Shirley Rosario
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How to Play Online Multiple Rebuys Tournaments

by Shirley Rosario

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Poker Rebuy TournamentsRebuy tournaments are a totally different game than standard tournaments. Players must be able to adapt to the differences in order to do well in both. The key difference between the two is the selection of starting hands in the early stages of a tournament. Two other differences are the amount of chips in play (usually larger in rebuys) and the willingness to gamble more in rebuy tournaments versus standard tournaments.

Selection of starting hands is an important factor in any tournament you play in. You must be able to determine when the appropriate time to play a certain hands is. In rebuy tournaments, I loosen my standards for starting hands tremendously during the first couple levels. Most of my rebuy tournament experience is from online poker, so that is what I am talking about in most of this article (although the strategy can normally apply to live rebuy tournaments as well).

I always allow myself at least four buy-ins. I do my first rebuy the moment I sit down at the table. If some of the other players are going to start with $3000 in chips, you better believe I am going to start myself with as much as they are. We all know that there is a huge advantage in having a lot of chips in tournaments and I make sure I start out with the maximum amount. I normally allow myself at least one "loose" call during the first couple rounds. If two players move all of their chips into the pot, I will consider calling with a sub par hand. I have made calls with weaker Aces (AQ, AJ, or AT), pocket pairs, and I have even been known to call with hands as weak as QJ. My reason for making such calls is I have already given myself permission to make a couple more buy-ins and if I happen to lose with my hand (often times the underdog), then I do a rebuy. If I happen to win the hand, I usually have enough chips to be one of the chip leaders by the end of the break (if playing the $10 rebuy tournaments, you usually have to do this a few times). Note: Don't forget to do the add-on at the break.

Another reason why there is a lot of value in calling with marginal hands in the early stages of a rebuy tournament is because players think you are out of your mind. If you want to get paid off down the road when you are holding a monster hand, let the players at the table think you are the biggest fish they have ever seen. Granted, the tables are condensed as the tournament progresses, but they will remember you. I am sure there are plenty of players that have player's notes on me that read, "Live one". If they are ever on a table with me during the later stages of a tournament (when I am not willing to make loose calls), they will be in for a surprise. I remember one player making a weak call with second pair, jack kicker (the board was KQx) and I typed in the chat box, "Pretty bold call" and she responded: "No, not really, I remember yesterday that you moved all of your chips in with pocket fives." As a matter of fact, I did, but she didn't take into consideration that I moved all of my chips in during the first few rounds of a rebuy tournament. This is not something I would do in under normal circumstances and it earned me a lot of money on this particular hand.

In online tournaments (buy-ins of $100 or below), it is common to start out with $1500 in chips. If there are 100 people in a regular tournament, the total amount of chips in play is $150,000. In rebuy tournaments, the total amount of chips in play is typically triple the amount. Imagine $450,000 in play and only 100 players. With that many chips in play, you need to make serious adjustments to your game during all stages of the tournament (not just the early stages). During the early stages, you must do what you can to get as many chips as possible. Immediately after the early stages, I suggest you tighten up because if you have followed my advice and played at least one "loose" hand during the rebuy tournament, you are more likely to get called (at least for awhile). If you are more likely to get called, you want to make sure that you go in with the favorite and extract as many chips as possible. After my standard waiting period, I start to loosen up again. Remember there are $450,000 chips in play and hopefully you have your fair share of them. If you have an average stack size with 80 players left, you should have approximately 40 blinds in front of you. You have enough chips to raise in position and dump your hand if someone goes over the top of you. This makes it easier to raise with marginal hands or hands you might not normally raise with. During all stages of the tournament, you must keep track of how many big blinds you have. Like I said, in rebuy tournaments you will most likely have a lot more bets than in a regular tournament. So adjust your play accordingly.

In most tournaments, you will be in a situation where you might ask yourself if it is the correct move to play for all of your chips when drawing to a straight or a flush. In rebuy tournaments, the answer will more likely be a "yes". I have already stated that there are more chips in play in rebuy tournaments than in standard tournaments. It is important to have a larger stack, so getting your chips in on a draw will often be correct.

Make sure you recognize the major difference between rebuy tournaments and standard tournaments. In rebuys, play a little looser in the early stages of the tournament. Pay attention to the amount of bets you have and push those pots whenever possible. And don't be afraid to go broke on drawing hands. And remember that many players use a similar strategy (although they very often don't seem to change up later). Make sure you get in there and build a decent stack and hopefully if all goes well, you will win the damn thing!