Storming Rebuy Tournaments

© 2006 Randy Saylor

Writing recent articles about rebuy tournaments and the bankroll and attitude to take to those MTTs has reminded me of a certain low risk way to win in these tournaments that some players use. I call this method storming, and I have used it myself experimentally with mixed results.

Low Money Risk

Storming is very low-risk, considering the potential prize pool. A $10+1 rebuy tournament with 1600 entrants will typically have a total prize pool of $64,000. This is using the simple estimate of four times the buy-in times the number of players. You will find that this estimate is good for mid-range buy-in amounts.

A $10+1 freezeout tournament with 1600 entrants will only have a prize pool of $16,000.

- In the rebuy tournament, I’ll risk 0.017% of the prize pool.
- In the freezeout tournament, I’ll risk 0.069% of the prize pool.

High Money Reward

Although a rebuy tournament will take slightly longer to complete, the potential wins would more than offset the extra time. If I’m risking $11, I’d rather have a chance to win $13,000 than $3,000, and I’d be willing to invest a couple extra hours if necessary.

- First place in such a rebuy tournament might be over $13,440.
- First place in this freezeout might typically be about $3400.

Very Long Odds

So using a single entry into a rebuy MTT is low risk and high reward. That would be a great situation if it were very possible to actually win! Unfortunately, the chances are quite low. I’ve heard players suggest “I’ll just play tight and take the chips off the maniacs when I have a hand.” There are a lot of problems with this:

- If you play that tight, you won’t get any action when you do play
- If you slowplay to try to get action on your big hands, you let more players into the pot who can potentially beat your premium hand
- You will be blinded into submission fairly soon, as the average stack increases very rapidly.

If you don’t get very lucky early, you are going to be desperate and short stacked late in the first hour. You will be forced into desperate all-in moves and eventually you will be knocked out without a lot of help from the cards.
How do we overcome the long odds of winning? There is one answer, and that is to storm the tournament. I call it this because I am going to play like an absolute maniac for a few hands. I am going to get lucky quickly, or I’m out. You need to build a lot of chips quickly, and if you’re not paying for them as rebuys, you must gamble for them and win them.

The High Chip Risk Beginning

Note that this gambling strategy will work perhaps one in six tries, but when it does, it tends to work spectacularly well. It is true that you are gambling with your tournament chips, but as long as you have a solid strategy and discipline to stick to your system, you can do it without concern of this gambling strategy affecting your other poker games.

The first thing to do is to establish an early image as “just another rebuy player,” and I’ve got a strategy for it:

- First hand, bad cards (without any pair or AT+ or suited connectors down to 65): If you are the first to act in later position (or it’s folded to you preflop), push all-in with any two cards. I mean ANY two cards. Remember, you are trying to establish a reputation here. If nobody calls you, show your bad cards. If you get called by a better hand, cross your fingers.
- First hand, bad cards: if anybody enters the pot before you with a limp or a minimum raise, call with any two cards. You will be letting it go later, but this establishes you as loose/weak. That’s a good image for now.
- First hand, bad cards: if anybody else raises big before you, fold. Nobody can play every hand (although some try).

- First hand, good cards (any 65+ suited connector, any suited Ace, any AT+, any KJ+, any pair): you are playing any of these hands all the way, with some exceptions.
o With several all-ins before you, your AT or AJ is probably dominated by an AK or AQ. You should fold here.
o KJ or KT is playable all-in against one opponent, because often they will have Ace-any. If that is the case, you are likely only a 3-2 underdog.
o With more than two all-ins before you, fold pocket pairs below ten. With any JJ+, AQ+ suited, or AK, get all-in.

- First hand, good cards, one all-in before you: call and hope it’s heads-up. If five others call too, you just need some luck.
- First hand, good cards and you’re first to act. Raise it up to five times the big blind. If several others go all-in after that, play only if you have one of the best hands.
- If only one other player comes in with a call, go all-in if you flop top pair, a flush draw, or a straight draw or better. Otherwise make a half-pot bet to try to take it down and fold to resistance.
- If only one other player comes in with a raise, and you’re heads-up, raise all-in or call their all-in.

After the first hand, the rules are much the same, but if you haven’t played one of the first few hands (and haven’t done the initial rebuy), you’ll be pegged as a “stormer” and won’t get much action for a while.

Many times you’ll bust out, but you’ll certainly have had some fun. The times you do catch some breaks, you will have a big stack for one entry that others have bought several entries to get.

If you are able to triple or better in the first few hands, you are doing well, but you cannot get complacent. You usually need to have about 7000 chips at the break to be average after the add-ons (since you won’t be adding one). I would urge you to carefully consider taking the add-on if you are near the leaders to protect your tournament equity. After ten minutes or so, the maniacs slow down somewhat, so you can start playing better poker. The last few minutes before the first break sometimes get crazy, too, so beware.

Give storming a try sometime! If you promise yourself you will not rebuy no matter what happens, then go ahead and try this “bull in a china shop” technique.

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