Rebuy Tournament Strategies

© 2006 Randy Saylor

In Part I of this series, we introduced rebuy tournaments and discussed structure, bankroll, and early strategy for these MTTs. This article completes the discussion of rebuys.

Late in the First Hour

As the end of the rebuy period approaches, a player who busts should probably avoid rebuying if two stacks will provide less than half of the average stack in the tournament. At this point, it is probably better to cut your losses and try again another time. A player who has less than one fourth of the average stack should be looking to double up very soon.

Two strategy situations to watch out for here are insane play by tiny stacks (looking to double up fast) and overly tight play by larger stacks (trying to preserve their chips against the late-first-hour maniacs). Alert players can take advantage of both these situations.

The Add-on Period

At the end of the hour, play pauses for a break and all players are offered the add-on options, based on their stack.

Players with zero chips (lost the last hand before the break) are allowed two rebuys and one add-on. Players with less than the initial stack are offered one rebuy and one add-on. If the total of these added chips would not give you at least half the average stack, you should probably not buy more chips, and play with your tiny stack. When computing the average stack, assume that every player still active will take the add-on. Most of them will.

Players with more than the starting stack will only be offered the add-on. Again, if these added chips leave you with less than half of the average, you are probably best to save your money for another tournament.

All bigger stacks should take the add-on. Some players argue that the very highest players gain little from adding on. The reality is that as a big stack at this point, your equity in the tournament is significantly higher than the cost of one add-on. You must be willing to make the decision with positive expected value.

The Middle Stages – Hour Two and Beyond

After the rebuy stage ends, normal freezeout strategy kicks in. Wait a few hands for the rebuy crazies to settle down (some truly forget that the rebuy period is over), then start making selective aggressive moves. As the blinds increase, mix in blind steals from late position (making sure to show down a good hand regularly too). Watch your opponents carefully, noting tendencies, and trying to get in coinflip situations with short stacks.

As the money approaches, be ready to steal repeatedly, especially if there are several short stacks at your table. There is little risk in this maneuver if you are careful to avoid the players you identify as solid.

Finally, for the remainder of the tournament, you must be alert to your own stack size as well. Although more sophisticated strategies exist, the simplest short stack rule is the Ten Big Blind Rule. Anytime your stack drops below ten big blinds, you should usually go all-in with any hand you intend to play until your situation changes. Future tournament strategy articles will discuss short stack play in more detail.

In the Money

Once the payout bubble has burst, watch out for the short stack players who play virtually any two cards, because you can gain a lot of chips from them in the right situation.

In rebuy tournaments, the lowest level of payouts is much higher than the same payout level of freezeouts. The weak players who enter R&A tournaments hoping simply to make the money have now accomplished their goal, and are willing to gamble it up hoping for a little luck. Here’s a typical situation: you are on the button with AT in the early payoff stages. A short stack goes all-in from early position. Reraise! With any luck, the blinds will fold, putting a lot of dead money in the pot. You will often find yourself dominating a hand like A5 or KT.

Watch the payout structure closely. As each new level of prizes approaches, be alert for these players who are “just happy to be there.” After entering each new level, be aware of the short players again!

Prepare your bankroll and make wise rebuy decisions so you can enjoy the excitement and hidden value of R&A tournaments.

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