Rebuy & Add-On Tournament Strategy

Niko | May 27, 2009

Many online poker rooms run a lot of rebuy and add-on tournaments because they attract players with small bankrolls as well as players with large bankrolls. Players with small bankrolls can just buy-in once for the buy-in price and play the tourney like a freeze out, while the bigger bankroll players can rebuy many times and try to build their stack to put themselves in a position to win the tournament. Rebuy tournaments usually allot the first hour as a rebuy tournament and then after this hour there is an optional add-on available. After this hour rebuys are no longer allowed and the real poker tournament begins. If you make it to the add-on period you should always purchase the add-on because it is usually the same price as the original buy-in was, but you receive double the amount of chips. If you are looking to win the rebuy tournament you should play loose and aggressive in the first hour to try to build your stack. If you bust out you can just rebuy and get right back at it.

In the first hour of the tournament you should play extremely aggressive. Everyone will be playing looser so when you do get a big hand you can bet big and you will still usually be called. For example, if you are dealt pocket aces or kings in the rebuy stage of the tournament you can make a raise of four times the big blind. Then if you are reraised you can move all-in. Often time’s players are happy to get their chips in for a coin flip or even slightly behind at this stage because they are trying to build their stack. You should use this fact to your advantage and double up when you have a strong hand.

Coin flips in the early stages

Players like coin flips in the early stages of a rebuy tournament because they are actually positive expected value. Your goal is to build your chips at this stage so as long as you aren’t behind when you go all in it’s the right play. You are hoping to win a few coin flips in a row and build a stack for the freeze out portion of the tourney. That being said it is possible to go too far with this strategy and get your chips in with by far the worst hand. For example, if you have pocket 2’s the best thing you can hope for is a coin flip, but if you are up against a higher pocket pair you are crushed. You still have to be smart about when you get your money into the pot. Low pairs aren’t really what you are looking for. Mid to high pairs or big cards like (A,K) are what you want to move in with pre-flop. If you start moving in with almost anything you will quickly find yourself down a lot of rebuys.

The add-on stage

If you are able to make it to the add-on stage you should always purchase the add-on. It will be the cost of the buy-in, but you will receive double the chips, which is obviously great value. Every player who wants to give themselves the best possible chance at winning the tournament will purchase the add-on. Remember, the more chips you have the more chips you can win in a double up situation. So don’t look at the add-on as just 3,000 chips or however much it is. Look at the chips as a way to help you continue to build your stack.

Once the rebuy stage of the tournament has finished you should apply your regular tournament strategy. You should tighten up and try to get your chips in with the best hand, not just when you think you may be in a coin flip situation. Some of your opponents won’t be able to change gears and you can take advantage of these loose players later in the tournament once you spot who they are.

Rebuy tournaments are very popular at online poker rooms and they can be very profitable if you use the structure to your advantage and get in on the crazy action of the first hour. The optimal strategy is loose aggressive during the early stages to build your stack, followed by a tight aggressive style in the freeze out portion of the tourney. Remember to change gears after you purchase the add-on and you will be on your way to success.