The Rebuy Tournament Game Plan by Michael Gracz
Going into any rebuy tournament, you should know before the first cards are dealt how much money you’re willing to invest. Whether you’re playing with a single bullet (not planning to rebuy at all), enough money to rebuy 50 times, or somewhere in between, you should have a number in your mind. You need to know from the start how many risks you can afford to take, and play accordingly.
For me personally, I don’t believe in playing with a single bullet or with unlimited ammo. If you’re only planning on making one buy-in, then why not play a regular No-Limit Hold ’em tournament? Playing a rebuy tournament with only one bullet, you have no safety net and you’re giving the other players a significant edge over you because they’re able to exploit your reluctance to gamble.
If you’re pushing your stack in over and over, looking to accumulate chips and willing to go broke repeatedly, there’s a certain amount of upside to that, but I don’t believe it’s the best expected value play. Yes, that maniacal approach can sometimes get you into the post-rebuy period with a large chip stack, which of course provides an edge for the rest of the tournament. The problem is that if you’ve spent something like $25,000 in a $1,000 buy-in tournament, you have to finish that much higher in the money to come out ahead. A lot of times when you’re rebuying that many times, just making the money doesn’t cover how much you’ve invested into the tournament.
My personal rule of thumb is that I like to be willing to invest in the tournament in accordance to the payout amounts. I don’t ever want to get to the point where I’m investing significantly more money than the lowest money place pays. So in a $1,000 rebuy tournament, I’m willing to put about $8,000 into it. Some days, it’s just not your day, the cards aren’t falling your way and you have to leave and come back and play another day. It’s foolish to sit there and keep putting your stack in the middle when you have no edge and often times you’re up against a better hand.
When you’re playing this middle-of-the-road strategy, it’s important to identify the maniacal players from the outset because they’re going to be very dangerous, but they’re also going to provide you with your best opportunities to chip up. These players are actually the prime reason to play in a rebuy tournament, because you can feast on them. They’re going to open with all types of hands from all different positions, so you can call with marginal hands in position such as 10-9 suited, 8-7 suited, 3-4 suited, even one-gappers such as 6-8 suited. I also want to put a lot of pressure on this type of player before the flop if I have a big hand like Aces, Kings, or Queens, simply because this is the type of player who’s really willing to gamble and might just go ahead and ship the rest of his stack in right there.
In the last 10 to 15 minutes of the rebuy period, if you’ve been able to acquire a stack, this is a critical time in the tournament to play smart. If the hyper-aggressive players don’t have a lot of chips, they’re going to be pushing it all in almost every hand to give themselves a shot at a big stack heading into the post-rebuy period. If you have an edge in a given hand against these guys, use it, but you don’t want to gamble too much. Remember that you’ve acquired a stack now and it’s your goal to maintain that stack in and after the rebuy period.