In poker, a rebuy is a tournament feature that allows a player to buy their way back in to the tourney after they have either been eliminated or have fallen a predetermined chip amount. In a rebuy tournament players can buy more chips during the early blind levels.
In a freezeout tournament, one without rebuys, when a player loses all of their chips, they are simply eliminated whereas in a rebuy event, if they lose all of their chips, they can buy themselves back into the game.
Note, although the terms rebuy and re-entry are closely related and often used interchangeably to highlight how a player can continue to take part in a game of poker, they are technically not the same thing. In both cases the player pays a sum, receives another stack of chips and carries on playing having previously lost all of their chips.
However, these terms actually refer to two alternative ways in which a player can buy their way back into a poker game. These differences might not matter very much for small single table tournaments, but they can become important when we are dealing with larger multi table tournaments.
The Difference Between Rebuys And Re-entries
A rebuy is where a player who has just lost all their chips is immediately given the option of buying another stack of chips so that they can continue playing at the same table without the need to leave their seat. This means that the order of play, the dealer button and the posting of the small and big blinds are not affected.
Also, with a rebuy it is possible that the price required could be lower than the initial entry fee. This is because the initial entry fee is where the player receives less chips for a rebuy. Also, the cost of a rebuy might omit the rake with all of the rebuy money paid directly into the prize pool.
In some cases, auto-rebuy is an option that is available in online cash games. With this, any time a player’s stack size drops below a certain number of big blinds, the software will automatically rebuy chips to return the player back to their desired stack depth.
Rebuying is an option that’s useful when players are reluctant to pay the full cost of another entry and encourages players to stay in the game. This gives a player a cheaper way to carry on playing, while also increasing the prize pool at the same time.
With a re-entry, a player, again who has lost all of their chips, leaves the table that they were playing at and pays to enter the tournament all over again but this time as if they were joining the tournament as a new player. The player receives a brand new full starting stack of chips and are allocated another seat at random.
Because in this case the player that was knocked out leaves their seat, the order of play and likely the number of blinds posted at the table they left behind, could be affected if the position of the now vacant seat receives the dealer button or would they have been required to post a blind on the next hand.
Point Of View
This means that, from the point of view of the player, the difference is simply whether or not they can continue playing in the same seat, which would be a rebuy, or have to move to another table as is the case with a re-entry.
From the point of view of the tournament host, there are a number of differences to consider that concern money, chips and keeping track of player entries and rebuys. The initial buy-in amount for a tournament could be made up of an amount that goes into the prize pool plus an additional house fee that covers the expense of running the tournament.
The Rebuy Period
The initial stage of a rebuy tournament is referred to as the rebuy period. During this time, players are permitted to request rebuys until the rebuy period is finished.
As soon as the rebuy period is over, no further rebuys are allowed and the tournament reverts to a freezeout format, meaning that from now on when a player loses all of their chips, they are out. Often, the rebuy period can be up to 30 minutes after the game’s start time.
The rebuy period should be stated in the tournament lobby. At the end of that time, the tournament will pause for a short time to give all of the tables the chance to synchronize before the start of the next blind level. During this break, players are able to buy one final top up of chips, regardless of how many chips they currently have in their stack.
How To Play Rebuys In Poker
Any time we rebuy in a poker tournament after busting, it is arguable that by rebuying our way back in, we can increase are hourly rate in a number of different ways because it allows online players to take part in a larger amount of tournament tables at one time.
Since the variance is higher, rebuy tournaments include more rigorous bankroll requirements. As an example, a rebuy tournament with 200 players carries a higher degree of variance than a freezeout tournament with the same amount of entries. Assuming that 50% of the players in the tournament rebuy, then the 200 entry rebuy tourney functions more like a 300 entry regular tournament in terms of variance.
Unlike tournaments, rebuying in cash games is considered to be standard practice as it allows for players to play as close to their desired stack depth as possible. If all players were allowed to continue rebuying over and over again, there wouldn’t be a lot of a difference between tournaments and cash games.
However, many tournaments don’t put a cap on the number of rebuys that are permitted so long as the rebuy request comes within the rebuy period. Sometimes a tournament might place a limit on how many times a player can rebuy, but by allowing unlimited rebuys the tournament’s overall prize pool is boosted.
So, how should you play differently in a rebuy tourney than a regular one? Firstly, your current stack is less than your starting stack which means that you can rebuy prior to the first hand. If you lose an all in hand, you may rebuy twice at the same time. After the first rebuy you have a starting stack and may immediately rebuy again.
Having the flexibility to manage your stack size when it gets low means that you have a number of different ways to take on the game, because the prize pool is no longer one entry per player. Most players will choose to rebuy, or auto rebuy, multiple times, meaning that your potential return for a single buy-in is far higher than with a regular tournament.
If you are a tight player, you could opt to minimise your outlay and play your regular game and hope to pick up chips that others have paid for. However, the downside of this strategy is that you will find that there are fewer pots where it is likely to see a flop without putting a significant part of your own stack at risk.
After a short time without a win, your stack will be one of the smallest at the table, especially in the early rounds. The upside, though, is that with a little patience and a run of decent hands, you can get some nice returns for a fraction of the cost that others have invested.
Most medium tight players will seize the opportunity to speculate with medium strength hands during the rebuy period. At the same time, they can also avoid gambling on hands which are lower in value. This is where awareness of starting hand potential is needed. Suited connectors, hole card pairs and high cards might do well in multi way all in situations before the flop.
Another strategy you are likely to come across is the aggressive rebuy strategy. Here, players are ready to go all in on each hand, regardless of hole cards and simply rebuy, sometimes double rebuy, whenever they bust. The beauty of this is that when this works, you can swiftly build a big chip stack. Then, once the rebuy period is over, you can use your bigger stack to dominate the game or you could sit back and wait for the later stages, watching the smaller stacks get eliminated by the rising blinds.
The downside to this though is variance. Spending multiple buy-ins on a single event means that you have to win more often than if you spend the regular amount. An experienced player will need to use their deep stack to good effect then collect the necessary number of cashes in order to make it financially profitable.
A Few Things To Remember About Rebuy Tournaments
Players should always avoid entering a rebuy tournament if their bankroll doesn’t allow enough for them to rebuy should they want to. Also, be sure to check beforehand to see how many rebuys are available. If there is a capped amount, take note of it and bear that in mind when other players are using theirs.
Be sure that you are fully prepared to operate the ideal strategy based on your opponents at the table during the rebuy period. Although it might seem like a good idea to buy more and more chips at every available opportunity, every time that you do add chips to your stack they are less valuable than the chips that are already in play. Alternatively, if your table is reckless and you are playing tight, you should keep your stack topped up with a rebuy when needed so that whenever you do enter a pot, you can maximize your return.
Finally, always make sure you have the option to add on which is considered a must buy by most of the poker experts. Purchasing more chips than usual for the same price is usually too good an opportunity to miss, even with a big stack.