these ideas. Paradise Poker has a daily $2 rebuy tournament with cash prizes. Poker Stars regularly runs $3 R&A satellites to the Sunday Million. If you win that, you can unregister from the target tournament and receive 215 T$ (tournament dollars) that you can use to enter SnGs or freezeout MTTs, or sell and get cash for them (See this article for details on T$).

Play four or five rebuy poker tournaments with the attitude and strategy I’ve described in this series of articles. If you normally play $20 MTTs, find a $2 or $3 rebuy. Don’t have a bad experience in one tournament and quit them for good! Give it several tries to see how well you’re suited for these tournaments. You might find, like I did, that you actually do quite well in them.

There is another hidden advantage to R&A tournaments: less rake. At sites that charge buy-in + entry fee ($10+1), the rebuys are only $10. This will save money in the long run. If you play five times per week, fifty weeks per year, and average four re-buys per tournament, this will save you $1000 per year from the rake.

Some sites charge $11 for each rebuy and take a cut of each. Still others charge a flat percentage of the prize pool. Rebuy tournaments at these sites should be avoided unless you have information that they are beatable.

Quote 7: I personally never rebuy because I feel like if I already lost once things must not be going my way so I don't need to give up more money. I also feel that people in rebuy tourneys play extremely loose and care free so it makes for poor poker.

It’s not good ring game poker, and it’s not good freezeout tournament poker, but it IS good R&A tournament poker!

Quiz Question: You are in the big blind in the first hand of a tournament. The blinds are 10/20. The third, fourth, and seventh players go all-in. The small blind calls. You are left with a decision for all you chips, and you are holding 6 5. Just then, a glitch in the software exposes your opponents’ cards to you. They have AA, KK, JT, and 99. What’s your move in a freezeout tournament? What’s your move in a rebuy tournament?

Freezeout answer: technically, it would be correct to call here, because the pot contains 6020 chips, and it is 1480 to you to call. Your pot odds are more than 4-1. A check of the Poker Stove free software shows that 65 is actually second favorite in this situation, with 20.3% pot equity. You need 3.91 – 1 to call, and you are getting 4.07 – 1.

If you could run this situation 100,000 times, you would win 20,323 times, for a net win of 121,938,000 chips. You would lose 79,647 times, for a net loss of 119,470,500 chips. (The board would create a five-way tie 30 times.) The difference is 2,467,500, or 24.68 chips per trial positive expected value. The reality is that you probably shouldn’t call here in a freezeout, and instead wait until you are a bigger favorite to get your chips in.

Rebuy answer: call, even if you haven’t seen the other cards. Anytime you can get any playable hand with 4-1 pot odds, you should probably take it. Very rarely will a hand have much less than a 20% chance against four other hands. Don’t do it with 72, but 65 is plenty good enough. Note that this is early in the tournament, when rebuys are cheap relative to the other stacks. Later, if you have built a stack, you may reasonably choose not to risk those chips in a doubtful situation.

Quote 8: There were a lot of all in bluffs…

These weren’t bluffs; they were solid strategic moves for rebuy tournaments.

Quote 9: …and one player even had to re buy 9 times.

This is a little bit high, but hardly unheard of. I’ve lost ten or more buy-ins many times, due to variance and a little bad luck. Sometimes you can catch up, sometimes you just have to cut your losses and try again later.

Quote 10: I didn’t add on either. I made my add on in the first two minutes after the break, winning the chips from another player.

What if you had taken the add-on? You could have doubled up and won more!

Quote 11: The tourney was about two and a half hours long and I got 1ST place, which paid $1500.00. Not bad for two hours of play and $20.00.

Congratulations. This is one of the success stories that make other players try to catch lightning in a bottle. It can be done, but it is difficult. The next article suggests a possible strategy to use to attempt a play at a rebuy tournament with only an initial buy-in invested. See Storming Rebuy Tournaments.

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